Powerful recovery stories were told at the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR) Western Massachusetts Policy Forum, which was hosted by the Hope for Holyoke recovery support center on May 24.

Hope for Holyoke, one of Gándara’s peer-to-peer recovery centers, provides such services as relapse prevention and tobacco cessation support groups, social events, access to computers for job readiness/job search activities, and advocacy and recovery coaching.

Several people shared testimonials about how recovery support centers helped change their lives. Maritza, a member of Hope for Holyoke, thanked “those who saw me when I felt invisible.” Another member, Marcos, called Hope for Holyoke his second home. “I learned how to read here,” he said. He also related a story about his bicycle being stolen and how the center’s peers bought him a new one.

Speakers included Henry East-Trou, executive director for the Gándara Center (pictured top left), who described the culturally sensitive Gándara programming to support prevention, treatment, and recovery. State Representative Aaron Vega (pictured top right) said that centers like Hope for Holyoke are doing their part in fighting the addiction crisis. “A common thread found in all the stories we heard today is that these people have found a new family and were given a second chance,” said Rep. Vega. Jared Owen, communications coordinator at MOAR, praised the new criminal justice reform law, which diverts more people into treatment and programming and reduces the time after which someone can seal a conviction from 10 to seven years for a felony and five to three years for a misdemeanor.

Pictured below in Hope for Holyoke t-shirts are members of this recovery support center, which runs the region’s only Spanish-language narcotics anonymous support group.

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