Nick’s Place was founded in 1999 in memory of Nicholas Cristarella (1974-1997). Nick was a smart, 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.
A Message From: Rhea McVicker, Nick's Mom, Founder, and Executive Board President
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.
When 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.
Nick's Mom, Founder, and Executive Board President
Rhea served as Executive Director of Nick’s Place for 19 years. Her education, knowledge, and experience working with young men in early recovery helps Nick’s Place deliver a quality home and service to its young residents. Rhea is active in guiding the staff and board to continue our mission.
Rhea also has over 20 years of experience in direct mail fundraising and database management sales. While employed with Merkle, she served as an Account Executive for some of the country’s largest charitable organizations.
In 2014, Rhea addressed the local National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) on the topic of young adults in recovery and co-authored an article for Addiction Professional on-line publication on the same topic. In 2010 Rhea was awarded the Bank of America local hero award for her service to the community.
Rhea is partially retired and enjoys swimming, golfing, billiards, yoga, meditation. Rhea and Barry have recently adopted Bruno, who is the cutest little dog you have ever seen. All three of them enjoy walks together and doggy dates with other feline friends from the neighborhood.
Andrew is a person in long term recovery and is a former resident of Nick’s Place. He is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) and a Registered Peer Supervisor. He began with Nick’s Place as the Program Coordinator in 2014, advanced to Program Director, and in 2019, he took on the role of Executive Director. He has assumed all day-to-day organizational administrative responsibilities including staff management and financial responsibility. He brings strong administrative skills from his previous position at The Overhead Door Company. Andrew is married with two children and loves playing Disc Golf.
Nick is former resident of Nick's Place and joined the team in January 2021. As a person in long term recovery, he brings a passion for working with young men and a strong background in technology. Nick has studied mathematics and is currently in school for video game design. His experience living in the house gives him an amazing ability to relate to "Our Guys" and he is currently taking classes to become a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS). Nick was a Project Manager at The Overhead Door Company of Washington DC before transitioning to a Sales Representative position in the food industry.
He lives in Laurel with his girlfriend and two cats. He enjoys playing video games with several alumni of Nick's Place and recently completed a triathalon.
Dr. Michelle Shaivitz is an achiever in every sense of the word. A non-profit Executive, national speaker, author, and community activist, she attacks any problem in life with passion.
She is a Doctor with more than 20 years of experience in education, non-profit, and organizational leadership. Dr. Shaivitz has a long history of working to improve the lives of others.
She has embraced leadership roles, both foreign and domestic, in the public and private sectors, winning the coveted Medal of Achievement for Civilian Service, a Commander's Award given by the Department of the Army.
Michelle lives in Maryland and is a wife and mother of two. She is a lover of all animals, good food, great coffee, and all things recovery!