Peer recovery centers are crucial to the recovery community, serving as safe meeting places where people in all walks of recovery can both give and receive support. At these free centers, individuals participate in recovery meetings, find parenting and employment resources, learn helpful skills like anger management and financial planning, attend yoga and mindfulness classes, and much more. Most importantly, though, they find and build a sense of community, instilling in each other the belief that no one needs to traverse the path of recovery alone.
Providing Recovery Resources Across the State
Today, there are 40 peer recovery centers across the state of Massachusetts. Five of these locations are hosted by Spectrum Health Systems, offering support and resources for hundreds of residents every day. “Many of them are built in storefronts. They’re upfront and visible, aimed at reducing stigma,” said Athena Haddon, Spectrum’s Executive Director of Peer Services and Recovery Support.
Haddon explained that each location is run through a participatory process model, meaning the hours of operation and events of each location are decided by the community that uses the space. Every week, community meetings are held to discuss what kind of groups, classes, workshops, and social events could be offered to better meet the needs of community members.
Some of the groups held at the centers are 12-step meetings. Other groups offer support outside the 12-step system. “There are many pathways to recovery,” Haddon said. “We want everyone to feel welcome, no matter what path works for them.” Haddon, who is in recovery herself, has seen firsthand how these centers have changed lives.
Seeing Lives Change with the Help of Peer Support
One local resident whose life has been profoundly affected by the peer recovery program is Michael Earielo. As a young man, Earielo became affiliated with gangs and developed a serious heroin addiction. He served numerous stints in prison before finding a positive community at the Worcester Everyday Miracles peer recovery center.
Initially, Earielo’s time at Everyday Miracles was spent playing cards. But as weeks went by, and he spent more and more time there, he began to participate in other community-based ventures as well, even helping start a committee to provide meals to the local unhoused population during Thanksgiving. A year after he first began visiting Everyday Miracles, Earielo became a staff member. Today, he serves as the center’s program director.
Kirsten Puccio is another inspiring member-turned-employee. She began visiting Everyday Miracles for support years ago before eventually starting a non-profit called M.I.R.A.C.L.E MAMAS with cofounder Keri McCallum. The organization advocates for mothers navigating recovery and hosts a support group for mothers at the Everyday Miracles location on Wednesday mornings at 10am.
Where Community Recovery Starts
While stories like Michael’s and Kirsten’s may seem unique, every day there are people like them making strides in their recovery with the help of peer recovery centers. By providing practical recovery resources and establishing a sense of community, these centers help people find second chances.
In addition to its Worcester location, Spectrum also maintains peer recovery centers in Lawrence, Lynn, Marlborough, and a soon-to-be-opened location in Southbridge. For a full directory of Massachusetts peer recovery centers, click here.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or a substance use disorder, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab.