Tributes flow at Northampton Recovery Center’s grand opening

  • Chief Jody D. Kasper, Patrick Cahillane Sheriff at Hampshire County, and Jennifer Ewerg, during the grand opening of the Northampton Recovery Center. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Frank Farro listens as people clap during the grand opening of the Northampton Recovery Center Thursday, August 26, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Amy Radgowski announces a surprise donation to the center in the name of her sister, Nina Kuter, who passed away on July 25th, 2019, during the grand opening Thursday, August 26, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Representative Lindsay Sabadosa during the grand opening of the Northampton Recovery Center Thursday, August 26, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Deb Wyand, a recovery coach at the Northampton Recovery Center, speaks during the grand opening. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lynn Ferro, director of the Northampton Recovery Center, talks during the grand opening Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lynn Ferro, Director of the Northampton Recovery Center talks with KB McConnell during the grand opening Thursday, August 26, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mike Clark looks over the Hope and Remembrance quilt during the grand opening of the Northampton Recovery Center, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Amy Radgowski announces a surprise donation to the Northampton Recovery Center during the grand opening Thursday, in the name of her sister, Nina Kuter, who died July 25, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kristen Dubuque plays with her son Maximiliam,6 months, during the grand opening of the Northampton Recovery Center. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2021 9:08:55 PM

NORTHAMPTON — “It’s hard for me to talk,” Ralph D’Amico said, choking back tears. “If I knew this type of stuff years ago, I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now.”

He was speaking to a standing-room-only crowd Thursday afternoon at the grand opening of the Northampton Recovery Center’s new location at 25 Armory St., the site of the former La Fiorentina Pastry Shop.

“This is like my family,” D’Amico said, describing for more than 50 people the impact that the center’s addiction recovery programs have had on his life. “I came here, originally, from the Hampshire County jail. I had a lot of counseling, learned a lot about addiction. … Now I volunteer here twice a week.

“If you really need help and want a good place to go,” he said, once again losing his voice as he spoke through tears, “come here.”

Powerful emotions were on display at Thursday’s grand opening, but the atmosphere was one of celebration. The new 3,000-square-foot site is nearly triple the size of the previous one-room location at 2 Gleason Plaza, and features a wide range of amenities and recovery resources that were unavailable until now.

State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, said she is the sister of a person in addiction recovery. She spoke of a need to end the stigma associated with substance addiction, and said there are “real friends, a real life, behind all of the people” who use the center’s services.

The center opened at Edwards Church on Main Street in 2016, and moved to Gleason Plaza in 2018. Lynn Ferro, the center’s director, said they are “forever grateful” to Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan for providing the original seed money.

The new location was renovated with help from donations, including a $16,000 Beveridge Family Foundation Grant, and held a limited opening in April. For three years, its programming will be funded $400,000 annually by the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance and Addiction Services and the Greenfield-based RECOVER Project.

The space offers a full kitchen and culinary education, a private counseling room, three desktop computers, storage lockers and baby-changing stations in the fully accessible bathrooms.

Member-created art exhibits and information about recovery resources line every wall. Memorial quilts honor those who have died from addiction-related diseases and overdose; a square of one quilt is dedicated to “the addict who still suffers and dies today without knowing that recovery is possible.”

Another square is dedicated to Nina Kuter, who died on July 15, 2019. Her family raises money for the center in her memory, providing scholarships for people in recovery to go to school. On Thursday, Nina’s sister, Amy Radgowski, surprised the center with an additional check for $4,570.

“This place was a part of her journey, her quest, to get better. Unfortunately, two summers ago, my sister lost her battle,” said Radgowski. “It means so much to me … to be part of the change here in this community. It truly means everything to me.”

Support groups, including Zoom and hybrid meetings, are available on a range of subjects involving addiction and its consequences, and yoga and art therapy are offered as well.

Every other Wednesday at noon, the center offers a free lunch followed by a 1 p.m. community meeting. Every Thursday at 1 p.m., the center hosts 50 minutes of quiet study and meditation time.

Greenfield Savings Bank donated money to start a new family education and support group that is set to launch in the fall.

“There are too many people who have not had this, who have not had a place they could go where they found family, where they found help whenever they needed it,” said Sabadosa. “If you are able, checkbooks out, my friends, because there’s nothing better that you can invest in.”

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.
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