For 50 years, the Tempo Group/Tempo Youth, in Woodmere, has been treating people with addiction issues from across Nassau County. The nonprofit counseling center now has an office in the Bellmore-Merrick School District, which opened in 1995, and one in Syosset, which opened in 2007.
Tempo offers “Developed prevention, education, intervention and treatment programs in all areas related to substance abuse and family issues,” according to its website. The organization was incorporated in 1968, according to Executive Director Cindy Wolff.
Wolff has worked at the center since 2013, and has been executive director since June 2016. When someone calls for help, she said, Tempo swings into action. “When you call us up, our intake coordinator helps get people connected to the proper treatment that they’re seeking,” she said. “Since we’re nonprofit, we’ll never turn anyone away, regardless of your financial situation.” Tempo offers both individual and group treatment sessions.
The key to treating someone, Wolff said, is including his or her family in the entire process. “What I love about what we do is that we get the family involved,” she said, “which is an important part of treatment.”
Woodmere native Cathy Levine, the president of Tempo’s board of directors, has been involved with the organization for roughly 30 years. She echoed Wolff’s comments. “We don’t just treat the individual — we treat the whole family,” Levine said. “Addiction takes its toll on the family just as much as it does on the individual patient.”
One patient, who declined to be identified, said she began seeking treatment for drug addiction in 2008. She is still being treated, and recognizes what the staff did for her. “I credit Tempo for teaching me how to forgive people and love myself again,” she said. “They never gave up on me, even though I had given up on myself.”
She noted that Tempo was not the first place she sought help. “Other places thought I was too at-risk,” she said, “but Tempo was willing to treat me.”
Another patient, who declined to use his real name but called himself Derek, said he began receiving treatment for substance abuse at Tempo in June 2014. He started with one individual session per week, along with three group sessions. “My life was a mess at the time,” he said. “I was a 100 pounds overweight, and was just not a good person to be around.”
Derek, who is in his mid-30s, said he, too, sought treatment from other places before finding Tempo. He found those initial treatments overbearing. “Before Tempo, I found the sessions to be too long and uncomfortable,” he said. “Tempo’s therapy sessions just felt more comfortable to me, and it helped that they were only an hour and a half long, compared to the three-hour sessions that I previously dealt with. The staff really does a great job at relating to the patients.”
Derek still goes to Tempo once a week, but views the sessions as a “maintenance check” on himself instead of a necessity.
Tempo plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 4 at the Carltun at Eisenhower Park. Medical Director Dr. Kenneth Skodnek, and Levine and her husband, Dr. Michael Levine, the board’s vice president, will be honored, and Greg Tanenbaum, will be the first recipient of the Fred Lamon Recovery Award. The award is named in memory of Lamon, a founding board member who died last year.
“It makes me smile that they’re honoring me,” Cathy Levine said. “I take pride in knowing that there are so many families that we’ve helped over the years. Our staff is very dedicated to fighting the fight of drug abuse, which makes it such a privilege to work for Tempo.”
Town of Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman, a supporter of the organization’s work, highlighted its long-term success. “The Tempo Group, through their counseling, have saved hundreds and perhaps thousands over their 50 years of service,” Blakeman said. “Many of those lives saved are young people who got trapped in situations where they felt helpless, and Tempo Group gave them hope and a path to a healthy life.”
Even though it has been in business for 50 years, Levine jokes that she hopes it ends there. “I always joke that I hope we go out of business,” she said, “since that would mean that people aren’t suffering from substance abuse.”
To contact Tempo, call (516) 374-3671. Its staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.