With funds from a state grant, the new Boothbay Region Peer Center offers support to people in recovery from addiction and others in the community.
The center opened at 35 School St. in Boothbay Harbor on Nov. 20. It is a branch of Amistad (amistadinc.com), a Portland-based nonprofit.
Program Coordinator Adam Sterrs and his assistant, Emily Carroll, manage the center with help from Dee Parkerson, who keeps the space clean and offers her own support.
The center works with LincolnHealth, Boothbay Region Community Resource Council Addiction Outreach Specialist Holly Stover, and Boothbay Harbor Police Chief Bob Hasch.
“Bob and Holly are both key components to this,” Sterrs said. “If they’re working with a person who’s in need of some help, we work together to help that person.”
Sterrs, Carroll, and Parkerson bring firsthand knowledge to the drop-in center. They have each had their own issues with addiction.
Sterrs and Parkerson met at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset during his last probation check-in and her first. “We were sitting next to each other and we just started talking,” Parkerson said.
Sterrs grew up in Boothbay Harbor, lived in Portland for several years after graduating from Boothbay Region High School, and came back to the area five years ago. When the job at the peer center opened up, he applied for it, knowing the time was right for a new beginning.
Sterrs is thankful for a venue where he can use his experience with alcoholism to help others.
“I’ve been sober for 18 months and during that time I’ve been doing a lot of work personally to make a lifestyle change,” he said. “Going to (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and connecting with people within the fellowship proved to be really huge for me. I needed that support.
“I realized that I had an ability to connect with and build relationships with people,” Sterrs said. He plans to take a course to become a certified intentional peer support specialist.
While the center focuses on addiction and recovery, Sterrs wants to assist anyone in any way he can.
“If someone needs assistance with transportation, housing, or job-hunting, we can help,” he said. “If someone doesn’t have a computer at home, he can come in here and use ours.
“We’re here to help anyone who needs some support and assistance. We want to offer a comfortable, safe place for people to come.”
The state grant requires the center to host a certain number of group events per quarter. These include a wellness group for people in recovery, yoga groups, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, life skills groups, an alternatives to suicide group, and a resume-building group.
Not just for people in the Boothbay region, the center welcomes anyone in need of support or help. “I go to a group in Waldoboro regularly,” Sterrs said. “I let them know what we’re doing and a few from that group have come here.”
Parkerson, from Malden, Mass., had been in recovery for over 30 years when she had a relapse a year and a half ago. She lost everything and came to Boothbay Harbor to regroup and help her mother, who had been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.
She said she has learned that recovery will get harder each time she relapses. “I can tell you from experience it’s absolutely true,” she said. “I came up here broken.”
“Meeting Adam was meant to be,” she said. “I was so excited when he told me about this place. People in recovery need a place to go and feel safe. And I love helping people.”
Sterrs said addiction comes with a stigma and it takes a lot for people with addiction to trust other people.
“You can gain a lot of trust with peers working with peers,” he said. “You can share experiences and some success stories. This is a no judgment zone. We just want people to come here and feel comfortable and regroup.”
The center plans to organize groups for people who are not in recovery, but want to learn about it.
“We’re all on the same level,” Sterrs said. “We all may have taken different roads in getting here, but the end result is the same – to live a happy, healthy, sober life and to believe in yourself.”
“It’s about building trust between people,” he said. “The only thing we can do is continue to educate. People make their own choices, and regardless of what those choices are, we’re here for them.”
The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, though hours are subject to change depending on people’s needs. For more information, find Boothbay Region Peer Center on Facebook.