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Recovery Learning Center moves to new home on Chapman St.

  • Western Mass Recovery Learning Community on Chapman Street in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Western Mass Recovery Learning Community on Chapman Street in Greenfield. December 20, 2017 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

GREENFIELD — The old space was embattled. The old space flooded. The old space had mold issues. The old space was too narrow. The old space was somewhat removed from Main Street. And, the old space was constantly confused with its neighboring space next door on Federal Street.

The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community of Greenfield is not The RECOVER Project (although they sometimes partner together and share spaces), and now it is clearer than ever which one is which.

After a 13 month search process, the Western Mass Recovery Learning Center (RLC), which works to support healing and growth for individual with advocacy and peer-to-peer support, has moved into a space on Chapman Street, ending a bit of a nomadic existence.

“The RLC is a community and we didn’t have a home for most of the year,” Lance Smith, a member, said. “We didn’t have a structural piece, having a door where someone could walk through and say this is the RLC.”

The time without a home was tough on the RLC, as its numbers waned and members were reliant on welcoming groups across the county hosting their programming. The old place, despite its issues, was still “home.” And like Smith said, “change is hard.”

“I know there were a lot of people who had emotional attachment from that space,” Natan Cohen, a peer and employee of the RLC, said.

Even before their old space on Federal Street faced several compliance issues, like problems with mold, the RLC had other hurdles with its Franklin County location. One challenge was funding, stemming from its reliance on an annual Community Development Block grant from Greenfield. After five years of staying buoyant by the funds, the organization lost about one-third of grant money in 2015 because of the state budget cuts earlier in the year.

Now, two years later, the organization, which is a part of the umbrella organization Western Mass Training Consortium, including The RECOVER Project, has found some relative stability with its shoestring budget that is partly funded by the state Department of Mental Health.

This brings them to their new location — a spacious spot on Chapman Street, with newly painted walls with bright colors. A location with a full kitchen, so that they can run activities like they did this Thanksgiving, hosting a dinner for its members and people in the community. Logistically, basic things like a group talk are much easier now, with a wide enough space that you can form a circle in.

These fixes may seem small but it’s those exact changes that can help anyone, particularly someone working through various aspects of recovery. Of course there were some people who held onto emotional attachment to the old location, some of its members said recently, but the new location is quickly becoming home.

While some groups the RLC holds may have not continued or grown during the transition time, the one that held strong was its alternative suicide group. It’s the RLC’s routinely most well attended group, which helps people cope with various issues, outside of the typical clinical approach.

“Just the fact that going through all this time with all this chaos ... yes, our bringing in new people has slowed down, but we have such a strong group of community members,” Cohen said.