Center's expansion meets a critical need

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Jan. 11, 2018 at 4:42 p.m.

Every Wednesday evening, a group of people gather in a rented room inside a professional building to listen and provide critical support to one another.

They meet without fanfare or judgment because the people who attend need to keep their lives on the right path.

This is a meeting of recovering substance addicts, and they seek human compassion and understanding as part of their lifelong remedy.

The Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach Center continues to provide critical services in the Crossroads, and with each of their successes, a life is saved.

Executive Director Daniel Barrientos said the meetings demonstrate a shift in how the faith-based alcohol and substance abuse outpatient treatment center operates.

The facility sees more people seeking help on their own rather than through the criminal justice system.

In 2014, when Barrientos was hired, about 96 percent of clients were referred because they were on probation or parole. In 2017, about 33 percent of the center's clients sought treatment on their own.

This is an amazing shift in statistics. It means that more people, those who seek help, are motivated to search for help.

Barrientos said the peer-driven group was started eight months ago by a client who didn't want to leave the center after completing his treatment.

Going to Alcoholics Anonymous is intimidating for some, he said, and the alumni support group - the Wednesday meetings - offers an alternative.

Others in the group say their motivation is restoring relationships with family and avoiding incarceration.

Clinical Director Elma Saenz said clients become comfortable with the staff and don't want to lose that support network.

Now, the Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach Center is helping so many clients, it needs more space.

The center has operated for almost three years in rented space on the first floor of the Laurent Tower building; the agency is ready for its own building.

The nonprofit organization is in the process of purchasing a freestanding building from Victoria College.

"It has so much potential," Saenz said. "This will give us more visibility, and clients will be able to access us better."

The expansion represents a good investment in the health of our region.

The 5,960-square-foot building is in a residential area of Victoria and has plenty of parking for clients. Before it was the college's adult education center, the building belonged to Central Power and Light Electric.

Barrientos said a $100,000 grant from the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation helped start the process.

"We got this building for a good price, so we're very hopeful we'll be able to pay it off by the time we move in," he said.

The center started a campaign to raise $500,000 for the purchase, moving expenses and renovations as well as the hiring of two additional counselors. The anticipated move-in date is May 1.

The Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach Center will be able to save $36,000 annually by not paying rent. The nonprofit treats more than 530 adults annually in the Crossroads.

Barrientos said investing in the center will ease the financial burden on legal and correctional systems. Again, that makes the project a worthy investment.

The new building will also provide a meeting space for AA and Narcotics Anonymous.

The diagnoses the center often sees are alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine and opioid addictions.

Nationally, 91 people die every day of opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As opioid use sweeps the nation, Victoria is not immune to this issue with 11 percent of the center's clients primarily abusing this type of drug. And when access is limited, he said, they often turn to harder drugs.

Barrientos said his goal is to bring an inpatient treatment facility to the Crossroads where a patient can detox under medical supervision.

Available detox beds require traveling to Corpus Christi or San Antonio, and those beds are often filled.

But for now, he is focused on expanding and improving outpatient treatment services.

"I know God has big plans for this agency and will see this through," he said.

Our community now needs to get behind the Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach Center as well.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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