Nick’s Place was founded in 1999 in memory of Nicholas Cristarella. Nick loved to make people laugh. As a child he loved dinosaurs and natural disaster stories. He was a good dancer and was popular with the girls. His favorite holiday was Thanksgiving when he could play games with his cousins. He loved his family and felt bad about the heartache his disease caused. Although Nick went through several treatment programs, he was never able to maintain recovery for any length of time. Nick’s life ended as a result of the disease of addiction and alcoholism. Like so many young people 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, & 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 for his life and my own. Remembering his words, the vision was created: bringing young men together who all have the same goal. My husband, Barry embarked on finding the home that would lovingly be known as Nick’s Place.
We opened our doors in October of 2000 and have since served over 250 young men and their families. My husband, Barry, and I continue to be enthusiastic about Nick’s Place and feel great joy seeing the progress that our alumni have made: getting married, having children, building careers, and giving back to the community. These young men are family. I would 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.
Nick’s Place is now in the hands of our Executive Director and Alumnus, Andrew Malone who does an outstanding job of maintaining the original vision and expanding the program to best serve our residents.
Being able to provide a clean, safe, drug- and alcohol-free home to these young men is a blessing. It was certainly not without its challenges, but the rewards are worth it. Barry and I remain grateful that Nick’s life and death have provided so much opportunity to the lives of other young men.
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 his puppy posse from the neighborhood.
Barry is the co-founder of Nick's Place. He played an integral role in securing the house that became home to hundreds of young men.
Barry worked for the Washington Post as a printer for 30 years. He retired shortly before Nick's Place opened and was chauffeur, job seeker, cook and mentor for many of our early residents. Both he and Rhea were daily fixtures at Nick's Place for 18 years.
To this day nothing makes him happier than to hear from and hear about the lives of our residents.
Barry enjoys playing golf and pool in his community in Delaware.
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.
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!
Nick is a 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 Simulation and 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 Gambrills with his girlfriend and three cats. He enjoys playing video games with several alumni of Nick's Place, photography, digital art, and recently began painting.