Northampton Recovery Center to occupy former pastry shop

  • The site of the former La Fiorentina pastry shop at 25 Armory St. in Northampton. The space will soon house the Northampton Recovery Center. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL CONNORS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/17/2020 12:05:46 AM

NORTHAMPTON — A local nonprofit that helps people struggling with addiction is set to move into the former La Fiorentina pastry shop on Armory Street.

“We anticipate being able to move in in May,” said Lynn Ferro, director of the Northampton Recovery Center.

She said the nonprofit has signed a lease to occupy the former bakery, which will require extensive renovation. The recovery center has accepted a bid for the work, which will begin as soon as all permits are obtained, Ferro said.

La Fiorentina, which opened in Northampton in 1991, closed last summer.

The Northampton Recovery Center helps people recovering from addiction and offers support for the loved ones of those in recovery or struggling with addiction. Founded in the fall of 2016, it provides a safe space, programming and social events for those it serves.

“Community and connection are key antidotes to addiction,” Ferro said.

The organization is mostly run by volunteers and uses a peer participatory process. This means that those who use and are most affected by the programming have a primary role in how programming at the rehab center is developed and participate in the organization on every level.

“We are not a top-down agency,” she said.

The rehab center now operates out of 2 Gleason Plaza off Pleasant Street. However, Ferro said the organization outgrew the space almost as soon as it moved into it. Funding from the United Way enabled the nonprofit’s move into the 975-square-foot space in May 2018.

This December, Northampton Recovery Center signed a contract for $400,000 a year for two years of funding from the state Bureau of Substance Addiction Services.

The organization needed a bigger space that had amenities including a full kitchen, a very large meeting room, and a quiet room to qualify for the funding. The La Fiorentina space met those requirements.

Until recently, Ferro was the only staff member. However, in December, the hiring process began for a volunteer coordinator, an outreach and community engagement coordinator, an administrative assistant and a peer coordinator.

“Having staff will be so helpful,” Ferro said.

A volunteer coordinator and peer engagement coordinator have started working already, while an outreach and community engagement coordinator is set to start next week. An administrative assistant has yet to be hired.

Dan Bickford, the peer coordinator, started work at the nonprofit this month, but he was volunteering there for more than a year and a half beforehand. He’s also served on the organization’s advisory committee.

“As I progressed in my recovery … I was able to give back to the community,” Bickford said.

Bickford said that he doesn’t consider himself to be in a position of authority and that staff “try to operate as peers in the community.”

He also said that he’s excited about the new space, saying that the current location is a bit cramped.

Ferro said Northampton Recovery Center embraces many paths to recovery. It currently hosts 12-step programs, as well as a mindfulness meditation class, a yoga class, and a SMART Recovery group, among other programs. A bereavement program for those who have lost loved ones to addiction will be coming in March.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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