Written on: September 18, 2013
Sister Eleanore Therese Martinez (aka Joan) is rarely known as anything except “Ellie.” Six Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart had the opportunity to share in a retirement dinner and tribute for Ellie on July 28, 2013.
Dick Gallagher, Ellie’s former boss and longtime friend, well respected executive director of Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services, Inc. and untiring advocate for addicted youth in Western New York, started off the evening by stating that this was in fact the “canonization” of Sister Eleanore Martinez. He was right! In attendance were former and current staff members of Renaissance Campus, the facility in West Seneca where Ellie has been Director for more than 25 years, Ellie’s sister and other relatives, friends, former residents of Renaissance Campus, former students from Holy Angels Academy, colleagues from other facilities where Ellie has ministered 33 years with /Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services – ADDS and 9 years with halfway houses and over 22 years on Campus. The guests filled a big banquet room at Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant near Buffalo, NY.
Rev. Barry Lillis, well-known Buffalo Channel 2 TV personality and co-founder of Kids Escaping Drugs, the fund-raising agency that supports Renaissance Campus, opened the evening with prayer and later spoke with glowing praise of the incredible work done since 1987 by Alcohol and Drug Dependence Services and of Ellie’s leadership at Renaissance – once just House, now Campus. Renaissance Campus is a 62-bed facility for adolescent boys and girls age 12 to 21 who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.
The last tribute was by a former resident of Renaissance Campus — one of hundreds of young people whose life was turned around by the experience of holistic support and treatment she received from Ellie and others on staff. Those present were noticeably moved by her testimony. Appreciation was expressed to the Grey Nuns by both Dick Gallagher and Ellie, who recalled in her own remarks that her family and her Grey Nun congregation had made it possible for her to become a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor and to do whatever she has been able to do. .
One of the gifts Ellie received from her co-workers and friends was a hot air balloon ride- May you continue to float through a happy retirement, Sr. Ellie!