In October, OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez announced the grand opening of Voices, a new Recovery Community Outreach Center located in Binghamton (Broome County). OASAS gave the center, operated by Fairview Recovery Services, a $1.75 million grant over five years. The center provides free support and services for people who are in recovery from a substance use disorder and for their families. One of the center’s goals is to reduce isolation and provide a forum for positive social interactions by helping people connect with peers who are going through similar challenges. FOR-FY spoke with the folks at Voices and its parent organization, Fairview Recovery Services to learn more about this important new community resource.
The Voices Recovery Community Outreach Center is located in a former convent. The beautiful building has freshly painted walls and restored hardwood floors. The interior spaces are bright, airy, and welcoming. Visitors are greeted in the reception area where a staff member is available to answer questions and guide people toward programs and services of interest. This includes helping people get into treatment or detox, navigate insurance issues, etc. All services are offered free of charge and are developed with the input of the people who use the center.
The reception area is also where one can help themselves to a cup of tea or coffee and pick up pamphlets and information sheets about local treatment services and recovery meetings, as well as resources in the community where people can access food, clothing and showers. This is also where you’ll find the Center’s calendar of upcoming events and program schedule. Adjacent to reception are several conference rooms, a computer room, a yoga and meditation space and a chapel. Members can also take advantage of the Center’s lower level recreation area to watch television, play pool, ping pong or Xbox, or just relax. The lower level is also where a variety of self-help meetings are held each week.
Programs currently available include skill-building and employment-readiness programs, in addition to wellness and recreational activities, including yoga, music and art classes.
According to Voices’ Program Director, Gary Hartford, the Center already has about 56 members. While they haven’t had many folks walk in quite yet, they are receiving more calls from the community inquiring about the center and its programs. In fact, members of the local recovery community are already calling to ask about holding events at the center. One group recently held a sober anniversary celebration at the Center and the local LGBT community will be holding a dance there on December 1st.
As we’ve seen with other new RCOC’s some programs are better attended than others and the schedule will evolve as the staff gets a better sense of what the community wants and needs. At this point, attendance seems to be driven by time of day. People are coming in when they’re available and right now most are coming in after 4:00 pm.
As of early November, the Voices staff consists of Gary, two Recovery Coaches and a part-time clerical assistant. A Peer Advocate will be joining the team within the next few weeks at which time the center will expand its hours. Currently open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:00 pm and Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday and Wednesday hours will be extended to 8:00 pm and Saturday hours will be added as well.
According to Fairway Recovery Services Executive Director, Michele Napolitano, “Voices is situated in a working class neighborhood of Binghamton and centrally located near Endicott, Johnson City. Not unlike other counties across the state, Broome County has been hit hard by the current opioid epidemic. Heroin and opioids are destroying individuals’ lives, families and entire communities and they need help. So, there hasn’t been any not in my backyard sort of pushback from the community; rather we’ve been welcomed. In fact, a few neighbors came to the Grand Opening and stayed for a while.”
Voices will host a Thanksgiving Dinner on Tuesday evening, 11/21 and as testament to community support, the local Ruby Tuesday’s donated much of the food they will be serving!
Voices Recovery Community Outreach Center is located at 340 Prospect Street, Binghamton, New York 13904. For additional information, contact Gary Hartford at [email protected] or (607) 821-7811 ext. 104.