Date: June 20, 2023
By Emily Pauls
LYNN — Spectrum Health Systems has opened a peer-recovery support center on Exchange Street called the Recovery Exchange.
“This is peer support. It’s one person in recovery helping another person in recovery. Everybody that works here is in recovery,” Spectrum Health Systems Executive Director of Peer Services and Recovery Supports Athena Haddon said. “These centers are as valuable to communities as seniors’ centers or youth centers.”
At the center, members of the recovery community can build their own individual and community support to “help prevent relapse” and “promote long term recovery,” Recovery Exchange Program Director Kim Patterson said.
“It’s a place where they come, they have a say on what kind of activities and what kinds of things they want here, and it’s the place where they can come and feel safe and learn to be a part of a community,” Patterson said.
The members of the center will decide what its day-to-day operations will be, Haddon said.
“Staff is here to empower how [members] want to see this center roll out,” Haddon said. “We’re really letting the community, the Lynn recovery community, dictate what this center is going to look like.”
This has been a long time coming for the city, Recovery Exchange volunteer Michelle Simons said.
“Lynn obviously does have a large substance-abuse issue and we have a lot of clinical-type treatment here, but we have never had this recovery center,” Simons said.
Lynn also has a huge recovery community, she added.
“Having one common place where we can all gather to celebrate recovery and put attention on recovery, it becomes attractive to people and it grows,” Simons said.
Simons said she hopes the center reduces the stigma surrounding recovery.
“The storefront puts a positive face on recovery,” Simons said. “We’re good neighbors, we’re gonna clean up the sidewalk and put some flowers and do things to enhance the neighborhood, which again, change people’s perception of what recovery is.”
Haddon said that she wants people in the city to know that it is a center for those in recovery, not active addiction.
“If people are in active addiction and they seek or want to seek help, they can come here, but we’re going to try to refer them to detox,” Haddon said. “We’re going to encourage them to go get recovery and come back and be part of the recovery center.”
The Recovery Exchange had a soft opening on Tuesday, when the space was filled to the brim with supporters of the center, from local leaders to members of the Recovery Exchange.
School Committee member Lennin Pen͂a attended the soft opening and reflected on his own recovery journey, which started many years ago.
“It taught me how to become a responsible man, how to become a man of integrity and get involved with your community,” Pen͂a said. “We all know how much this means to the community, it’s very important that we all have a voice here too.”
The grand opening will be on July 20 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.