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Peer Recovery and respite Center of Augusta

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The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network (GMHCN) is pleased to announce that the doors will soon open to the public at the new Peer Recovery and Respite Center of Augusta (PRRCA), where we will be providing in-person recovery, respite, and wellness supports and services to the regional Augusta adult mental health recovery community.

To celebrate this milestone, the PRRCA will be hosting an Open House with the theme “Hope Springs Eternal,” a reflection of GMHCN ‘s decision in the fall of 2020 to fulfill a long-cherished goal of providing peer support and respite in Augusta, despite the significant unfunded capital outlay to make the donated property safe and healthy for respite guests, having just received significant budget cuts from the COVID cutbacks, and having no idea when or if funding would return, or when in-person services might resume. We were still months away from a vaccine when we made the decision to move forward with the investment of money, time, and energy in Augusta, though we could not know that at the time. What we did know was that if and when the pandemic ended, Augusta (and the world) would need more spiritual, emotional, mental, and behavioral health support than it has in generations. 

The Honorary Event Chair is Ben L. Harbin, who began championing this effort from the moment he set foot in the Peer Support and Wellness Center in Decatur in the fall of 2020. Ben immediately recognized the benefits of the respite model, and began working to make certain GMHCN would have the opportunity to provide support in his hometown of Augusta. We are grateful for his steadfast commitment to realizing the opening of the PRRCA, and for his work on behalf of all Georgians living with mental health concerns. Bethany Lange and Shannon Basford are both crucial parts of Ben's team, and have proven invaluable to the work of the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network in Augusta and across the state, and we are in their debt.

 

CORE SERVICES AT THE CENTER INCLUDE:
•Peer Support: All staff at the PRRC are trained and certified by the State of Georgia to provide peer support as Certified Peer Specialists—Mental Health.
•Respite: Georgians 18 years of age or older who self-identify as living with a mental health concern may utilize one of the four private bedrooms for 7 nights every 30 days as an alternative to psychiatric hospitalization, or for peers who may be overwhelmed by life challenges, and could benefit from support. Participation in recovery and wellness activities is entirely voluntary.
•Peer2Peer Warm Line: The staff at the PRRC provide peer support over the phone 24/7/365, and because they are local, they can help callers identify resources in the community to achieve and maintain their recovery and wellness goals; and, they really listen to each caller, and they care.
•Community Building: Centers serve dual community functions: As hubs where members of the mental health recovery community support one another in group activities available daily and on holidays throughout the year; and, Center staff work to build collaborative relationships within the community at large, to decrease stigma and increase opportunities for connection.

 

THE OPEN HOUSE is first and foremost an opportunity for people to learn about who we are and what we do, and for us to hear about additional ways we can support the community. There will be minimal fundraising, including a silent auction, and we are accepting donations of goods and services for it as well as monetary donations to help pay for the renovations required to make the PRRCA a safe and healthy environment for our guests.

While we are encouraging everyone to wear festive spring attire, we are much more interested in everyone being comfortable, and everyone attending who has an interest in the work we do. So please plan to join us.

 

The Open House will feature:
•Live Music

•Hors-d'oeuvres from Fraîche

•Silent Auction

•Tours of the campus and staff introductions

Have questions? Have goods or services to donate to our silent auction? Please email augusta@gmhcn.org or call 706-426-1310. We would love to hear from you.

The location of the Hope Springs Eternal Inaugural Open House is the Peer Recovery and Respite Center of Augusta at 1720 Central Avenue, Augusta, Georgia 30904, and will be held May 19, 2022 from 4pm - 7pm.

 

DECEMBER 2021 UPDATE

The process of renovating the building where respite will be provided is well underway. We remain hopeful that we will be able to begin providing respite early in 2022. Updates to the other buildings, including some cleaning and maintenance, is also underway, and we are looking forward to providing in-person recovery and wellness activities after the first of the year. Staff for the Augusta Peer Recovery and Respite Center are being hired and trained systematically, beginning with the director of the Center, Anthony Wright, who came on board in the fall of 2021 and is busy putting together a great team and preparing the Center to open.

