NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — For the past six months, a growing community has been meeting weekly to create a safe haven for people in recovery.
And now, that community is able to meet in its own space, the Have Hope Peer Recovery Center located at 37 Main St.
Director Rebecca Dodge on Wednesday pointed out a change from the previous week, the first week the gathering met inside the new center: no borrowed chairs.
"We are sitting on our own chairs," she said to a round of applause.
The organization's mission is peer support recovery rooted in dignity and respect. It was made possible by a five-year state Bureau of Substance and Addiction Services contract through the Brien Center.
It is meant to be an accessible hub for peer support and substance-use services as well as a support center for families affected by addiction. The center will support traditional and nontraditional pathways to recovery, while also providing hope and promoting wellness.
A volunteer-led recovery center was established part time in 2019 but closed after changes in staffing and the pandemic.
Have Hope will operate with a budget, staff, administrative support and a permanent location in the Berkshire Plaza. However, its goal is to be community and peer driven.
Dodge has long been involved in substance abuse recovery and established the Have Hope Initiative after the death of a close friend from addiction.
On Wednesday, each attendee was acknowledged and included in the decision making that occurred. A binder that is available to everyone in the center includes notes on all of the progress being made, the changes being adopted and all of the policies in place. Transparency is a key tenet.
Those present, members of the center and the staff, discussed the small changes that had been made to a draft mission statement and then accepted the statement. Next, the vision and values were given a final look before being voted on and accepted.
Then, more good news was announced: in the next week several deliveries are expected: couches, chairs, end tables, shelving, a television, computers, office supplies. In fact, the first order of business that evening was to circulate a volunteer sign-up sheet for those who would come to unbox items, to help put the shelving and other items together and to continue setting up the space. The list quickly grew with eager volunteers.
Program specialist Dylan Hilchey reminded everyone that during these past couple of weeks while they've been waiting for deliveries, staff have already been assisting many people with housing applications, getting IDs, applying for jobs and more. As they get up to speed, the center will be open most days from 10 to 4, but soon will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 to 7.
A grand opening is expected in mid-February and there's much to be accomplished.
So far, this growing community has collectively chosen the colors for the walls, the flooring, the furniture and even the hours the center should be open. On this evening, discussion focused on the sorts of daily activities that will be scheduled.
"We had a recovery center in town for a little while," one attendee remembered. "It didn't have support and it faded out. It was only open a couple of days and the hours always changed."
"Consistency! People didn't know when you could go," said another.
Julian Ramos, a recovery coach for the center, described how he "didn't know anything about recovery or detox until I got invited into the recovery center where I lived."
Another attendee said they utilized the Greenfield and Holyoke recovery centers so had "a pretty good idea of what things can look like." Classes, meetings and life skills were all discussed.
"We can make the fun come true," said Dodge. "People say sobriety isn't fun. Let's think of the fun we can have too."
Dances, karaoke, potluck dinners and other activities were added to the list.
The center's core values of acceptance, integrity, community, dignity and respect were particularly evident as the community worked through the discussion, staying focused and making sure everyone was heard.
Nearly 30 people were assembled, arriving on time, following the agenda, enthusiastically taking care of business and envisioning all of the opportunities their futures hold. In just one hour the mission and values statements were accepted, the volunteer list for when deliveries are expected filled, a solid list of activities to schedule was created, and a few other topics were introduced for further discussion.
The meeting ended then, with everyone agreeing, same time, same place, next week.
The Have Hope Peer Recovery Center is located in Suite 201, 37 Main St.in suite 201, with the entrance on the side of the building. Weekly meetings are currently held on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact the director at Rebecca.email@example.com or 413-346-8896.
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How can women bridge the retirement gap?
Submitted by Edward Jones
March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.
Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:
Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses.
Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:
Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.
It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.
Growing up in Boston, he majored in biology at Boston College, where he also lettered in football for the Eagles. He would go on to Tufts Medical School but took a year off graduate school and taught during the busing crisis of the 1970s.
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