Recovery center seeks new director

AFTER TWO YEARS building up the Turning Point Center of Addison County and its substance abuse recovery offerings, Stacy Jones has stepped aside as executive director.

We are finding ways to branch out and expand by doing outreach into areas of the population where people can gather safely. We just don’t have the capacity to do that safely in-house.
— Stacy Jones

MIDDLEBURY — The Turning Point Center of Addison County (TPC) at 54 Creek Road in Middlebury is searching for a new executive director to coordinate programming for people recovering from addiction.
The new hire will succeed Stacy Jones, who in two short years did a lot for TPC, a nonprofit that provides a safe, friendly and substance-use-free environment for those in recovery — and their family members — to meet for peer-to-peer support, social activities, workshops, coaching, education and advocacy. She served the organization as a volunteer for five years prior to taking on the top administrative job.
Jones’ last day with the TPC was Friday, Sept. 4. The executive director’s job has been posted on the Indeed website, and the Turning Point board has already begun sorting through applications, according to Jones.
She expressed regret about the timing of her decision to leave, but said she needed to stay true to her priorities and those of TPC.
“One of the most valuable lessons a person learns in recovery is the value of self-care,” Jones said during a phone interview with the Independent. “It became apparent I wasn’t being able to meet the needs of both the recovery center and my family. So I needed to make a different choice.”
Jones wants to continue working in the nonprofit world in Addison County, though she’s not yet sure where.
With her departure, the TPC staff now consists of two service providers and an office associate.
“I feel terribly about the timing, because this is a time when the recovery community is really struggling,” she said.
Struggling, because TPC and similar organizations have suspended their in-person recovery programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Independent reported back in April how the organization and its devotees were forced to pivot to online programming in mid-May.
Online participation has remained fairly consistent for the 12-step programs, Jones noted, but there are folks who still don’t feel comfortable sharing and staring through a computer screen.
“What I can say is we’ve seen an increase in some meeting participation, but others are having a harder time maintaining a core group,” she said. “We’re missing this broad swath of people who aren’t able to walk through that (online) door. It’s pretty scary to do that, and we need to figure out how to address that.”
TPC is currently open only by appointment to individuals needing recovery coaching and one-to-one support. The center is offering on-site training in the use of the pharmaceutical Narcan to folks unable to navigate online sessions. Staff is meeting outdoors to the greatest extent possible.
“It’s really quite limited,” Jones said. “The physical layout of our space doesn’t allow for the appropriate social distancing necessary to be in compliance with the Vermont Department of Health.
“The center is looking to restart some outdoor meetings, but that hasn’t gotten off the ground yet,” she added.
And the lack of onsite activities has affected TPC’s limited revenue stream. Before the pandemic, the center was receiving an average of 750-850 visits per month from people whose needs ranged from intensive coaching to help putting together a resumé. Groups that meet at TPC pass around a donation basket to help defray the center’s operating costs. The donation basket has remained empty during the pandemic.
“That’s another big hit the recovery world is taking right now,” Jones said.
But gradually TPC officials are starting to see people again. They’re dispensing recovery information to people at the Porter Hospital Emergency Department who might need it and recently began outreach services to homeless individuals at the Charter House Coalition’s warming shelter in Middlebury.
“We are finding ways to branch out and expand by doing outreach into areas of the population where people can gather safely,” Jones said. “We just don’t have the capacity to do that safely in-house.”
Jones is proud of the work she did expanding TPC programming, elevating the organization’s profile in the county, and helping it transition to online programming during COVID. She’s also pleased about the current composition of the Turning Point board of directors.
“One of the reasons I can be confident stepping away now … is that the board has had a lot of new blood and leadership,” she said. “They are in a really good position to take on looking for a new leader, and to step up and fill in the gap here.”
John Flowers is at [email protected].

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