$400,000 grant will allow Pittsfield peer-run recovery center to hire, provide safe options for members

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PITTSFIELD — For those overcoming addiction, Friday nights can be hard. Even after being clean for years, it can be a challenge for those in recovery to find substance-free ways to fill their free time.

With help from a $400,000 state grant, Living in Recovery, a peer-run recovery center, is working to fill those idle hours with safe social outings and activities.

“People may say, `I have a job, I have an apartment, but I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not at work,’ ” said Jay Sacchetti, senior vice president of ServiceNET, which oversees the center.

Living in Recovery, which operates out of the George B. Crane Memorial Center, launched last fall with funding from donors. Since then, the facility has been run by one full-time staff member, Program Director Joe Buyse, and a group of volunteers.

In May, the Department of Public Health named the center as one of several across the state to receive a portion of the $3.5 million grant. Living in Recovery is using the money to hire an outreach coordinator, volunteer coordinator and peer support coordinator, according to ServiceNET spokeswoman Amy Timmins.

All the employees will be people who have been in recovery for at least two years, she said.

“The unifying criteria is that they have lived experience,” she said of potential hires. “People have lots of different addictions. Any form of addiction is welcome.”

In addition to the salaries of the new hires, the grant also will pay for the purchase of a van to bring groups to outings outside the center on Linden Street and allow the program director to pay stipends to individuals who run meetings.

The center is open Wednesday to Sunday, and it hosts gatherings that include yoga, dance, movie nights, volunteer events and grief groups.

“It’s really driven by the members’ interests,” Timmins said.

“We’ve probably interacted with close to 150 people by this time, Sacchetti said. “This is going to allow us to expand to seven days a week.”

Sacchetti expects that the funding and additional staff will allow programming to grow, because staffers then can cover multiple locations at once. With just Buyse, he had to be at the center most of the time to keep the doors open, they said.

“Living in Recovery is not just at the Crane Center; it’s anywhere that members of the community want it to be,” Timmins said.

“This is a group of people on fire for recovery,” Buyse said in a statement. “The community embraces all pathways of recovery, and is always open to new members.”

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.

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