DIAL/SELF moves young adult drop-in resource center in Orange

  • Drop-In Youth Worker Heather Bernard, at left, and Youth and Young Adult Outreach Supervisor Thaddeus Poulter in the new DIAL/SELF drop-in center and food pantry that are now open in the Orange Innovation Center in Orange. DIAL/SELF was previously located at 15 to 17 West Main St. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Orange Innovation Center in Orange houses a plethora of businesses and nonprofits, including the most recent addition, DIAL/SELF. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/3/2020 3:11:23 PM

ORANGE — A nonprofit that helps young people gain independence by connecting them with housing, employment, education and civic engagement has moved its primary North Quabbin drop-in space for ages 24 and under.

DIAL/SELF opened at the Orange Innovation Center at 131 West Main St. on Oct. 27, having moved out of 15 to 17 East Main St. The agency now shares a building with other providers such as the Center for Human Development, The Literacy Project, the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center, the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT) and the YMCA.

“Being in the same building as other providers, we’re really looking forward to seeing how this works out for us,” DIAL/SELF Executive Director Phil Ringwood said, adding that the agencies regularly conduct cross-referrals. “We’re hoping to maybe pull in some more providers. The layout in that space is really nice for us.”

DIAL/SELF will occupy Suites 225 and 226 on the Orange Innovation Center’s second floor. Suite 225 will be used for meeting with youth involved in case management services while Suite 226 will feature drop-in resources such as a youth and young adult food pantry, access to basic hygiene supplies, and access to housing, life skills and case management supports.

Initially, the hours for youth to drop by without an appointment will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. According to Ringwood, these hours will be subject to change as the agency monitors how remote learning and public transportation schedules affect youth needs throughout the year.

Both office suites are wheelchair-accessible due to an elevator on the first floor and ramp access directly to the second floor from the parking area behind the building.

Ringwood noted the Orange Innovation Center has a laundromat that could prove useful for young people who stop by for services.

The spaces on East Main Street were great, Ringwood said, and he will miss the storefront element it offered. But the suites at the Orange Innovation Center make for “much more destination shopping, so to speak.”

DIAL/SELF started operating out of the former spaces in 2007 or 2008 and originally rented from the owners, who also own the antique shop across the street. DIAL/SELF purchased the building around 2009 and transferred ownership of the building to another nonprofit.

Ringwood explained the Orange Innovation Center suites will typically have two staff members at any given time, though that number will often be reduced to one due to COVID-19 safety restrictions.

Property investor Jack Dunphy owns the Orange Innovation Center building, having purchased it from Noel Vincent — who ran the Bedroom Factory out of the facility for decades — six years ago and continued to run it as the business incubator Vincent had converted it into. He said the building now houses eight nonprofits, meaning people who get cross-referrals can visit another agency in the same building, instead of having to go to a different town.

The center also houses a plethora of businesses, including a tattoo parlor and an artisan brewery, as well as a non-profit, member-based makerspace.

“It’s one of the things that attracted me to the building in the first place,” Dunphy explained, “was being a part of an energetic group that is trying to do some interesting things and some good things in the world.”

More information about DIAL/SELF, which was incorporated by a doctor and other community members in 1977, is available at dialself.org or by calling 413-774-7054, ext. 4.

Reach Dom Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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