Recovery resource fair at Greenfield Community College encourages outreach

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/19/2018 6:46:19 PM

GREENFIELD — Jenny has been clean for about 11 months. She lives in a sober home in Greenfield.

When Jenny got out of jail, her counselor helped connect her with some resources in the community, including a sober living situation, but some of her peers haven’t been so fortunate.

Coming out of incarceration or looking for a sober home can often feel isolating, Jenny said, leaving you with questions of what resources are in this rural region.

That’s what made the recovery resource fair, hosted by the Opioid Task Force at Greenfield Community College, a significant event for many of the dozens of people who passed through Tuesday morning.

“I really think this is a great opportunity for all men and women, especially coming out of jail, to be aware of everything that’s out there and know they’re not alone in this process of recovery,” said Jenny, who wanted to keep her last name out of the paper given her circumstances in recovery.

Jenny and others who attended the “Where to Turn Resource Fair” encouraged the task force and community partners to come together more often in a united front like they did on the dining commons. The event brought together about 35 organizations from around the state.

For the North Quabbin Community Coalition, Tuesday was a chance to let people know about its recently opened recovery center, run by the coalition’s Executive Director Heather Bialecki-Canning.

“North Quabbin was always a community that subtly encouraged substance use. It was a right of a passage,” Bialecki-Canning said. But, she said, events like the one Tuesday show “a shift.”

Jamie Woods, a peer leader at the center in Athol, said the resource fair was a chance for him to meet others in recovery and providers that he didn’t know about previously. The most important thing to him was meeting others looking for help.

“When I first got sober, I was full of fear,” Woods said. “I didn’t want to ask anybody for help. Hardest thing to do was to reach my hand out for help.”

Coming to an event like this resource fair with dozens of organizations and plenty of unfamiliar faces can be a source of anxiety for people in recovery, Woods said, but also an opportunity.

“I have so much passion for this because I wish it was there for me,” Woods said about working with the recovery center. “Let’s just hope we can pull some people together and help our community.”

Ruben Mercado, a re-entry caseworker at the Franklin County House of Correction, brought along some of the inmates he has been working with so they can see the resources available.

His colleague, Levin Schwartz, director of clinical and re-entry services at the House of Correction, explained the significance of the day.

“It gives them a sense of hope and optimism and a sense of self efficiency,” Schwartz said. “When people are in the criminal justice system, they can feel very stuck, but going to GCC and places like this, it’s the antithesis of that.”

Steven “Skip” Sommer, who was incarcerated here, has become an active member of the local recovery community. He knew many of the people in attendance at the fair, but still learned a few things about Social Security and finding adequate housing for a person in recovery.

“I used to be one of the problems, but I try to be the solution,” Sommer said. “All the resources I learn, I can now pass on to others.”

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264


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