Ware, Mass.—The Gándara Center’s new Cornerstone residential recovery program, designed to assist women ages 18 to 25 with overcoming substance abuse issues, is slated to open in the former home of the St. Mary’s convent next month.
This 15-bed, highly structured voluntary program will be open to women who already have completed a detox program and are ready to take the next step in their recovery process. Offering a wide range of tools to help individuals be successful, the program will offer 24-hour supervision and on-site classes and groups facilitated by counselors and recovery specialists every day.
“There was a need to build the bridge between detox and going back to the community where these individuals live in order to increase their chances of successful sober living,” said Cornerstone Program Director Heather Murphy, LICSW. “So many times we see individuals come out of detox and are sent right back into the same situations they came from with no coping skills; no tool box to help them be successful. That’s exactly what this program aims to do–give them a chance to move forward and lead a healthy, productive life.”
Murphy said the goal for a program like Cornerstone is to help decrease the number of overdoses and create stable environments for those coming out of detox.
“By producing these types of services, we hope that when the clients leave our program, they have all the skills necessary for them to remain in recovery,” said Murphy.
Cornerstone participants will have access to General Education Development (GED) prep classes; learn budgeting; basic math; writing; life skills; health and nutrition; learn interviewing and independent living skills; problem-solving; participate in non-denominational bible study; as well as yoga and art therapy programs.
Last year, the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services reported 150 referrals from Ware alone; noting a significant need in the community for substantial treatment programs. When the Massachusetts Department of Public Health approached the Gándara Center to fulfill the need for a program like Cornerstone, the former St. Mary’s convent fit the needs of the program perfectly.
“The building really suits this type of program since it was set-up as the convent for the church and was already a residential setting,” said Murphy. “The building was designed with second-floor bedrooms and first-floor shared living space; so residents will sleep on the second floor and participate in group activities, meals, and family visits on the first floor. It’s a really nice set-up to allow all these things to happen.”
Participation in the program is completely voluntary and clients are expected to stay between 3-to-6 months to complete the program.
Sara (whose last name has been withheld to protect the client’s privacy), was a participant in another Gándara program, Esperanza Women’s Transitional Support Services (TSS)—a short-term residential recovery support program similar to Cornerstone. Sara struggled with addiction for nearly 20 years. After going through the detox process and attempting to maintain recovery on her own, she felt her best chance at success was to seek additional support. Recovery coaches, people with lived experience who build a partnership with individuals in recovery, act as allies and mentors and help program participants to develop a recovery plan and work through their goals—something Sara found as a key to helping with her recovery.
“If I can’t get ahold of anyone else in the world, I can get ahold of her,” said Sara of her recovery coach. “She knows what I’m going through. She knows what it’s like, not because she read it in a textbook. She knows what it’s like to be me. There’s no judgement.”
Sara has now successfully completed the TSS program and is participating in Gándara’s Residential Services for Women program, helping her to continue her journey toward independent living.
Cornerstone’s host agency, The Gándara Center, based in West Springfield, has been providing culturally sensitive behavioral health, substance abuse, prevention and educational services to the region since 1977. The agency was founded to advocate and provide for equal services in the Hispanic community. Today, the Gándara Center serves a diverse multicultural clientele in more than 40 locations across Massachusetts and its family-centered and community-based approach reaches more than 13,000 children, families, and adults every year through residential, mental health, substance abuse, and preventative services.
Those interested in learning more about the Cornerstone program are encouraged to contact Heather Murphy at (413) 237-5296.