Many have asked what they can do to support the Center, and our staff in Augusta have worked with the staff of our other four Centers to create a Wish List on Amazon of many of the things we will need to make the Center in Augusta a success. It takes a lot of resources—at nearly every price point—to operate a Center 24/7/365. We would be most thankful to anyone able to help us prepare the Center for success by a donation of any size from that Amazon Wish List. For those who would prefer to contribute by buying locally, we understand and will welcome any local donation—just email us at augusta@gmhcn.org. Monetary donations can be earmarked for Augusta through the PayPal link on our membership page, or you can contact our finance office to make arrangements for alternative donation methods.

ABOUT THE PEER RECOVERY AND RESPITE CENTER OF AUGUSTA (November 2020)

Augusta's mental health recovery community has long sought GMHCN to bring a respite center to Augusta, and as a result of the unfortunate economic impacts of the pandemic, that opportunity is now closer to being realized than ever. To learn more about Georgia's Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Centers, please click here.

Our goals for the Peer Recovery and Respite Center of Augusta:

  • 150 participants will engage annually in 3,000 support activities (recreational, vocational, and therapeutic activities) and utilize 1,000 overnight respite stays. These numbers are based on utilization data from other Centers. Because of Augusta's population density, utilization may be higher.

  • A community outreach coordinator will focus on reaching out and providing support to those impacted by trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Multiple pathways to recovery will be supported, including but not limited to mutual support groups, faith-based recovery, medication-assisted recovery, and a drop-in resource center to support the removal of barriers to recovery (employment, housing, etc).

  • Behavioral health stigma will be reduced by inclusion, peer modeling, and intentional engagement with community stakeholders, which will also allow the unique needs of the Augusta area to be addressed through community-specific programming and resources. 

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Georgia State Representatives Jodi Lott and Brian Prince with Roslind Hayes (center), Statewide Director of GMHCN's Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Centers at the December 9, 2020 ribbon-cutting at the future Peer Recovery and Wellness Center of Augusta.

"HOPE AND RESILIENCE IN AUGUSTA"

from The Pipeline 2020-2021 Volume 2

 

The economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to reverberate through families and communities across the country, and appear unlikely to abate in the near future. In a June 2020 survey by the Charities Aid Foundation of America, nearly one-third of nonprofit organizations in the United States reported that they were likely to close within twelve months. 

 

Those impacts are being felt throughout Georgia. Many organizations, including the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, have experienced significant budget cuts from their funders. While GMHCN has been able to continue the majority of its programming, the Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Center of Henry County was closed as a result of State of Georgia budget cuts. It was while GMHCN was still grieving that closure over the summer that a call was received from Augusta asking if GMHCN would be interested in establishing peer support there. 

 

Friendship Community Center, which has provided support for adults with mental health concerns since 1976, was facing catastrophic budget cuts. A bedrock of the Augusta community found itself at an impasse like so many other organizations: At the same time its primary funders were diverting funds to COVID-19 crisis needs, it was unable to pursue many traditional fundraising strategies, or fulfill its primary mission, because of the lockdown and social distancing. Its board of directors, recognizing the critical and increasing need for community-based mental health supports, made the call. And GMHCN answered.

 

Sherry Jenkins Tucker, GMHCN’s executive director, said “Anyone who cares about mental health in Augusta should be saddened by the loss of services at Friendship Community Center. Anytime a trusted community partner and service provider experiences this sort of interruption of services, it is felt throughout the community, but most acutely by those with the least resources to find alternatives. We are deeply humbled and honored that the leadership of Friendship Community Center identified GMHCN as an organization who could be trusted to act in the best interests of Augusta’s mental health recovery community. We are actively working to secure funding to restore peer recovery and wellness supports and services as soon as possible.”

 

Roslind Hayes, the Statewide Director of GMHCN’s Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Centers is excited by this new opportunity, and said “Since I first began working with the Centers ten years ago, people have been asking when we would open a Center in Augusta, and to have this opportunity, even through these really unfortunate circumstances, really is just such a blessing. Every community should have an alternative to psychiatric hospitalization, and we are going to do everything we can to make respite a reality in Augusta.”

 

Leonard Maxey, Executive Director of Friendship Community Center, is hopeful for the future of community-based peer support in Augusta, saying “We are all so thrilled that Augusta will gain such a valuable and committed resource as GMHCN at a time when the need for mental health support is unprecedented and growing.”

While GMHCN is seeking funding to make the site of Friendship Community Center operational again, input from Augusta’s peer community will also be sought to determine the priority of community needs, and a vision for the future.

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