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Turning Point Center seeks new home for its addiction recovery work

MIDDLEBURY — The Turning Point Center (TPC) of Addison County is seeking land or a building in which to relocate within the year. Free, would be nice.
 The nonprofit drug rehabilitation center learned recently it has until next August to vacate its rented space within Middlebury’s Marble Works complex, so they’re in the market for another benevolent, if not wholly supportive, landlord — preferably one who could donate space to them.
TPC of Addison County is a member of the Vermont Recovery Network that offers peer-to-peer support to people in recovery, or those seeking recovery, from addictive substances and behaviors. The organization also dispenses Narcan emergency kits to people in an effort to prevent fatal opioid overdoses.
Since opening in the Marble Works in June of 2006, the center has provided a safe, supportive environment for those in recovery and a location for meetings, classes and support groups that include Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.
Bill Brim, executive director of TPC of Addison County, said the center last year received around 1,000 visits per month from addicts or their family members seeking various services, ranging from a willing listener to pointers on how to re-enter the labor market. That’s up from around 600 visits per month just three years ago. That kind of traffic has placed stress on the  TPC’s limited space at 228 Maple St., according to Brim.
“We are getting really busy here,” said Brim, who shares a small office with a part-time assistant. The center’s four meeting rooms are often occupied, as is a larger gathering spot in the lower level of the building.
“We definitely need more meeting rooms,” said Art Howard, president of the TPC board. “We are expanding so fast.”
Brim said the TPC could use around twice the 2,000 square feet it currently occupies. And the organization needs to pin down a new home sooner than later. That’s because the Marble Works Partnership has given the TPC ample notice that the 228 Maple St. space will be put to different use when the current lease is up in August 2016.
Representatives of TPC are thinking big in their hopes for a new headquarters. They’d like to include a residential component to their digs and are hoping that one or more donors will step up to offer a piece of land or a building that could be fixed up to accommodate the organization’s vision for future delivery of services.
“In addition to larger, handicapped-accessible meeting spaces, the Center believes it is time to step up to help those in need of sober housing by creating an onsite, substance-free apartment program for people in recovery,” Brim said.
As it stands, the TPC must refer many of its homeless clients to residential programs in other parts of the state, such as the Oxford Houses of Vermont in Burlington and the Dismas House in Rutland, Burlington and Hartford.
“The (Vermont) Department of Corrections is holding people they can’t release into Addison County because there is no place for them to go that will meet their criteria for release, which includes not being around drugs,” Brim said.
Typically, these homes for people recovering from addiction cater to a single gender and provide short-term accommodations while the client receives recovery counseling, employment advice and other services, according to Brim. Some of these recovery houses are peer-run and overseen by a manager or mentor, Brim added. Clients are often required to pay their fair share for utilities and rent, according to Brim.
Some TPC clients are also referred to the John Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes.
Elizabeth Ready, executive director of the John Graham Shelter, said the Vergennes-based organization operates five buildings that have this year delivered housing, counseling and other services to 25 people struggling with various addictions. The shelter serves many families, but also a lot of single adults in recovery, according to Ready.
She was pleased to hear about TPC’s goal of opening a house for people recovering from addiction.
“I think Addison County could absolutely use housing for people suffering from addiction,” Ready said.
Housing, Ready believes, is critical to a client’s recovery effort.
“You can’t expect someone to kick a habit outside in the snow and rain,” Ready said.
TPC officials would like to keep the organization’s headquarters and a new recovery home near downtown Middlebury. They explained that those recovering from addiction often aren’t driving, so being along a bus route and within walking distance to groceries and services is important.
Anyone wanting to begin a conversation with TPC about a donation should contact Brim at (802) 683-5569 or at [email protected].
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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