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Schaffer honored at Gino Macchio gala; announces new Amityville addiction center

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Construction on Beacon Family Wellness Center II will begin next year at the site of the former Sayonara Motel

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A longtime friend of the Macchio family, Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer is well-versed in Gino Macchio’s “I Got You” mantra.

“I’ve received many awards over the years from various organizations,” Schaffer said Wednesday evening in Bay Shore, with the Gino Macchio Foundation’s inaugural “I Got You” award tucked in his arms.

“But this one I will cherish as it’s special and very personal to me.”

The foundation honored Schaffer for his work as town supervisor to help elevate the foundation’s “Put Recovery to Work” program from Gino Macchio’s dream to reality.

The Put Recovery to Work Gala at The Bayview House in Bay Shore was named after the program.

Working together

The town’s Beacon Family Wellness Center in North Babylon provides chemical dependency treatment services.

In a collaborative effort, the foundation has put many of the center’s recovering patients to work on oyster farms in the Great South Bay.

“You’re support has enabled us to continue Gino’s journey,” Steven Macchio, Gino’s father and the secretary of the foundation, said, reading from Schaffer “I Got You” award. “Your work with us has helped the world to become a better place. Good actions give strength to ourselves, and inspire good action in others.”

New treatment facility

After accepting the “I Got You” honor, Schaffer announced a town project partly in Gino’s honor.

After thanking the counselors from the Beacon Family Wellness Center in attendance, he said he and the rest of the Town Board has committed federal funds the town is getting to build the Beacon Family Wellness II in Amityville.

Construction will begin next year on the two-story building at the site of the former Sayonara Motel, which Schaffer described as a “seedy” spot known for illicit activities.

The project is expected to be completed by the middle of 2023.

The first floor will be additional counseling that will be available to our residents who need it,” Schaffer said. “And on the second floor, we’re going to have the Gino Macchio Job Placement Program.”

The Gino Macchio Job Placement Program, Schaffer said, will act as a “clearing house” to help recovering individuals overcome legal troubles and stigmas muddling their ability to find employment.

The supervisor added that the town will seek to lobby the state to increase tax incentives for employers to hire those in recovery and and will commit money to funding additional stipends that will allow people on Oasis-approved recovery plans.

Gino: patient zero, a hero

Before his family started the foundation in his name, Gino Macchio was patient zero for its “Put Recovery to Work” program.

He was in recovery as the result of a prescription opioid dependency, which became an addiction. After undergoing dependency treatment services, he worked on Town of Islip Councilman John Cochrane, Jr.’s oyster farm in the Great South Bay.

Cochrane, who spoke at the gala, recalled a particularly difficult day of work on Jan. 10, 2018, following a polar vortex.

“We had to break three inches of ice to get out to the farm,” he said of wading through the Great South Bay. “I thought he turned white because we were jumping in the water. That’s how I knew he was dedicated.”

Sabrina Macchio, the eldest of Gino’s three younger sisters and the president of the foundation, was the first speaker of the evening.

“Growing up Gino was my second father,” she said. “He was my best friend, my partner in crime, but most importantly the best big brother a sister could ask for.”

She recalled having to complete a “hero project” for school, for which many students selected their parents or grandparents as subjects.

She chose her big brother Gino.

“He was — and still is — my hero today,” she said. “He was selfless, kind, loving and understood people in a way many others could not. He sought out people for what they were and did not define them by their obstacles or challenges.”

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