By Seth Daniel
It has long been the hope for CSAC to have a drop-in office space for people in recovery to stop by and check in with counselors, along with being able to access computers and job opportunities.
Leaders in the organization say it’s one of those items on the “Pipe Dream” list.
For years they talked about it, but put the measure on hold due to costs and complications. Now, however, with the increasing focus on the opiate addiction problem in the state, CSAC is reviving the conversation with local leaders in hopes that the newfound attention could unlock funding for just such a pipe dream.
“It is a pipe dream of ours of have a location where we could have a drop-in center,” said Sarah Coughlin of CSAC. “We had been exploring this a long time ago, having a recovery drop-in site, and there has been a lot of support from the community for it. We are on the third floor of the Boys & Girls Club and that’s not a place where everyone feels comfortable coming because there are kids there and that might not be the best place for those in recovery or are currently using…Now that the rest of the world is kind of concentrating on what we’ve been doing here for a long time, there seems to be a lot of energy to explore this pipe dream of ours again.”
CSAC has made a few presentations already to the Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) and explained the roadblocks that came up in the past. At Thursday night’s CNC meeting, members agreed to try to go to the State House to get funding for this program in 2016.
Those include costs, mostly.
Coughlin said they had a plan to locate the drop-in above the Lacrosse and Learning Center across the street from their current location on Green Street.
However, after some encouraging conversations, hope was doused by an estimate of nearly $1 million to renovate the structure – which is in dire need of repair.
“It was a beautiful space close to where we’re at now and centrally located,” she said. “It was old and not being used and everyone wanted this center there, but the expenses were huge…It’s a conversation we have had a long time and something we’ve been talking about again lately.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan said such a center is a real missing link in the successful story of recovery efforts in Charlestown.
“I like the idea and whether it’s CSAC or a subcontractor driving it, it’s definitely something that’s needed – this kind of drop-in counseling center,” he said. “We have found out that Charlestown is doing a great job of getting people clean and sober. So, with that, we now have a bunch of clean and sober adults hanging around who do not have a work history, are trying to get housing and trying to find help with all these things. If there’s a storefront where they can get this help, I think it would go a long way.”
Ryan said he could envision something like that on Main Street, where a lot of folks congregate right now.
However, Coughlin said they believe something needs to be more centrally located.
“That’s not a bad idea, but the folks from BHA (Boston Housing Authority) would not go there,” she said. “We liked Green Street because it’s a cut-through for everyone. This effects the entire community and in order to do our best, we’d have to be where everyone would go.”
Therein lies the challenge – finding a place.
Coughlin said that could be a huge barrier in Charlestown, but hopefully not an insurmountable one.