A community center for people impacted by addiction that was established in Boothbay Harbor five years ago and attempted a move to Wiscasset this summer is now finding a home in Newcastle.
The Lincoln County Recovery Community Center operated by Commonspace, formerly known as Amistad, made the move to be more centrally located and is working to develop programs for local needs in its new location.
“Our hope is to be a space that offers something for truly everyone that’s been touched by addiction,” program coordinator Abigail Boudin said. “Folks who are struggling with addiction and people who love folks who are struggling with addiction, people who’ve been left behind by people who struggled with addiction … I think the hope is really that it can be a place for everyone, including young people and family members.”
Boudin said the center is making sure to offer services that either don’t exist in the county or could be expanded.
Brian Townsend, Commonspace’s executive director, added that the center hopes to refer and receive referrals from other local providers including the Addiction Resource Center in Damariscotta and the Boothbay Region Community Resource Council.
The nonprofit also plans to find satellite locations in the county to offer groups and recovery coaching at some point in the future.
Commonspace, based in Portland, was contracted by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to provide a peer recovery center in Lincoln County with its Boothbay Harbor location in 2018. It operates another recovery community center in Bath and has run recovery centers, harm reduction, and housing services in Portland over the last several decades.
Like its predecessor, the Newcastle center is limited to personal support and will not be licensed at a level to offer treatment, needle exchanges, or housing, according to Townsend.
Currently, the center offers a grief support group on the first Wednesday evening of every month and plans to start a “Bread and Jam” event soon to share food and live music. Staff also travels to Wiscasset on Thursdays, doing deliveries for the food pantry, making home visits to clients, and providing rides to appointments.
During the center’s regular hours, visitors can get connected to outside resources both for recovery needs and day-to-day financial support and meet with in-house peer recovery coaches.
Art and music will likely be a focus of future programming, as employees said those are shared interests of many members. A book group with local partner Healthy Lincoln County is also in the works for next year, according to Boudin.
“We’re really hoping to have input from the community,” she said.
Public involvement was a theme of an open house held Thursday, Nov. 2, which filled the space.
“This feels very special and we feel really lucky to be here,” Townsend said to the room, stating that central idea of the center is “literally this.”
According to Townsend, the recovery center is shaped by the people it serves, and the path of the Newcastle location will be determined by those involved.
“It can be whatever this community needs it to be,” he said.
Peter Bruun, a Damariscotta artist who helped organize the 716 Candles Project this summer to remember those lost to overdose and start conversations around opioid addiction, said the center feels like an extension of that momentum.
“This has come together incredibly quickly and beautifully,” he said.
He believes that project, in partnership with Healthy Lincoln County, brought together people who had been separately involved in the recovery community whom the center can provide a hub for.
Gordon Smith, director of opioid response for the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and state Rep. Lydia Crafts, D-Newcastle, also attended the open house.
Smith, who took his post in 2019, has seen 21 recovery centers open or get underway across the state in the past four years.
“We love these recovery centers,” he said. “… This is not easy to do.”
He urged the group to let the center evolve naturally and to include fun community events alongside serious support.
Smith said he believes progress is being made on reducing stigma around recovery discussions, but continuing awareness of the people who die from overdoses is important.
“You won’t be doing 716 candles next year,” he said, though “You’ll still be doing too many.”
Boudin and recovery coach Brock Couillard, who both grew up in Lincoln County, said the center is also designed to be a place to hang out, offering food, Wi-Fi, and television.
“Wherever they are on their path to recovery, whether they’re still actively using, thinking about stopping, they want to stop, or they have stopped, we can definitely be supportive and basically huge cheerleaders, wherever people are,” Boudin said.
Boudin and Couillard both said they focus on judgment-free services.
“I feel so incredibly lucky that I had really, really supportive family members who stuck with me for more than 20 years,” Boudin said. “So many of our peers don’t have that; they struggled and burned bridges and feel like they have absolutely no one, and that is really a lonely place to be. It’s fabulous to be able to stand here and say, ‘Get in here! We want you!’”
For more information, call the center at 563-6374 or visit 3 Hall St. between noon and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To inquire about volunteering or suggest a program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Increased hours and a social media presence are expected to be added soon.