Addicts given hope for recovery in Newport
By Natasha Osborne
Argus Champion correspondent
Recovery coaches Taysa Bruno (sitting) and Chris Cotham at work in the office at the Newport Recovery Community Center. — NATASHA OSBORNERecovery coaches Taysa Bruno (sitting) and Chris Cotham at work in the office at the Newport Recovery Community Center. — NATASHA OSBORNENEWPORT — The Hope for New Hampshire Recovery Center at 65 Park St. in Newport opened its doors on March 9 to provide a meeting place where those suffering from multiple addictions can come together for support.
The center offers a refuge for those struggling with mainly substance abuse issues, but also welcomes those dealing with other types of addictions.
“This is a non-judgmental and non-discriminating environment where people can relate on a peer to peer basis,” said Taysa Bruno, one of the center’s organizers.
An excerpt for the mission statement reads: “We are working to ensure that those suffering from addiction will receive respectful, nondiscriminatory care on the same basis as people with other health conditions.”
The recovery coaches work under certified Licensed Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselors (LADAC). The center also networks with area agencies such as Southwestern Community Services and Headrest and can help connect those in need with resources.
Bruno and Chris Cotham, in collaboration with the Rev. Alice Roberts, Rector of the Episcopal Church on Cedar Street in Newport, organized and established the center.
Their respective personal journeys and a desire to help others inspired the creation of the center.
Bruno, a certified recovery coach, had been attending Common Church at the Episcopal Church (known as the “stone” church), which led to the connection with Roberts.
Roberts was aware that Bruno had been working toward becoming a certified recovery coach and was seriously considering the idea of opening a place where people who suffered from addictions could go for support.
“Going into the training as a recovery coach, I did not have the idea of opening a recovery center,” said Bruno. “I just wanted to get training to help others and become more educated.
“The inspiration came as I went through the class,” she added.
Liz Hennig, Continuum of Care for the Greater Sullivan County Regional Public Health Network, had arranged through a grant for representation from the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery to come to New Hampshire to train people as recovery coaches for potential recovery centers in the area.
Holly Cekala, director of Recovery Support Services for Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, had made a presentation in Newport that Bruno had attended. She pitched the idea of opening a center with her and shortly thereafter, a plan was set in motion with funding through Hope for New Hampshire Recovery.
Last November, Roberts was personally affected by the devastating consequences of addiction when she lost her daughter Susan to a heroin overdose.
“I wish my daughter could have gotten sobriety,” she said.
There was a vacancy in the white house next to the church, which the church owns and Roberts offered that space for the center.
“I saw an immediate need in the community to open a recovery center and a safe place for people to go,” Bruno said.
Cotham, who is a certified peer recovery specialist and in recovery himself, was working at the Anchor Recovery Center in Rhode Island and has brought substantial experience to the center with his extensive work in the prison system conducting group therapy and open talks.
Cekala knew Cotham and recruited him to New Hampshire for the new center.
“I was amazed to see such a problem in a small town,” Cotham said. “It is scary and I see young people going under, but it also can be anyone who might be sitting next to you.”
“We’ve had a really good response and a steady flow since we opened,” he continued. “It is another forum.”
There are those in the community who have been clean and sober for a number of years who attend meetings at the center as a way of enhancing their program of recovery and to support others.
“The first day we opened there were people lined up at the door,” Bruno revealed. “The need is greater than people realize.”
Public information was communicated through Facebook, flyers and was announced on community television in Newport (NCTV).
The center holds meetings Monday through Friday 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 to 7 p.m.
The center can be reached at 552-7253.