Forward House has opened a new centre in Parksville to help people dealing with addiction and substance use.
The organization celebrated the Forward Recovery Centre’s grand opening at at 129 Alberni Hwy on June 2. The addiction recovery program began about 18 months ago, operating out of the main centre on Hirst Avenue and has already served more than 100 clients, according to executive director Sharon Welch.
“Our program has grown exponentially and we’ve needed some new space,” said Sareh Tracey, program director of recovery services. “So we’ve opened this recovery centre. It’s a resource for people to access services, whether they need to be connected with a substance use doctor, basically any recovery services that are available.”
People will be able to access free services such as support groups, recovery coaching, a library, wellness groups, meditation and a speaker series.
The new building will be focused on substance use and addiction, while the Hirst Avenue house will remain the main mental health services centre, according to Welch.
Sarah Allen said she was a client at the Hirst Avenue house when she learned about the addiction recovery program, which was at the time a pilot project by Tracey.
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She was encouraged to move through the 12-Step Program and began to attend a weekly meeting where the group discussed mindfulness, did meditation and talked about their ups and downs over the past week. At the end of the meeting participants set intentions for what they want to do in the coming week, so the group can keep itself accountable.
“We talk about recovery,” Allen said. “People are allowed to still be using, you just can’t show up to the group loaded. They meet people where they’re at in their recovery.”
Allen, who has years of experience with meditation, said she hopes to do volunteer work teaching or running a step group. She said it has been difficult to meet people since moving to the Island from Vancouver, but has found some community with Forward House.
Tracey said Forward House fills in the gaps in the system.
“What we know about addiction is it’s a disease of isolation and so if we can create connection in our community, people get well,” she said.
All of the recovery centre’s programs are day programs. The Hirst house is drop-in focused, while Forward Recovery Centre is primarily appointment-based, including support groups.
The centre received one-time startup funding from Island Health, as well as funding from the Parksville Rotary Club and an anonymous patron, according to Welch. It has also benefited from community donations and grant funding.
Forward Recovery Centre is doing a founding donor fundraiser, where anyone who contributes, specifically for the recovery centre, until Sept. 30, will become a founding donor. Donations of over $500 will be placed on a recognition list and contributions over $1,000 will get a plaque on the wall.
The centre is currently open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but Welch said they hope to expand to six days a week someday, with enough funding.