This is a story of a group of people who saw a need in Kennebec County and are rising to the challenge to create their own solution. The local chapter of Young People In Recovery (YPR) have long felt a need for a community recovery center within the county. In Maine, not every county has a recovery community center and Kennebec County, despite being the seat of our state’s capitol, is one of those counties. The need is great, not just in Augusta, but also in the rural areas throughout Kennebec County.
According to the Maine Drug Data Hub, found at mainedrugdata.org, Kennebec County has already had 41 drug overdose deaths between January through July of 2021. To put that into perspective, that number is nearly the total for the entire year of 2019 and we are only half way through the year.
The passage of LD488 “to expand recovery community organizations throughout Maine” spurred the local YPR into action because they understand in order to qualify for future funding they must create a center first. A recovery community center serves as a gathering place for many pathways to recovery and run by independent, nonprofit organizations. Contrary to what some may think, it is not a treatment or residential center. What visitors will receive is peer support from people who understand substance use disorder and a sense of belonging without judgment. Some of the established recovery community centers in Maine such as the Portland Recovery Community Center (PRCC) and Bangor Area Recovery Network (BARN) offer recovery coaches, yoga classes and educational workshops.
As this story unfolds, it’s also a story of organizations combining their efforts toward a common goal. Courtney Allen, a member of YPR, found a potential rental space for the proposed recovery community center. Allen reached out to partner with related area organizations: Maine Prisoner Reentry Network (MPRN), Maine Recovery Advocacy Project (ME-RAP) and Fresh Out Sober Living. These organizations are working together to launch the center under the name Augusta Recovery Re-entry Center (ARRC) to serve all of Kennebec County. The collaboration of these organizations provides the knowledge and structure necessary to run a recovery center.
The remaining immediate need is to generate funding to cover a full year’s rent and programing costs. To accomplish this goal, the local YPR members will be out in their bright yellow shirts every Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., throughout September. They will be at the following locations on these dates:
Sept. 4, Gardiner Bridge; Sept. 11, Augusta Target; Sept. 18, Augusta Walmart; Sept. 25, Gardiner Bridge.
Several YPR members were out fundraising in front of the Augusta Walmart on Saturday, August 28. Natasha told us why this project was meaningful to her, “I’m supportive of him (she pointed to her significant other Jacob Foster who is the fundraising lead) I watched him go through it and he has come a long way. I’m very proud of him.”
John Clark explained the urgency for the center, “We are fundraising for a recovery center so people in recovery and also people in active addiction can get help and be around like minded people. We’re trying to get a hold of all the resources all in one facility. When word of mouth gets around, I think we’ll be able to save lives. You have all these people O.D.-ing. It’s just terrible. It’s every week now.”
Bobby Payzant (his friends call him Paco) told us why he was out fundraising, “I’m a person who has been affected by addiction. Not just me, I’ve lost a family member due to addiction. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
For more information about how to donate, please contact Jacob Foster, YPR fundraising lead, at 207-242-2862. Donate bottles for recycling at Damon’s on Bangor Street in Augusta and label each bag clearly with the number 73.
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