By Keith Whitcomb Jr.
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Omission: House Rep. Timothy Corcoran II, D-Bennington, was also in attendance. This article was updated on Dec. 17, 2015, to reflect this.
BENNINGTON — The Turning Point Center will begin a fundraising campaign in the coming year in order to purchase a larger space.
The Center hosted a legislative breakfast Wednesday where many Bennington County state legislators attended to hear about what's new at the Center.
The Turning Point Center, at 465 Main Street, is one of several in the state that acts as a resource hub for those seeking recovery from addiction. It's staffed mostly by volunteers who steer those battling addiction, and their friends and family members, towards agencies that can assist them.
"In the coming year, we are going to be launching a building fundraiser," said Joan Walsh, director of the Bennington Turning Point Center. "We want very much to expand, we want to be able to provide more services for families, for youth. We don't have the space here to do that."
She said a new location has been staked out and there have been talks with a bank. All the Center needs now is $90,000 for a down payment, of which a third has already been raised. Walsh said that not long ago, a person anonymously donated $1,000 in cash towards the building fund after hearing about it.
"I think that also speaks a lot about what people are experiencing here, and the belief in what we're doing," she said.
House Rep. Bill Botzow, D-Pownal/Woodford, said there are grant opportunities through the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services.
Aside from Botzow, House Reps Kiah Morris, D-Bennington, Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington, Allison Miller, D-Shaftsbury, Steven Berry, D-Manchester, Timothy Corcoran II, D-Bennington, and Bennington County Democratic Senators Dick Sears and Brian Campion, were in attendance.
Walsh said that new to the Center this year are Naloxone kits, which it distributes for free to anyone who wants one. The kits are simple to use and reverse opioid overdoses. While they can be given out any time, The Turning Point Center has staff on hand to train people in their use Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The kits only work on opioid overdoses. They have no effect, good or bad, on someone who has overdosed on a non-opioid substance.
The Center got the kits in October and has since given them to 37 people. Among them, parents worried that their son would suffer an overdose.
"They were very worried about him. They were doing an intervention, so they wanted one of these kits. We gave them one, and unfortunately, the son did overdose," Walsh said. "They didn't get there in time to use it, which is one of the reasons we want to keep putting the word out there about this, because there's so many overdoses right now."
Another thing the Center is excited about are little green cards.
"This is what we're calling the 'Reach Out' card," she said, showing the gathered legislators one of the cards. "It's a two sided card and it actually speaks to people who are struggling with addiction, or their family members and friends, whoever might have an interest in any of this."
The cards have the Center's number and address and are being given out to multiple agencies that have contact with those addicted to drugs, or the families and friends thereof.
The Center has also been adjusting the times of the various meetings held there to maximize attendance, Walsh said.
Walsh is the only full-time employee at the Center. Another person works one day a week there, and another is funded through a grant.
"This center is what it is today because of the volunteers," she said, a little more than half a dozen of which were present.
She said the Center is also starting to attract college interns.
"We now have students from different colleges wanting to do internships here, and we didn't have that before, that started just about a year ago," she said.
— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115