Northbridge Coalition Opens Blackstone Valley Resource Center

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Jonathan Cressman at the resource center's computer station. Photo Credit: Contributed
At the resource center conference table, front, Jeanie Marino; from left, rear, Kelly Viera-McGowan, Tanisha Proverbs, Gabrielle Keegan and Craig Maxim. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Family Continuity

on Church Street in Whitinsville is a valuable resource in the Blackstone Valley, offering home-based and outpatient mental health treatment to people of all ages.

In the process of helping people deal with substance abuse and mental health issues it became evident that many factors contribute to those problems, said Craig Maxim, director of the Whitinsville office of Family Continuity.

So Family Continuity now offers another resource, one that refers people to service providers that may help them deal with the stressors of life.

The Blackstone Valley Connector Community Resource Center was an idea broached by focus groups when The Northbridge Coalition, an arm of Family Continuity, began in 2011.

Four top needs in the Blackstone Valley were identified in the focus groups – food, fuel, housing and utilities. The Coalition is a partnership of students, parents, educators, professionals and citizens working to address those needs.

The hope was to open resource center on the ground floor of the Family Continuity building through which people, whether or not they need mental health counseling, can be pointed to resources they do need.

That center is open only on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is staffed by Family Continuity, grad students and volunteers, but plans are to expand hours.

In the last month, resource center staff has helped a young man search for a job using its computer station, provided transportation to counseling sessions to an isolated young woman who would otherwise not be able to attend, and helped another young man with significant mental health issues and no insurance apply for Mass Health insurance.

“It’s mostly young adults,’’ Maxim said. “We’re here as a support for them if they’re looking for services we can’t provide, and to help them to the degree they want the help.’’

A list of available resources is available at the center and staff continues to add to that list as the service becomes known, Maxim noted. “We know some of them, but for every one we know there are 10 others,’’ he said.

Visitors may be walked through the application process for free or reduced school lunches for their children and connected with the Northbridge Food Pantry or the Peace of Bread Community Kitchen.

They may be referred to Catholic Charities, Northbridge Housing Authority or many of the other programs that help resolve housing issues, or connected with resources that help with fuel assistance.

The center was made possible through a small grant and some private donations, he noted.

The center is also looking for volunteers who deliver flyers to churches and doctor’s office and bring clients to appointments. Volunteers are paid for mileage.

For information on volunteering, contact Maxim at cmaxim@familycontinuity.org or call 508-234-4181 ext. 5062.

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