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New Center for Recovery in Claremont Provides Support, Resources

  • Brooke Lawton, of Claremont, reads a letter she wrote to her younger self during an 18-week workshop for parents in recovery at the newly opened Center for Recovery Resources in Claremont, N.H., August 22, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Amber Caron, of Claremont, talks about the challenges of disciplining her teenage children as her partner of 10 years Will Bennett, right, listens during a weekly workshop for parents in recovery at the newly opened Center for Recovery Resources in Claremont, N.H., August 22, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Heather West, of Claremont wipes away tears while speaking of the difficulties of dealing with the Division for Children, Youth and Families and the stigma of addiction as Parent Educator Liz Morse, left, and Recovery Support Worker Wayne Miller, right, listen during a weekly workshop for parents in recovery at the newly opened Center for Recovery Resources in Claremont, N.H., August 22, 2018. West said that she likes attending the voluntary group meeting because she often feels better when she leaves. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Claremont residents Heather West, left, and Brooke Lawton, right, talk outside the Center for Recovery Resources after their weekly parenting workshop for parents in recovery in Claremont, N.H., Wednesday, August 22, 2018. The center, which is under the umbrella of the TLC Family Resource Center, recently opened in its own location on Opera House Square. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, August 25, 2018

Claremont — Sipping on fruit juice and nibbling on sandwiches and fruit salad, four parents discussed the challenges they face as they strive to meet the needs of their children and maintain their recovery from addiction at a meeting on Wednesday evening.

Some of the topics discussed during one of 18 weekly meetings of Parents Together, a workshop held at the new Center for Recovery Services on Pleasant Street in downtown Claremont, might be familiar to any parent — sleep struggles for their babies, how to make family time free of electronic devices and ways to broach the subject of “the birds and the bees.”

“I don’t know anything about teenagers,” said Amber Caron, a Claremont resident who between herself and her partner Will Bennett — who was also in attendance — has six children, four of whom live with them full-time and range in age from 7 to 15. “I don’t know how I’m going to create healthy adults. It’s hard.”

The voluntary workshop, which offers parents prompts and activities to spur conversation, is jointly run by the center’s director, Wayne Miller, and TLC Family Resource Center parent educator Liz Morse.

Though Miller said he initially was “freaked out” when the Manchester-based Hope for New Hampshire Recovery pulled out of Claremont last winter and it was unclear that the peer recovery services Miller had been providing at a location on Claremont’s Main Street could continue, he and TLC already had planned to collaborate on this group for parents.

At least in part as a result of that collaboration, TLC took Miller and the Claremont-based peer recovery services under its wing.

“It was meant to be,” Miller said on Wednesday.

At the new center, which opened on July 5, Miller and a couple of other employees aim to continue providing group and individual peer support to people in recovery from addiction. Such support involves peer counseling, social activities and helping those in recovery access the services they need to maintain their sobriety. The center generally is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

In addition, Miller plans to add programs such as the parent workshop and another group that will provide support to inmates at the Sullivan County jail in Unity. That group will continue to meet at the center once inmates are released, Miller said. The center also provides training for people who wish to serve as recovery coaches and for those who wish to learn how to correctly administer the opioid-reversal drug naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan.

Hope’s closing in Claremont ended up being a blessing in disguise, Miller said. The closing brought awareness to the services Miller had been providing and “opened up a lot of other opportunities,” he said.

The new center is financially supported by $130,000 through a state contract with Harbor Homes, as well as bridge funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation ($30,000), Dartmouth-Hitchcock ($20,000) and Valley Regional Hospital ($5,000), Miller said.

On Wednesday, the center was clean and bright. The space includes a small conference room where the parents workshop was held, as well as a larger room equipped with a kitchenette and a couple of offices, including Miller’s. Shelves along some walls hold reference books such as Adult Children of Alcoholics, as well as novels such as J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and the nonfiction account of the opioid epidemic Dreamland by journalist Sam Quinones.

In addition to coping with challenges that all parents face, the parents at Wednesday’s meeting also discussed issues specific to maintaining their recovery. Three of the four, for example, said that the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families is involved in their lives. When they reach out for help, the parents said, they face stigma and often find their past missteps are used against them.

“Whatever I say, I’m on trial,” said Heather West, a Claremont mother in recovery who lost custody of three of her children while she still was in active addiction. Now, she said, she is facing new allegations that she feels have been made unfairly and without recognizing how far she has come.

“I’ve worked hard to get where I am today,” she said of her six years of recovery.

In general, DCYF’s website says that “staff provide a wide range of family-centered services with the goal of meeting the needs of parents and their children and strengthening the family system. Services are designed to support families and children in their own homes and communities whenever possible.”

DCYF offers training to staff members to prepare them to work with people in recovery, Kathleen Remillard, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services — of which DCYF is a part — said in an email on Friday.

Specifically, through the Child Welfare Education Partnership at the Concord-based Granite State College, a licensed alcohol and drug counselor teaches child protective and juvenile justice staff members to recognize the signs of substance misuse and how to partner with families in recovery, Remillard said.

Additionally, DCYF staff hear from parents in recovery through a two-day “Better Together” workshop, which invites birth parents, who have worked with DCYF, to share their experiences, she said.

“These parents also share tips and strategies on how staff can be most effective when working with families in recovery,” Remillard said.

In contrast to the way they said they felt about their experiences with DCYF, the parents at Wednesday’s meeting agreed that they find these weekly workshops with peers, Miller and Morse to be helpful, and they seem comfortable sharing their stories.

Brooke Lawton, who has an infant son, said she appreciates that in contrast to other forms of assistance where she is asked to fill out forms and provide personal information, “you guys aren’t asking anything from me.”

Caron said the group fills a void in support available to Claremont parents.

“I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” she said.

As the meeting closed and as West — who ran to the meeting because her mother’s car wouldn’t start — caught her breath after sharing her frustrations about working with DCYF on custody issues with her children, she said that the meeting “just brought my day up. I’ve been so depressed.”

It’s that sense of relief from participants in the center’s programs that motivates Miller, who also is a parent in recovery himself.

“That’s why you keep doing it,” he said.

After the 18-week workshop ends, Miller said, he hopes the parents will continue meeting on their own.

The center, which is located at 1 Pleasant St., Suite 104, will host a free training on the use of naloxone at 2 p.m. on Friday. In addition, the center will host an open house and ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m on Thursday, Sept. 20.

More information about the center is available online at tlcfamilyrc.org/thecenter.html, on the center’s Facebook page or by calling 603-287-7127.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.