Two Charlestown health centers have come together this summer and fall to collaborate on a drop-in resource center, particularly for those struggling with addiction and other such issues.
NEW Charlestown and the Charlestown MGH Health Center have collaborated on opening the Crossroads Resource Center within the NEW Health Center in Hayes Square. The space has been carved out of what was a conference room in the Health Center, and offers a five-day drop-in center that is staffed by personnel from both health centers.
Resource Specialist Gina Cardone said the Center offers recovery coaches, including Shannon White from MGH and Lorraine Fitzgerald from NEW Charlestown. Additionally, it offers people who are patients or just community members a place to relax, to get help with things like job applications, to use computers or to simply get a cup of hot coffee while having a conversation.
“People are feeling really comfortable here and there has been a big change since we first opened in May,” she said.
The idea was born by the Centers’ two medical directors – MGH’s Jim Morrill and NEW Health’s Anne Murray Chiriboga – who felt that the Town needed a Center for people to come to. Space was available at NEW Charlestown in the underutilized conference room, and they figured – why not work together?
“There was this hesitation to break the boundaries and work at this together,” Morrill said. “But we think this is a great idea, and we did this together. Any hesitations there might have been actually didn’t exist.”
Said Chiriboga, “We’re all in this together. There’s so much work to be done. If we work together, there’s so much more we can do.”
Crossroads is open Monday to Friday, 12:30-3:30 p.m. and is staffed with those offering recovery resources, and other resources like social service and housing matters. They have coffee, snacks and computer access as well.
One thing that has been important, both doctors said, was to let the clients and Recovery Coaches define what the space would be. That means it is constantly evolving with the needs of those using it – but always with a strong recovery theme to it.
At the grand opening on Monday outside the center, several City and state officials were there for the celebration, including Health Chief Marty Martinez, State Rep. Dan Ryan and Councilor Lydia Edwards.
“It was the health centers that were in the community when this epidemic first hit and were asking people like me for ideas,” said Rep. Ryan. “At the time, the charge was for us to ‘Just Say No.’ We thought that was it. Now we are 25 years later and it’s so much more than ‘Just Say No.’ You can only ‘Just Say No’ so many times. Good luck to those who ‘Just Say No.’ The rest of us need an entire community. That’s what we have here in this space.”
Said Councilor Edwards, “This is what we do in Charlestown. We meet people where they are because we know they will grow tremendously if we help them…What an amazing model we have here in Charlestown.”
The Crossroads Resource Center is open weekdays, Monday through Friday, 12:30-3:30 p.m., 15 Tufts St.