Nick’s Place was founded in 1999 in memory of Nicholas Cristarella (1974-1997). Nick was a smart,Photo of Nick handsome young man with his whole life ahead of him. He had a wonderful sense of humor and a strong love for his family. Nick’s life ended as a result of the disease of addiction and alcoholism. He struggled with his addiction from his early teen years until his death at age 22. Nick’s Place is in his honor… to help other young men in their journey through recovery from this disease.




After Nick’s last treatment, he decided to go to a halfway house. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, it was something he felt he had to do if he was ever going to “get” recovery.  One complaint he had was that there was no one there his age. After his death, I literally prayed for meaning of his life and my own, and the vision of Nick’s Place was created: bringing young men together who all have the same goal.


We opened our doors in October of 2000 and have since served over 200 young men and their families. My husband, Barry, and I continue to be enthusiastic about Nick’s Place and the progress we have made. We still have dinners with our residents and have forged long-term relationships with many alumni and their families.


Rhea PicWhen we meet with parents of our residents, we feel good knowing that we can tell them that we are doing for their kids what we would have wanted done for Nick. I always tell residents and parents about Nick, his struggles, and ours, so that they understand that we have lived their lives and shared their fears. It is important for them to know that, even though their child is struggling now, there is hope for a happier, healthier life.


We encourage them not to give up hope. Being able to provide a clean, safe, drug- and alcohol-free home to these young men is a blessing. It is certainly not without its challenges, but the rewards are worth it. I am forever grateful that Nick’s life and death have provided so much opportunity to the lives of other young men.