Conifer Park celebrating 25 years

Twenty-three years ago, Lucinda Taylor-Chrys took a 75-foot plunge off Cohoes Falls.

Twenty-three years ago, Lucinda Taylor-Chrys took a 75-foot plunge off Cohoes Falls.

She doesn’t remember how she got there — she was blind drunk on rum and cokes — but she knows it became the defining moment of her life.

From that day on, Taylor-Chrys decided to stay sober, and she thanks Conifer Park for helping her keep that pledge.

Taylor-Chrys was a guest speaker Wednesday at Conifer Park’s 25th anniversary. The facility opened May 2, 1985. She spent 28 days there as an inpatient in November 1985.

The Glenridge Road facility is the Capital Region’s only inpatient treatment facility for people with alcohol and chemical dependencies. The 225-bed center is part of a network of six outpatient rehabilitation clinics managed by the privately held Liberty Behavioral Management Corp.

Conifer Park employs 400 full- and part-time staff and has a $21 million payroll. It has treated more than 60,000 people in the last quarter-century, said Executive Director Jeanne Gluchowski.

Taylor-Chrys, 52, was piloting a new boat with two young stepchildren when she made the plunge June 23, 1985. “It was a sunny afternoon and I took the kids out for a spin,” she said.

Warning signs are conspicuously posted near the falls. But Taylor-Chrys said she never saw them. “We were airborne before we realized there was no water under us,” she said. The children, ages 10 and 14 at the time, survived the plunge as well.

After a brief stint in the hospital, Taylor-Chrys went into treatment for her disease, first spending seven days in detoxification and then nearly a month at Conifer Park. She was a self-referral. “There were no laws, no mandatory treatments back then,” she said.

Taylor-Chrys then went to college. She became a family therapist and went back to Conifer Park two years later, this time as an employee. She now works for the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

Taylor-Chrys remains in touch with Conifer Park staff, remembering the bonds she developed during her treatment. With tears in her eyes, she recalled how the staff helped her regain her self-esteem and helped her believe in herself. “It’s absolutely important to be completely immersed in this program,” she said. “Immersed in compassion and empathy.”

Taylor-Chrys said the staff at Conifer Park understands how important it is to give someone a smile. “Most of the people who work here have been affected in one way or another by alcohol or chemical dependency,” she said.

Gluchowski said Conifer Park offers people a chance to get their lives back together. “One of our unique features is we transfer people to a rehabilitation facility where they get a better continuum of care than if they went to a detox unit,” she said.

Every patient discharged from Conifer Park receives a plan of care that helps them continue their efforts toward recovery, Gluchowski said. Conifer Park has no way of ensuring people continue their treatments after discharge, however.

Taylor-Chrys said a person has to have a “fire in the belly to want a different life than what you had.” Conifer Park, she said, provides that fire.

Categories: Schenectady County

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