OdysseyNH Celebrates Academy's First Year

By Annie Hamilton

Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 3, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
OdysseyNH held a celebratory breakfast at the OdysseyNH Academy on Friday, May 30. The ceremony included a ribbon-cutting event celebrating one year of the OdysseyNH Academy’s hard work and dedication.
[Annie Hamilton photo]

HAMPTON -- OdysseyNH held a celebration breakfast at the OdysseyNH Academy on Friday, May 30, 2008.

OdysseyNH has five programs for people who need to overcome substance abuse, trauma and behavioral difficulties. They include the PACE program in Rochester, Odyssey Family Center in Canterbury, as well as the Blue Heron Inn, Adolescent Therapeutic Center and the Recovery School at OdysseyNH Academy, all in Hampton.

The breakfast celebration at the academy at 150 High Street featured tours, presentations by current student Joseph "Jay V" Morin and program graduate Stephanie Davis, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating one year of the OdysseyNH Academy's hard work and dedication.

Erik Johannessen, OdysseyNH's chief executive officer, was very proud of the success of the academy so far. He describes the academy as "a school that really values recovery and provides treatment as well as the educational experience."

The academy includes day students, PACE participants from the Rochester program, Adolescent Therapeutic Center participants and residents of the Blue Heron Inn.

Johannessen and OdysseyNH board President David Choate are hoping to find new ways of getting students into the program, as there is capacity in the day programs. Choate said that space could be filled with private-pay students.

Many of the students there now were sent by order of an outside school district, Johannessen said. More adolescents could take advantage of and benefit from the program, but the parents or guardians of those adolescents have to make the decision to send them.

Davis, a graduate of the OdysseyNH Family Center, is grateful for the program that helped her get her life on track.

"Anybody that's trying to get sober needs to have an experience of being happy sober," said Davis, talking about the importance of OdysseyNH. "Everyone needs to realize that life is good sober."

Davis also praised the academy's students for taking action at a young age to face and overcome their difficulties, rather than letting it spiral out of control for too many years.

"All these kids know now, so they can tackle it now," Davis said.

Davis spoke on the importance of not forgetting what she learned there so she can keep her children from pursuing a life of dangerous decisions.

Choate said part of the purpose of OdysseyNH is to treat individuals in an attempt to end the cycle of unhealthy behavior.

"A lot of what we try to do is try to break that cycle from generation to generation so that at some point the cycle stops," he said.

Johannessen knows the importance of the OdysseyNH program and is proud of the individuals who have succeeded there.

"The power of giving and forgiving builds strong connections with families and communities and can change the world," he said. "These are the tools that our staff works with, with our residents and with our day students, every single day to help create these healthy new lives that will last long into the future."