ALBANY, N.Y. — Four community-based organizations are being awarded $320,000 by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports and the Office of Mental Health. The money is being used to educate the public about their rights and access to insurance coverage for behavioral health issues.

“Our newest program that we are starting up here at Second Chance Opportunities, we're contracted with OASAS and OMH, is called CHAMP," said Erica Cecala, executive assistant and recovery coordinator for Second Chance Opportunities. "CHAMP stands for Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Health Care Project.”

CHAMP was created to increase access to substance use and mental health care by assisting individuals in maximizing the use of insurance benefits. And those seeking help can get it with just the click of a button.

“We'll get people who call us and say, like, you know, I want to go to treatment, but I don't have insurance," Cecala said. "And that could be the thing that stops them from getting help right there. So that could be like the defining moment in there, you know, potential journey to recovery.”

The following organizations are each receiving up to $80,000 in funding through this initiative, in addition to Second Chance Opportunities, AIM Independence, Andreus and the Phoenix House will also receive funding. This new initiative will do wonders for people seeking help similar to Cecala when she started her recovery journey four years ago.

“I’m a person in recovery from substance use disorder," said Cecala. "I haven't had what that means to me is I haven't had a drink or a drug since Jan. 23, 2019.”

And now thanks to the Second Chance Opportunity program, she is living a life that she had once dreamed of.

“I never really thought that I would be able to have a real job, like get up and come to an office setting every single day and have friends and have my family in my life who is incredibly supportive of me," Cecala said.