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Former Drug Addict Runs Center For Substance Abuse Education

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The New Yorker of the Week is a former substance abuser who turned her life around and created a center to educate others about alcohol and drug abuse. NY1's Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.

“Donna's heart is as big as the city,” said student Matthew Jospher. “She's sincere and she's genuine about helping people and she's really committed - she just wants to help people.”

Donna Mae DePola is president and founder of The Resource Training Center, a not-for-profit organization that provides training for people wanting careers counseling alcohol and substance abusers and their families.

DePola founded the center 12 years ago in response to her own experience with drug abuse.

“My mother was upstairs; she had a massive heart attack,” recalled DePola. “My brother had just gone up to see her. And I was sitting there crying how sick my mother was, and as I was sitting there crying how sick my mother was. I had a big pile of cocaine and realized something is wrong with this picture. If I'm so worried about my mother, why am I using drugs?”

Now with two sites in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, DePola's organization provides students the information they need to become credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselors.

DePola says what she finds most rewarding about her center is her students.

“I've seen people come in here that have gotten their children back, got their health back, got everything they've lost within themselves back, and that to me is how I feel about my students,” said Depola. “I honestly truly adore them and love them - and I think we have a great relationship.”

Student Walter Hayes, 71, was overwhelmed with DePola's generosity.

“Donna, you gave me time when no one gave me the time of day, you looked deep inside when the rest of the world looked away. You smile at me when there were just frowns everywhere - you gave me love when no one else seemed to care,” said Hayes.

Resource Training Center Teacher Delores Anderson said DePola is an inspiration to her students.

“[She] instills hope in her students that they can do this,” said Anderson. “They can succeed, and they can go on not only to be program directors but owners of businesses and doing other things and great things.”

And so for opening a center where more than 1,600 people have learned how to help victims of alcohol and drug abuse, Donna Mae Depola is the New Yorker of the Week.

For more information on the Resource Training Center — go to www.resourcegroupforeduc.com.

- Produced by Frank DiLella

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