MANCHESTER, NH – This is progress, for those in the trenches of addiction recovery services in Manchester.
Over the weekend Holly Cekala and Melissa Fortin Crews of Hope for NH Recovery, and recovery advocate Kriss Blevens, rolled up their sleeves, along with a small legion of volunteers, and moved their stuff from Market Street to the new digs at 140 Central St. The former Manchester Homeless Services Center will be a temporary home to Hope for NH Recovery, until the newly purchased Hoitt’s Furniture on Valley Street is renovated and ready to become a community recovery center, with room to grow.
In the meantime, they will continue to welcome anyone through the door who is seeking help, guidance, counsel, compassion, whether an addict or a family member of an addict.
There is a sense of urgency about it all, says Blevens, who has officially jumped into the mix to add a new dimension to Hope for NH’s array of services.
She calls it Amber’s Place.
It will be a stabilization center, or more to the point, a bridge from addiction to recovery, 16 transitional cots for those caught in a holding pattern, the limbo that currently exists for those who are waiting for a clear pathway back to life.
It’s still a work in progress. Blevens, Crews and Cekala are triaging the details, working on partnerships that are still solidifying, but those who come will just need medical clearance to get through the doors.
It came to her in a dream.
“Four weeks ago I had a vision of what appeared to be an emergency detox, with a sign that said ‘Amber’s Place,” says Blevens.
Amber, her stepdaughter, died of a heroin overdose at the age of 22 on April 23, 2014. Since then Blevens has carried the weight of Amber’s unresolved burden, and has used it as momentum – thrusting herself into the city’s push for more treatment and services for those who, like Amber, couldn’t find the escape hatch.
“People are dying. Services are not expanding fast enough. This will be the bridge – and it’s very much what Amber did; she was out there helping those who couldn’t help themselves,” says Blevens. “Even though she couldn’t help herself, she put herself in immense danger to help others. That’s the theme of addiction.”
In theory, when someone is at the point of choosing recovery, say they’ve overdosed and found themselves saved by Narcan and in a hospital emergency room, they will be met there by a recovery coach, who makes them an offer they shouldn’t refuse.
If they are ready for recovery, they can come to Amber’s Place until the next step in their journey is established, whether it’s a detox center, in-patient recovery or outpatient services.
As Cekala often says, there are many paths to recovery, and Hope for NH Recovery supports them all. The crux of their mission is in providing the support.
At this moment, the money is still not there – New Hampshire lags behind most every state, with the exception of Texas, in treatment options. But every day they are networking to find the support needed to continue their work.
“This is action,” says Blevens. “We moved in here yesterday, and today we’re standing here.”
“We have manpower, we have passion, we have compassion, but we need resources. We need money, so we need community support in that way. So I was named chair of the fundraising committee,” said Blevens.
“We’ll do it together,” says Crews.
“Yeah, we will; we do everything together,” says Blevens.
They have not let lack of dedicated resources stop them from operating on a wing and a prayer, says Crews. The plan is to open the doors of Amber’s Place Dec. 1.
“The cry of my heart, on my knees, was that a solution could be revealed that people could understand and relate to and support,” says Blevens. “I believe that this is an answer to that prayer. The dream was an answer to the prayer, and the dream became a vision and now the vision is becoming a reality, so I trust that because it came through that channel that all of the pieces necessary for sustainability, growth and successes are going to happen because the bottom line is that the Universe wants to clean up this problem.”