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ARC director James Allen retires after 56 years

AUTODIDACT 17 | 4/24/2014, 3:33 p.m.

After providing his committed services to the Addicts Rehabilitation Center (ARC) for over half a century, Executive Director James Allen announced his retirement from the organization last week.

As he sought support in conquering his heroin addiction in 1957, Allen built alliances with the Rev. Eugene Callender from the Manhattan Reformed Christian Church and offered his assistance after hearing Callendar announce his intention to start a rehabilitation program.

“I was called to ARC from the pulpit,” said Allen. “I have been blessed to spend the greater part of my life serving God through serving others.”

During the course of his 50-plus year career, ARC has served thousands of people, built six new buildings that produced over 900 units of affordable housing and renovated four buildings. “ARC is in my blood, and I have left it in good hands,” Allen proudly stated.

The ARC is one of the oldest, largest and most successful intensive residential drug-free programs in New York. It serves the chronically homeless, the mentally impaired, people living with HIV/AIDS, veterans and over 1,000 people with special needs. The ARC has been serving people in the Harlem community for 56 years and is one of the few independently operated rehabilitation facilities that addresses the whole person by acknowledging how the intersection of race, poverty and addiction will affect program participants upon leaving the facility.

The ARC is now firmly in the hands of the Rev. Reggie Williams, its new president and CEO. “Mr. Allen has provided us with a lasting example through his steadfast commitment and service to humanity. He leaves us with a rich heritage in which we are all very proud,” said Williams. “[Allen] went from an addict to executive director and has been a constant guiding light in my life since [our] fateful meeting many years ago.”

The ARC will be hosting a retirement gala to honor Allen and his numerous contributions to the community this fall.