Our Story

Nick's Story

The Nick of Nicks Place

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 hundreds of 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.