Pleasant Hill father builds drug treatment center to honor late daughter

- A new Contra Costa County drug treatment center opened this month in Martinez to honor a Pleasant Hill man’s late daughter who struggled with drug addiction. 

Anthony LoForte Sr. and his daughter Katherine LoForte had an idea to transform her Alhambra Valley home into a rehab after she personally sought treatment, explored her own sobriety and studied addiction at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill. The construction of her home was LoForte’s way of giving back to addicts seeking treatment. 

But LoForte didn’t get to see the first patient come through the doors when Alhambra Valley Retreat opened on Sept. 4. After deciding to devote her life to helping those who shared her struggles, she fell to her own battle on June 30, 2017 when she suffered a heart attack shortly after relapsing. She was 41 and had two young kids. 

“Alhambra Valley Retreat keeps her alive,” said 80-year-old LoForte Sr. “Her spirit is alive. And as long as her spirit is alive, she lives.” 

The tragedy speaks to the non-discriminatory horrors of addiction. A type of insidiousness that doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, educated or employed. “Katherine absolutely understood addiction intellectually, but she could not do it physically,” said Kevin Robertson, Executive Director of Alhambra Valley Retreat. 

Before LoForte died, she and her father approached Timothy Fitzgerald – her former assessment counselor at MPI Treatment Services in Oakland – and pitched the idea of turning her 5,250 square foot home into a rehab. LoForte had a few years of sobriety at this point, Fitzgerald said. When LoForte died, and after learning her father decided to continue construction, Fitzgerald decided he, too, was all in.

“Anthony took a tragedy in life that wiped him out and turned it into a beautiful gift to help people with addiction,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s incredible.” 

Once LoForte Sr. brought on Fitzgerald and Robertson, who assisted with licensing procedures, he stepped aside to let the two experienced men handle staffing. “The people we’ve brought on, I’ve worked with them for years,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re wonderful people. We’re going to save a lot of lives.” 

Addicts die daily in the United States. Last year, more than 72,000 people suffered fatal overdoses. The folks at Alhambra Valley Retreat want to do their part in extending a branch to the still-suffering addict by mirroring Katherine LoForte’s vision. 

And they’ve done it. Her ideas were preserved in her father’s pursuit to extend his daughter’s name and the result is a beautiful facility slated to save lives. But there was an extra, non-original detail added before the grand opening. The final name on the logo reads: “Alhambra Valley Retreat: Katherine’s House.”

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