FITCHBURG — Battling addiction is a difficult journey for millions people across the country, but with the grand opening of the Restoration Recovery Center on Fairmount Street Saturday, those living in recovery will find a ray of hope.
The recovery center is a nonprofit that helps those suffering from substance abuse. The center, located in the former Cleghorn Neighborhood Center building, is a safe place for people seeking addiction recovery through a person-centered and faith-based approach.
Founders Julia Armstrong and her husband Mark have been hard at work renovating the space and say they are excited for the door to officially be open.
“It’s pretty surreal,” said Julia. “When we first came to see the building, we had a vision and we made it happen.”
“After our first look at the building it was in pretty rough shape,” said Mark. “It’s not all too different than someone in recovery from addiction. When someone pours time into them, they can change from the inside out, just like we did with this building.”
The center has seen over 70 volunteers put in over 800 hours in the past few months, many of which are people in recovery, she said.
“We wouldn’t be where we are with this building without those people,” said Mark. “It’s about that pay-it-forward mentality in recovery. We do what we do because we’re excited to help other people down the line.”
After news broke that the recovery center would be opening, Julia said the public response has been somewhat overwhelming.
“I couldn’t believe how many people have reached out and said they were happy this was happening in the community,” said Julia.
The pair, who are in recovery themselves, are opening the center to address the gaps in service they seen in the Cleghorn area, as well as to provide service for individuals and families affected by substance use disorder.
“In the long run, we hope to invest in the community and in people so that they can get into recovery and stay long-term,” said Mark. “Giving them an opportunity to invest in the community is what we’re passionate about.”
Julia describes the center as a “peer-support community center” where people can come to for coaching, mentoring, skill development, and all of the resources they need to live a normal life.
The center will provide a space for meetings and support groups, such as Christian Recovery meetings, 12 Step meetings, Veteran Support and Family Support groups.
It will also be used for training such as training how to use Narcan, a drug used to reverse an opioid overdose, and first-aid.
She says there is space for employment services, such as computer lab access for participants and a closet containing clothes for job interviews and business casual attire.
The Recovery Coach Academy is one of the most important resources to be offered by the center. The program allows individuals, with recovery experience, to help guide other people in recovery.
For Julia, the center is a necessary tool for recovery in the community while the country battles the opioid epidemic.
“There’s an epidemic and people are dying,” said Armstrong. “The solutions aren’t exactly working.”
She said the center recently received a $20,000 grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts to support to program. The foundation group helps their donors make a positive impact on the community and serves 33 communities throughout North Central Massachusetts.
During the opening, Sen. Dean Tran presented the center with an additional $20,000 in funding to expand services, and Julia said the assistance was greatly appreciated.
“To get that grant felt absolutely amazing, we needed that boost,” she said. “That kind of funding has made it much easier to transition into the center.”
“Substance abuse has been plaguing our communities for too long, and it is imperative that we help provide the necessary resources,” said Sen. Tran in a Facebook post. “Short-term solutions have a history of short-term results and it is important that we continue to make long-term investments in individuals suffering from addiction.”
Julia said the center is accepting donations to fund the programming they offer. The Restoration Recovery Center was recently approved for 501c3 status.