One of New York’s newest Recovery Community & Outreach Centers (RCOCs) is the Peer Alliance Recovery Center (PARC) located in Jamaica, Queens. Since first opening its doors in April of this year, the Center (a program of Samaritan Daytop Village) has been offering free workshops and group sessions, social and recreational activities, vocational assistance and peer-to-peer support from on-staff Recovery Coaches to members of the community who are either in or seeking recovery from addiction to alcohol or other drugs; as well as their family members. PARC also offers information and education about treatment and assists with navigating insurance and treatment concerns.
According to PARC’s Director of Recovery Services, Laurie Lieberman,* “PARC fosters a welcoming, supportive space where people in recovery can enjoy activities and receive guidance for a lifetime of wellness. This alcohol- and drug-free nonclinical setting center is a haven where recovery is embraced without shame or stigma. Our staff and volunteers work together to ensure that all individuals and family members in (or seeking) recovery, are treated with dignity and respect.”
Getting the Word Out to the Community
When not working in the Center, PARC staff and volunteers have been busy conducting outreach to let the community know about this important new resource available to anyone who wants or needs its programs and services. They’re attending community meetings, visiting police precincts, hosting tables at local fairs, and even stopping into local shops to inform the proprietors. This outreach, combined with good old-fashioned ‘word of mouth,’ is proving to be effective as the center has seen an uptick in participation; and many of the participants are returning on a regular basis.
Programs & Services
That’s not surprising when you consider what PARC offers. Members can learn computer skills, take advantage of educational seminars, participate in recreational activities and so much more. Members can also connect with peer advocates and Recovery Coaches for referrals, support and encouragement. The Center embraces all pathways to recovery and hosts mutual aid groups, as well as Samaritan Daytop Village’s weekly and monthly Recovery Club meetings and activities. (See the July schedule here.)
Another of PARC’s critically important offerings is the availability of Recovery Coach Services on Demand. In other words, any member of the community can walk into the Center during its regular hours of operation and receive help and support from one of the Recovery Coaches on staff. Apparently, community members are surprised to learn that this help is available free of charge (no need for insurance or copays, etc.) to anyone who wants it. Laurie and her staff are pleased to assure them that it is indeed the case.
Because PARC is committed to meeting the community’s needs, its programs and services will continually evolve based on community interest and engagement. As an example, Laurie tells us that when they first began offering a wellness class on Saturday’s attendance wasn’t encouraging, but as word about the class got out to the community, folks began showing up. Today, there are at least ten participants in the class every week.
New programs are being planned as well. Beginning in August, PARC will begin offering a monthly Narcan training open to all members of the community. Whether the training continues to be offered monthly or bi-monthly will depend on interest and attendance. September will see the introduction of another new program, “Recovery through Entrepreneurship,” which will provide members with information on establishing their own businesses.
Individuals who attend PARC’s programs learn how to remove the common roadblocks to recovery and avoid potential relapse. Activities are designed to help members:
- Build critical life skills
- Expand social networks
- Learn health and wellness education
- Expand job search techniques
- Train to become a Recovery Coach
- Learn how to become a community volunteer
The Center’s programs and services are informed by its Advisory Board members – more than half of whom are peers. Encouraging peers to provide input about the programs and activities they themselves want to see is critically important as it provides a very real (and valuable) sense of participation and ownership. In fact, when a new member registers at the center, they’re given both a schedule of activities for the month, as well as an application to join the Advisory Board.
When asked about what she sees as the primary need of participants transitioning from treatment, Laurie responded without hesitation, “Safe and sober housing.” Safe and sober housing is critically important to those in early recovery, but extremely difficult to find in New York City and its boroughs. When program participants indicate that they need help to find housing, Laurie lets them know that it’s certainly not going to be easy to find and that while the individual will need to do a lot of the leg work on their own, the Center will offer guidance and try to connect them with providers. As such, the Center is working to develop a network of housing providers to connect with their members.
Congratulations to Samaritan Daytop Village, to Laurie and to the staff and volunteers at PARC on the great progress your seeing in just these first few months. Clearly, you’re providing an invaluable service to the community and in doing so will undoubtedly raise awareness about recovery, inspire wellness, and save lives.
For a comprehensive list of programs and services currently offered at PARC, as well as contact information and hours of operation, visit the Center’s page on our website, here.
*Ms. Lieberman also serves as Secretary of the FOR-NY Board of Directors