Board of Directors
In the centre, immediate past chair Michael Federico and founder and executive director Dr. Franca Carella surrounded by directors Joe Grando, Dawna Borg, and Robert Ursini on the left, and dIrectors Nancy Postiglione, Michelle Zerillo-Sosa, and Michael Stoltz on the right.
Alex Anapolsky, Vice Chair
Nancy Postiglione, Secretary
Veronica Puls, Chair
Michael Stoltz, Treasurer
Application to be a Director
If you are interested in serving as a director of The Vitanova Foundation, please download, print and complete the application as directed. You have the option of mailing, faxing, or scanning and emailing your completed application.
Alternatively, you can complete it on-line and press SUBMIT at the end of the application.
We will acknowledge receipt of your application as soon as possible, and let you know the outcome of our search at the earliest opportunity.
Cindy Cepparo has been with Vitanova since the very beginning, and was in fact the first person hired over thirty years ago! She is a Master of Arts in social work, and oversees the day-to-day planning and operation of the Foundation, as well as leading our re-accreditation working group.
905-850-3690 Ext 231
Director Public Relations
Tony Carella was a founding director of Vitanova in 1987, and he has served as a board member and general-all-around-volunteer ever since. After the passing of his wife, Franca, and at the request of the board, Tony has taken on this more public role as the unpaid, part-time public relations “face” of Vitanova.
Director Strategic Operations
Dalubuhle (Dalu) Ndlovu is a graduate in Human Rights & Equity Studies from York University and is certified in Negotiation & Leadership Skills from Harvard Law School. As part of his role as a director, he supports the Executive Director in overseeing the administration, day-to-day operation of programs and the strategic plan, as well as implementing strategies to ensure the timely progression and achievement of both short and long-term strategic goals.
905-850-3690 Ext 232
Cosimo Schiafone has been with Vitanova since 1992. Besides facilitating a number of different day-program groups and our evening aftercare group, he is our Property Manager and a co-chair of our Joint Health & Safety Committee.
905-850-3690 Ext 229
Jessica Malynyk 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 Work diploma. She was appointed Program Manager in 2019 and is a member of our Joint Health and Safety Committee.
905-850-3690 Ext 243
Jordynne Peelar has been in this key position with Vitanova since 2018 —she is after all the first person visitors meet when coming through the front door. And she is excellent at her job of welcoming all.
905-850-3690, Ext. 226
Administrative Assistant & Peer Support Worker
Sal Corradino has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto and over thirty-five years of experience in corporate operations, much of which he draws on to assist in a variety of “back of office” tasks. As well, he is a peer support worker with our Tuesday night family support group.
905-850-3690, Ext 244
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.
Harkit Bhandal graduated from York University, with a (Hons) Bachelor of Social Work. She is responsible for all pre-admission assessments of clients.
905-850-3690 Ext 232
Rosanna Di Rosa 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.
905-850-3690 Ext 227
905-850-3690, Ext 226
Peer Support Worker
Bill Ikonomakos brings over eighteen years of experience working in the field of mental health and addictions. Thanks to his lived experience, he brings genuine compassion and understanding to everything he does.
905-850-3690, Ext. 8
Intake Coordinator & Addiction Counsellor
Lurdes Jesus 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.
905-850-3690 Ext 224
Peer Support Worker
David Mancini, a member of the Vitanova community since 1993, has been a peer support worker since 2015, having studied addictions at the Stratford Career Institute.
905-850-3690 Ext 8
Addiction Support Worker
Cosimo Schiafone 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.
905-850-3690 Ext 229
Tanuj Sharma holds an (Hons) Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Psychology, as well as a Bachelors of Education and a Professional Addiction Studies diploma from McMaster University. He represents Vitanova in the Well(nest) project—an addiction day treatment program in west end North York.
905-850-3690 Ext 226
Strahinja (Tashy) Vukoje graduated from Guelph-Humber University, with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree (majoring in social work) and has a Social Service Worker diploma as well.
905-850-3690 Ext 226
Martina Vuksinic has been counselling in private practice for over two decades after completion of a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. Most recently she graduated from Humber College’s program in Addictions and Mental Health and stayed on at Vitanova after her work placement.
905-850-3690 Ext 226
Community Outreach Program
Community Outreach staff bring important information to people who often know nothing about Vitanova and why it exists. The fact is that substance use and abuse takes a heavy toll on our community, and while our clinical staff help with treatment and rehabilitation, our outreach team has two aims: to prevent people from being caught up in substance use and abuse and letting those who are and want help know where to find it.
Addiction & Family Counsellor
Maryann Di Paola has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from York University and a graduate certificate in Addictions and Mental Health from Durham College.She facilitates the Tuesday evening support group for families and friends while maintaining her own case load.
905-850-3690 Ext 233
Youth Outreach Worker & Communications Officer
Destin Bujang graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts with honours, majoring in Human Rights and Equity Studies. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Communications and is certified in settlement studies and crisis management. He has extensive experience working with youth and immigrants.
905-850-3690, Ext 291
Addiction Counselling/Harm reduction worker
Cristian Renzi has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from York University, and is completing a Master’s of arts degree in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University. A former placement student/volunteer of Vitanova, he currently facilitates/co-facilitates groups including life skills, goal setting and stabilization.
905-850-3690, Ext 216
Life Skills Coordinator
Anna Di Nardo is a veteran of the food services industry, with many years of experience in the field. That background makes her ideal when it comes to teaching clients about nutritious eating—knowledge that will help sustain their recovery over time.
905-850-3690, Ext 226
We are often asked what kind of volunteers we hope to attract? The answer depends on the prospective volunteers. Some help organize specific events, such as our annual fundraising dinner in the fall, or our open house in the summer. These we term temporary or “occasional volunteers” because they are involved for a set period of time only—as long as it takes to organize and stage an event. We are immensely grateful to these volunteers, many of whom have returned year after year, contributing their time and talents so generously.
A separate category of volunteers are those who volunteer on a regular basis, again giving of their time and talents over a number of months or longer. The profiles of two recent volunteers—Joanne and Robbie, will give you an idea of this second category of volunteers. Joanne first came to Vitanova looking for help for a relative; Robbie was a client who returned as an alumnus after he had completed the program.
Joanne first heard about Vitanova and 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 who 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!”
Robbiefinished 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 dollar’s 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.”