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A larger foundation

Where some would see a mostly empty retail and office space, Foundations for Recovery executive director Doug Gould sees potential.

On a Friday afternoon, at Foundations for Recovery's newly secured location at 817 N. Central Ave., Suite C in Medford, Gould showcased uses for the new facility in a tour. A room in the back will serve as a classroom/meeting area accommodating up to 25 people, another room will serve as an area for one-on-one peer counseling.  With a couple of grants, a small room could be a computer lab.

The immediate priority for Gould, the organization's executive director, was moving the organization to its new, more visible base about half-mile north of its former site in the Woolworth building.

"We've got a lot to do over the weekend," Gould said. 

Going from 400 to 1,350 square feet of space opens up new opportunities for the nonprofit organization, which provides one-on-one counseling and peer support for individuals struggling with addiction. In particular, while its office space in the Woolworth building worked suitably for individual counseling sessions, even small support groups were a challenge — particularly as the organization sought to expand its programs for youth and teens.

"We couldn't even do family support groups," Gould said. "We'd go across the street and get coffee."

The first regular use for the large meeting area will be a "Bridging the Gap" support group beginning June 25 for parents and families of addicted and at-risk youth. 

"We've had parents ask, 'How far am I enabling? What do I do?'" Gould said. "Now that we're a larger facility, we can implement (the youth program) on a larger scale."

In addition to being bigger and more visible, Gould says, the new location will be more approachable — an important factor when mental barriers to seek help are high. In contrast to Foundations for Recovery's old upstairs office, which meant an elevator ride or walk up the stairs in a busy professional complex, now a comforting and accepting environment is found right through the glass door.

"Making that first call is one of the hardest things," Gould said. "No one walks in here without a handshake or a hug."

Helping the individual will remain the organization's focus, as it has been since Foundations for Recovery was founded by addictions counselor Steve Hale in 2011, who passed away in March of 2012 due to diabetes complications after nine years of sobriety. After seeing faults in support groups, Hale began a one-on-one approach, modeled on a program organized by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery. Gould, who found sobriety through Hale's efforts, took the reins of the organization in 2012. 

"We like to call it 'personalized, one-on-one recovery coaching," Gould said. "It's kind of a holistic approach, a wellness approach." 

Volunteer counselors have a background in addiction, but beyond addiction, the volunteers help with everything from life skills to rides to 12-step meetings.  

"We always say peer mentoring is like a glorified sponsor," Gould said.

Gould is proud of Foundations for Recovery's success. Of the 451 individuals the organization has had participate in its 12-week mentoring program since 2011, Gould has tallied a 58 percent success rate at the end of 2014. And he doesn't consider the others lost causes.

"No matter how many times our patient relapses, we don't give up," Gould said.

As a faith-based organization, Foundations for Recovery also makes available religious-based recovery tools, but Gould emphasizes that faith-based tools are completely optional.

"If they so choose they want to use faith in their recovery, we can facilitate that," Gould said. "It's the participant's own pathway to recovery, and we just guide them along."

Another misconception Gould addressed is that Foundations for Recovery's additional help is expensive.

"We don't charge for our services," Gould said.

Gould said that because peer support services are covered by health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, charging for services and paying volunteer counselors could be a revenue stream for the organization down the line. Currently the organization's sole revenue streams come from grants, local businesses, churches and individuals.

"We will never turn anyone away," Gould said. "These volunteer coaches — one of these day's we'll be equipped to pay them, to hire them." 

An open house event is planned for Friday, July 10. For more information about the organization, call 541-245-4673 or see www.lovefoundations.com.

Reach Nick Morgan at nmorgan@mailtribune.com or 541-776-4477.