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Herb Barish, Co-Founder of One of NYC's Oldest Drug Treatment Programs, Dead at 77

New York, NY, February 08, 2015 --( Herbert Barish, a clinical social worker and co-founder of The Lower Eastside Service Center, Inc., one of New York's oldest drug treatment programs, died on Wednesday at Hackensack Hospital at Pascack Valley in Westwood, New Jersey. He was 77. His son, David, confirmed his death.

In 1959, a group of Lower East Side churches and settlement houses banded together to form the Lower Eastside Information and Service Center for Narcotic Addiction, Inc. in a storefront on Henry Street. From that, Herb Barish, then a social work intern and Edward Brown, a pastoral counselor began the Lower Eastside Service Center (LESC) to respond to the heroin epidemic that was tearing through the community. The not-for-profit agency he helped create continues to follow its core mission of helping the heroin addict, and today's prescription opioids like OxyContin and oxycodone, with a range of services that includes methadone maintenance and buprenorphine, residential treatment, supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals and families impacted by addiction and persons living with HIV/AIDS and services for clients struggling with both chemical dependency and mental health (co-occurring disorders) challenges.

Under Mr. Barish's leadership, LESC grew into a multi-modality agency with a $15 million annual budget. He served as president & CEO from 2005 until his retirement in 2013.

LESC’s President & CEO, Valerie C. Walters, said Mr. Barish designed and developed a number of innovative programs including a unique "Short Stay" residential program to help stabilize men and women on methadone maintenance whose abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs makes their continuing in treatment unlikely without such intervention; a collaboration with Bellevue Hospital that supports LESC's 10-bed unit for opioid dependent pregnant women and their infants after delivery; the Su Casa methadone-to-abstinence residential program, and a Continuing Day Treatment Program for severely mentally ill Chinese speaking clients at the agency's East Broadway site in the heart of Chinatown.

"Herbs was committed to finding a way to help the children of addicts face the challenges so many face," CEO Walters added, "and was able to develop our Bridge2Life Camp & Kids Club to begin to address the high risk of 'second generation' substance abuse such youngsters face.

"Herb was invaluable to LESC," said Ms. Walters. "In keeping with his vision of providing a holistic approach to the needs of the individual in treatment, He knew that supportive housing was essential. He developed three cutting edge supportive housing programs: LESC House, a 25-studio residence for men and women living with HIV/AIDS; Diversity Works, supportive housing for families whose head of household has dealt with substance abuse; a new Franklin Avenue Residence also in the Bronx for formerly homeless individuals struggling to overcome addiction."

“Herb will be missed,” said David Rosenstein a member of LESC's Board of Trustees. “He was a pioneer in NYC’s struggle to address a scourge that tore through our communities from LESC’s formation in 1959. Unlike many other treatment programs, LESC under Ed (Founder Edmund Brown) and Herb and those who followed them, stuck to its core mission of helping the most desperate, least politically correct, the street addict. Herb’s compassion for our clients and the community we serve is legendary.”

The Lower Eastside Service Center, Inc. (LESC) is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit corporation serving the five boroughs of New York City since 1959. Its primary mission is to provide treatment and care for New Yorkers living with chemical dependency and mental illness. For more information about any of LESC’s life-changing programs, please visit or call 212-566-LESC (5372).
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Lower Eastside Service Center
William Schuler

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