The Boothbay region has a new peer support and recovery center through Amistad, a Portland-based nonprofit. The Boothbay Region Peer Center at 35 School St. in Boothbay Harbor officially opened its doors Nov. 20 to those seeking help with mental health and substance abuse issues.
“We all have a story,” said Program Coordinator Adam Sterrs.
There has been an ongoing effort to bring institutional support for those dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues, said Sterrs. The Boothbay Harbor location, long in the works, was made possible by a state grant to help establish new peer support and recovery centers more than 30 miles from larger service centers.
While the grant focuses on substance abuse issues, these often go hand in hand with mental health issues, so services will be broad, Sterrs said. He added, Maine Department of Health and Human Services has found that substance abuse is three times as likely for those with mental health issues.
“61,000 Mainers have an alcohol use disorder … 7,000 12 and older reported using heroin in the past year. That is alarming.”
Sterrs said the center plans to have other groups help with cover letters and resumes as well as alcoholics anonymous, self discovery groups, and creative writing classes. Sterrs and his assistant Emily Carroll plan to bring their real life experiences and give support. Both have been affected by substance abuse issues.
“We're really hoping to just help make the conversation about addiction and alcoholism and recovery and wellness and all of those things … an actual conversation that people are having and not behind closed doors in a ‘We don't talk about this' kind of way. It needs to be a conversation that everybody's having …,” said Carroll.
Working closely with people and organizations like LincolnHealth, Boothbay Harbor Police Chief Bob Hasch and Boothbay Region Community Resource Council’s Addiction Outreach Specialist Holly Stover, Amistad got the center up and running. It is often unclear where a person should turn to get the help they need, said Sterrs. Carroll said people coming out of jail or prison often need this type of support and that is the reason she has been volunteering to help run substance abuse meetings at Two Bridges Regional Jail.
“People coming out of jail are welcome to come here, we're hopeful they'll come here and it will help them to make connections to find the recovery that they need (whether) they need to connect to AA or NA or some of the other groups that are offered, we can help them do that.”
Part of the equation for Amistad’s future in the Boothbay region will be getting a feel for what the community needs. So the center will host monthly meetings for the community to get involved.
“Folks can come in so we can understand what the community needs from us, what types of programs we could implement around here,” said Sterrs. “This is basically for anybody who wants to come in … Working with the community and understanding the community and its concerns and needs is going to play an intricate part going forward.”
Sometimes the needs are simple. The center has a kitchen, bathroom and a comfortable place to sit down and take a load off, Sterrs said.
“We have some people walk through these doors who just want to talk. They can just come in and watch some TV, play some ping-pong, hang out, play some board games. You know, we just want this to be a really safe, cool environment for people.”
The center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and has a weekly wellness group which meets every Tuesday from 3 to 4 p.m. All announcements will be on the Boothbay Region Peer Center Facebook page.
Sterrs said there will be an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19. At 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, the center will host its first monthly community meeting.
Said Sterrs, “We encourage anyone to come in and just kind of check out what we're doing, meet the staff and ask any questions they might have.”