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Turningpoint center seeks donations for wheelchair lift

MIDDLEBURY — For almost five years, the Turningpoint Center of Addison County has given a big lift to people recovering from a litany of substance and behavioral addictions.
The center is now raising money to provide a literal lift to the most physically challenged at its headquarters in the Marble Works neighborhood of Middlebury. Specifically, the small nonprofit is seeking $25,000 in donations and grants to pay for a vertical wheelchair platform lift that would allow disabled clients to access Turningpoint Center’s spacious basement area, where most of its programs and activities are offered.
“There are currently two regulars here who would benefit from the platform lift, and you never know who is going to come in next,” said Turningpoint Executive Director Craig Bingham.
Turningpoint Center received 6,657 visits during fiscal year 2010. Visitors included recovering addicts and/or their family members, all looking for a sympathetic ear, referral to services or a momentary diversion from their struggles. Clients are offered free access to computer stations, television, reading material, food and a wealth of information on how to get help.
“We work with people to create a recovery plan to help them stay clean and sober,” Bingham said. “We also provide peer-to-peer recovery support and a recovery coaching program.”
While the center does not offer its own clinical or counseling programs, it rents out space to a 12-step program and to other recovery-oriented groups, according to Bingham.
Most of those programs are ideally held in the center’s lower level, which is equipped with two ample meeting rooms, a kitchen for occasional community dinners and a social space that includes a pool table. Bingham — the only paid, part-time staffer — and volunteers have done a lot of creative scavenging and bargain hunting to gather supplies and appliances on the cheap.
Now they want to ensure that people of all physical abilities are able to access services. A lengthy, descending stairway stands between the more frail clients and Turningpoint services.
It’s a situation that Bingham hopes can be remedied before the end of this year with the installation of a platform lift. This would entail cutting a hole through the ground-level floor of the center. The lift would then be installed and allow clients to be lowered into the basement area without leaving their wheelchairs, Bingham explained.
Former Gov. James Douglas has agreed to serve as chairman of the wheelchair platform fund-raising campaign. The organization has thus far raised $4,400 toward the lift, thanks to individual donations and a gift from the Marble Works Partnership (the center’s landlord).
An anonymous donor has pledged a $1,000 gift, contingent on a dollar-for-dollar match during the next 90 days. Bingham is optimistic about meeting the match and a successful campaign.
Anyone interested in contributing to the effort should contact the Turningpoint Center at 388-4249 or send donations to the Turningpoint Center of Addison County, P.O. Box 405, Middlebury, VT 05753.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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