National group works to unite recovery community in Springfield


A national organization will work with Springfield leaders over the next few months to mobilize the recovery community.

Staff members from Faces and Voices of Recovery, the nation’s leading grassroots recovery advocacy group, spoke to the Families of Addicts organization in Springfield this week about ways it can unite the community.

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Dayton and Springfield were one of four sites chosen nationally — including Orange County, Calif.; Spring Lake Park, Minn.; and Brigantine, N.J. — by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Faces and Voices of Recovery to participate in their Building Strength and Membership program, said Jesse Heffernan, the organization’s national outreach and empowerment coordinator.

The organization met with stakeholders and recovery advocates this week to work on building the recovery community in Springfield over the next six months to a year, he said.

“We’re here to listen, to find out the gaps and find areas where we can provide some training,” Heffernan said. “We’re in this for the long haul. We really want to see this thing through.”

Faces and Voices also chose four Recovery Community Organizations from Minneapolis, Minn.; Manchester, N.H.; Philadelphia; and Greenville, S.C., to assist the four other communities. Recovery Community Organizations are nonprofits led by people in recovery that offer advocacy activities, community education, outreach programs and peer-based recovery support services, according to their website.

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“Mentorship helps,” Heffernan said. “It’s not necessarily telling you what to do, but it’s essentially, ‘We’re a little further up the road, we can give you some suggestions, ideas and potholes not to fall in as you build your community up.’”

Springfield FOA members spoke out about a lack of education about addiction in the community. They also spoke about the stigma of doing things outside of traditional groups.

The community needs more organizations like Families of Addicts that can help people in recovery after they finish treatment, said Springfield resident Tim Derr, who recently cycled across the country to raise awareness about substance abuse.

“People are more aware of what’s going on so it’s a perfect opportunity for change,” he said. “People are fed up. … Since I’ve been back, people are really open to wanting to make a difference.”

Treatment is an event, Heffernan said, while recovery is a lifelong process that’s different for everyone.

“The idea that treatment is recovery is part of what we’re here to change,” he said. “Treatment can be a pathway to recovery, an introduction to that system.”

RELATED: Springfield man cycles 3,300 miles across America to promote recovery

Communities don’t have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to helping people here in long-term recovery, said Fred Martin, a former project manager with the PRO-ACT Recovery Training Center in Philadelphia. The organization has six centers that helps put a face on the recovery community, he said. They’ve borrowed models from other communities and implemented them in Philadelphia, he said.

“You’re doing fantastic things here and people are doing fantastic things across the country,” Martin said. “What we all have to is take a look at what they’re doing and tweak it to our liking.”

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