Board of Directors
Joe Grando, Chair
Nancy Postiglione, Secretary
Veronica Puls, Vice Chair
Michael Stoltz, Treasurer
Application for Directorship
If you are interested in serving as a director of The Vitanova Foundation, click here. Please complete and submit the application as directed. We thank you for your interest, but only selected applicants—those who have the specific expertise and experience required by the board at the time an application is submitted—will receive a response.
Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Franca Damiani Carella, D.S.L.
Franca Damiani Carella trained as a nurse at the International Refugee Organization hospital in Naples, Italy, before emigrating to Canada in the mid-1950’s. By 1976, she was the first director of social services at Villa Colombo, later launching VitaSana: The Family Health Magazine with long-time friend and associate Dr. Renzo Cardone. VitaSana readers first alerted her to the then-emerging issue of youth drug abuse, which led to her founding of The Vitanova Foundation in 1987.
Clinical Program Staff
The staff at Vitanova is committed to the belief that “the client can recover”—a belief that, in an environment of genuine care, the client—whether substance users, abusers, or addicts—can embrace recovery. In dealing with individuals who by virtue of their addictive personalities are given to unreasonable behaviour, our counselors call upon their clinical knowledge, training in the field and, in some cases, their own personal journeys of recovery in order to reach beyond such behaviour and touch the person inside. Working at Vitanova is not just a job. It requires an attitude of patience, empathy and flexibility on the part of staff in dealing with clients who are by definition not accustomed to abiding by rules.
Cindy has been with Vitanova since the beginning, and was in fact the first person hired over thirty years ago! She holds a Master of Arts degree in social work, and oversees day-to-day planning and operation of our day treatment program, as well as leading our re-accreditation working group.
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Rosanna Di Rosa
Rosanna graduated in psychology from York University and has a diploma in social service work. She has been an addictions counsellor and group facilitator with Vitanova since 2012, specializing in a range of treatment modalities. She also serves as our volunteer coordinator.
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Lia is art therapist and psychoanalytically-trained and registered psychotherapist who has been providing art therapy to clients in weekly individual and group sessions since 2006.
Intake Coordinator & Addiction Counsellor
Lurdes has been with Vitanova since 2010, first as an addictions and community service worker, more recently as intake coordinator and leader of several groups, including acu-detox, goal-setting, spirituality and anger management.
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Peer Support Worker
David, a member of the Vitanova community since 1993, has been a peer support worker since 2015, having studied addictions at the Stratford Career Institute.
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Jessica has been an addictions counsellor at Vitanova since 2014. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology, a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Psychology, and Social Service Worker diploma.
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Addiction Case Manager
Danielle is an addiction counsellor with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree, and a Master of Education degree in Developmental Psychology and Education. She is an Applied Mindfulness Meditation Specialist, in charge of the Mindfulness Meditation and Smoking Cessation Programs at the Vitanova Foundation
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Addiction Support Worker & Facilities Manager
Cosimo is an addiction support counsellor who has been with Vitanova since 1992. He facilitates a number of different day-program groups as well as our evening aftercare group. He is also our Facility Manager and Health & Safety Representative.
firstname.lastname@example.org 905-850-3690 Ext 229
Outreach Program Staff
Outreach Director & Executive Assistant
Dalubuhle (Dalu), Director of Outreach Programs, is a graduate in Human Rights & Equity Studies from York University and is certified in Negotiation and Leadership Skills from Harvard Law School.
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Community Outreach Worker & Addiction Counsellor
Christina is our Outreach Worker for Wellness, with a social science degree from York University and a social service work diploma from Seneca College. She has been with Vitanova since 2017 and works with collaborating agencies in providing addiction and mental health resources and support.
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Addiction Case Manager & Justice Support Worker
Lori Carnaleis the Case Manager for Harm Reduction with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a diploma in Police Foundations. She has fifteen years of combined experience in law enforcement, corrections and addictions and is responsible for assisting clients navigate through the court diversion process.
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Residential Services Coordinator
Tina Cyr coordinates non-clinical assistance to our clients, what is often referred to as our “wraparound services”—arranging for support in the form of medical and dental care, legal aid, disability supports, and so on. She has been with Vitanova since 1999.
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Jordynne Peelar is our receptionist, the first person most people encounter on coming to Vitanova. Her most obvious skill is in making people feel welcome, while supplying basic information about Vitanova.
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Volunteers are an important part of our team, as they bring additional time and talents to the service of our clients. That was the case with Joanne. When she first heard about Vitanova, she thought it might be just the thing she was looking for. Not that she had a problem with alcohol or drugs, but a very close relative did. But he wasn’t interested in treatment and Joanne (not her real name) didn’t need it. But she did need to learn how she could help her relative and Vitanova, she thought, might just be the place. She called, was told about the Tuesday evening support group for family members, and came the very next week.
When she was asked to introduce herself and say why she had come, she did so, but the response was a bit of a surprise. A number of the other attendees told her about their situations—wanting help for a family member who didn’t want help—and how she was the person they proposed to help. She came back the next week, and the week after that, and soon she decided that one night a week at Vitanova was not enough. So she volunteered to cook a couple of days a week. As she began to connect with the clients wjo were assigned to help in the kitchen, she opened up about why she was there and gradually she found her mood lifting. Her relative noticed it as well. And then he decided he would give Vitanova a try. He did, and after several months and a lot of hard work, he graduated and moved on to aftercare. But Joanne decided she wanted to stay a while longer, and did.
Three years later, she and her relative were talking about their experience at Vitanova. Joanne mentioned she is still in touch with some of the clients she worked with while directing the cooking. But she was surprised by one thing her relative said: “Do you know how many hearts you touched at Vitanova? When I run into people who were there when we were, they always ask me how you are doing? And they always have a big smile on their face!”
A Profile of Robbie
Robbie finished his program at Vitanova almost ten years ago and subsequently pursued a long-time interest in financial affairs. As his career progressed, he began to appreciate how much of a mess he had made of his personal finances while he was using, and how convinced he once was that he would never be other than a financial failure.
And then it dawned on him that, as a recovered addict, he was uniquely placed to help other recovering addicts put their finances in order. So he contacted Vitanova about his idea, and he’s been at it ever since.
Twice a month, Robbie holds a group session with day program clients, teaching them the basics of personal financial management: budgeting, use of credit cards, savings accounts, long-term financial goals, etc. He also meets with clients individually; as he says, many are reluctant to talk about the financial “shenanigans” they indulged in when they were using. He understands, so one-on-one sessions are very important.
Discussion often turns on issues like credit ratings. They are easy to obtain these days, and are useful when it comes to anyone understanding the starting point for achieving some financial goal. Owning a home is a common one, and quite a few of Robbie’s clients have, with his help, devised a plan that will make that possible.What’s Robbie’s take away from all this? In his words: “A million dollars worth of personal satisfaction. I love giving back to the organization that made such a difference in my life and to those it serves; now I can help make a difference in the lives of those who followed me.”