Northern Berkshire celebrates new support in addiction fight

Beacon Recovery Community Center opens in North Adams

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NORTH ADAMS — In 2018, more than 2,000 Massachusetts residents died from the disease of heroin addiction, according to the state's Department of Health.

It was in the light of those deaths, and the many that preceded them, that on Tuesday night in North Adams a determined pack of community volunteers and organizers officially opened the Beacon Recovery Community Center — a locally honed effort to save lives of family, friends and neighbors.

The recovery center was implemented by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and its volunteer corps to offer community and support for those struggling to overcome their disease. As the mission statement puts it, they are working to provide a "safe and welcoming community of people in recovery, their families, and friends. Together we nurture and support people in all stages and on all paths of recovery through peer-led, holistic approaches by sharing our life experiences, skills, and social connections."

With a gathering of nearly 100 community members, officials and volunteers offered gratitude and congratulations for the establishment of the recovery center — the only one in the Northern Berkshire region.

"It was a matter of the right people coming together at the right time for the right reasons," said volunteer David Risch. "And the best part is it only took a year."

"I wanted to share my congratulations and admiration for the work that has been done in such an incredibly short time," added North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard. "And I'm sure the work that you do here will strengthen and deepen this community."

State Sen. Adam Hinds, a former director of the NBCC, was also there to offer his admiration.

"This is a perfect example of why the coalition exists — and why we need a community coalition," he said. "To identify the need, see the crisis, come up with a way to address it and being meticulous in planning and taking it from A to B."

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He presented the organizers with a citation from the Massachusetts Senate, which congratulated them for their efforts to address a spiraling health care need.

After his presentation, Hinds told The Eagle that every year, the Senate hears about the problem and its ripple effects. He said the Senate is well aware of the need and always on the lookout for solutions.

"So for the community to stand up and offer a solution is an important part of the puzzle," he said. "This gives hope to the Northern Berkshire region that this is happening."

Former North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, who has faced addiction issues in his own family, said having a recovery center in town is an enormous opportunity for local folks who are ready to start recovery, or those returning from a residential recovery center who need a safe place to continue their efforts.

"Often, when someone returns home from treatment and there is not easy access to recovery support, the whole effort just falls apart," he said. "So it is much more hopeful for someone seeking recovery to have this here."

The Beacon Recovery Community Center meets every Wednesday morning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers activities, a group discussion and snacks for anyone who wants to come by. Attendees can stay for the whole session, or come and go as they please. They can talk during the group meeting, or just listen.

The center opened quietly in March at 85 Main Street and has been meeting weekly with a slowly growing group ever since.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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