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Recovery center staying connected

Recovery service providers at the Rob Constantine Recovery Center and Outreach Community pose for a picture in front of the center's survivor board on Dec. 3. From left are Family Support Navigator Theresa Austin, Director Ginger Cato, Peer Engagement Specialist Marie Insogna, and Recovery Support Specialist Sarah Kempter-Swain. (The Leader-Herald/Josh Bovee)

JOHNSTOWN — As doors close to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, those who serve the addiction recovery community have had to get creative to keep the personal connection those battling addiction rely on.

Staff and individuals at the Rob Constantine Recovery Community and Outreach Center are staying connected through virtual meetings via a program called Zoom and by phone calls with one another.

“We work with people in recovery, so we knew we could not stop services,” said Ginger Cato, director of the center.

Cato said staff has been reaching out to people by phone and Zoom to check in with those who rely on their services to make sure everyone is doing okay.

Zoom is a program that allows people to have group video chats. The staff at the recovery center have set up a schedule to accommodate the variety of groups they had before closing, when everything was “normal.” The recovery center had a variety of groups and offered different services including a men’s group, a family group and a women’s connection group, so to accommodate each group though the virtual meetings, a schedule was set up.

Every Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. is Morning Check in with Marie, at 11 a.m. is Coffee with Erinn, at 1 p.m. is Family Time with Theresa and at 3 p.m. is Lean on Loren. On Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. is a Weekend Check In. Other virtual meeting groups vary including on Monday and Thursday at 6 p.m. is You’re in Recovery; Men’s Group is on Tuesday at 6 p.m.; CRPA Support with Sara is on Wednesday and Friday at 4:30 p.m.; Women’s connection is on Wednesday at 6 p.m.; and Family Recovery Group is also on Wednesday at 6 p.m. A schedule has been posted on the center’s Facebook page.

To join one of the virtual meetings, anyone with access to a computer will have to get a sim account — which is free — and enter the ID number posted on the center’s Facebook page. Anyone who does not have access to a computer can call in.

There is also a 24-hour peer support hotline at (518) 705-4627 for anyone who needs it.

Cato said closing the center has been “difficult” because the recovering community is “just that,” it’s a community, and it’s being connected with each other.

“Because of self isolation there is no connection,” Cato said. “We’re trying to keep the recovery community connected to each other.”

She said also with everything closed, there are not a lot of resources like AA meetings for people to go to.

Since the closing of the center, she said there has been an increase in the number of people joining the Facebook page. So, to also help the recovering community, Cato shares other resources to help them on the Facebook page.

Cato said staying connected isn’t only helping the recovering community, but it is also helping staff because they’re also able to stay connected with people.

“We’re trying to stay positive,” Cato said.

Other ways they’re trying to stay connected is by sharing videos and inspirational quotes on the Facebook page.

Cato said she goes for walks and started a post called “What did Ginger see on her walk today.”

She said they don’t want to see anyone relapse, and are doing everything possible to continue to help those individuals who are recovering.

“Because it’s recovery and addiction, it’s life and death sometimes,” Cato said. “We have to stay positive for those who can’t stay positive.”

Until Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifts the ban that requires non-essential workers to stay home, they will continue to offer the virtual services, and may continue them even after the pandemic ends.

Briana O’Hara can be reached at bohara@leaderherald.com.

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