Peer Recovery and Wellness Center of Augusta
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 Wellness 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.
To join our advocacy efforts to secure funding for the Peer Recovery and Wellness Center of Augusta, please click here.
Augusta Chronicle: "New Mental Health Center Coming to Augusta, Replacing Friendship Community Center"
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"
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.