BREWER, Maine — Bangor-area residents and officials christened a 7,000-square-foot facility Wednesday the community hopes will be home to a lot of healing in years to come.
More than 100 community members, health care leaders, and city and state officials turned out at noon to celebrate the opening of The Bangor Area Recovery Network in Brewer at 142 Center St.
BARN is a nonprofit organization formed in 2009 to support individuals who are recovering from addiction.
“It matters less to us how they recover, it matters more that they recover,” said Jean Baker, president of the BARN board. “Our mission is to provide a safe place for them to explore what might work for them.”
Without programs like BARN to help along addiction recovery, communities will “pay a much larger price in the long run,” said Jerry Goss, deputy mayor of Brewer. Goss then presented a key to the city to BARN.
A state-sponsored report completed six years ago found the annual economic impact of addiction in Penobscot County is around $100 million, according to Shawn Yardley, a BARN board member and director of Bangor’s Department of Health and Community Services. He added that every $1 spent on prevention and treatment saves $4, on average.
Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross joked that he “has the privilege of operating one of the largest detox facilities in Penobscot County,” referring to Penobscot County Jail. Ross said drug and alcohol addiction are the most significant contributors to the jail’s high population.
“This is a community problem;this is not a jail problem,” Ross said.
The jail helps addicted individuals detox before they leave the facility, “but what happens when they get out? That’s where the BARN comes in,” the sheriff said.
Speakers at the event stressed the importance of the fact that BARN brings recovering addicts together to help one another through the process.
H. Blake Manz, a veteran who struggled with mental health issues after his service and became an addict before going to BARN to seek help, also spoke at the event. Manz has been sober for three years, and plans to give back to BARN by participating in a cross-country walk, called “3,000 Miles for Recovery,” to raise awareness and funding for recovery programs for veterans suffering from addiction.
Representatives from the offices of Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, as well as Rep. Mike Michaud, also attended the ceremony and read statements on behalf of the delegates.
Near the close of the event, Courtney Hutchins-McCollum, director of Dead River Company Family Charities, presented a $5,000 check to Josh Hayward, campaign director for BARN. Hayward announced that Bangor Savings Bank also had donated $5,000. Penobscot Community Health Care pitched in another $3,000 on BARN’s first day in its new home.
Hayward said BARN has a fundraising goal of $550,000, which would allow the organization to pay off its new facility, acquire other properties and operate as a debt-free nonprofit.
“Investing in this is investing in all of us,” Hayward said.
An earlier version of this story requires correction. Josh Hayward, not Howard, is campaign director for BARN.