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Topics - StillStanding

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New Info / Renaissance or Renaissance Project - Ellenville, NY
« on: January 28, 2011, 03:54:16 PM »
I keep hearing about Synanon off-shoots, and here in NY, there seem to be 2 main ones associated with it – Phoenix House and Daytop (both of which still operate, albeit with much tamer regiments).

But I’ve never heard of anyone talk about Renaissance (or the Renaissance Project) in Ellenville, NY (not far from Daytop’s Swan Lake facility, tho I don’t know if that's still there).

I was there as a teenager for 2 yrs from 1981-1983.  It was primarily an adult facility – approx 65 adults and about 15 teenagers.  This place, while small, was a direct descendant of Synanon’s.

When I got there, they still shaved heads (men only; they stopped shaving women’s and made them wear stocking caps instead; I was told they changed this after a woman killed herself).  They still gave people costumes: bum outfits, baby outfits (complete with diapers, pacifiers, bibs, etc).  I wore signs, stocking caps, and scrubbed toilets with toothbrushes.  Dishpan, spare parts….we shoveled snow out of the pool in the winter, and “moved” the lake with a tablespoon in the summer.  GI’ed rooms for hours. Attitude runs on the lawn, bent over picking up invisible “attitudes” for hours. Chopping ice on the pathways until 3am.  General meetings called at 4am, dragging us out of bed to scream at us and shave heads, etc.

I was 16 when I was sent there; 18 when I left.  I’m 45 yrs old now and my life has never been the same.

I recently started researching Renaissance and found out they’re still open.  I doubt they have teenagers there anymore, but I read that an addict from there killed a security guard and stabbed a nurse in Oct 2010.  When I googled it, I saw it was still the same buildings on the same property.

Because Renaissance is small, and I don’t think there are any chapters outside of NY, I’ve never heard anything about it.  A recent facebook search turned up 2 people I know from there (both of whom were adults), but I’m afraid to contact either of them.

I still think of the other teenagers I was there with, and often wonder what happened to them.

When I left there at 18, I began using heroin.  And spent the next 20 yrs in and out of rehabs, periods of sobriety and college, but eventually relapsing again.  I’m now clean for 7 yrs.  I live and work in NYC and have a seemingly normal life, though the nightmares have never stopped and I live the damage from that place each and every day in ways that just seem normal to me now, after so many years.

If anyone’s ever heard of Renaissance – especially from the early 1980s – I’d appreciate any info you have.  I remember the staff members names, and even have pictures still of most of them.  Rudimentary online searches yield very little info (I already know Felix Varela died some yrs ago)  Gerry Gerace, the ex-director, is still around.  That’s all I’ve been able to find, but I’d like to find out who actually owns the place  - now and back in the 80s.

Any help or info is appreciated.


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