MWV Supports 

Helping our community advocate for those struggling with Substance Use Disorder

In The News

From left: Chris Spinney, Joey Rodriguez and Ed Doe man the grills at the rally Sunday in Schouler Park following “Take a Walk in Our Shoes.” (DAYMOND STEER PHOTO)

New Hampshire's Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative gives business owners the resources and support they need to foster a supportive environment that encourages the success of their employees in recovery. Congratulations to MWVSR for receiving a Recovery Friendly Workplace (RFW) designation certificate from the Office of Governor Sununu
L to R: Janice Spinney, President; Jason Garrett, Recovery Coach; Rosemary Normandin, CRSW, Director of Programs

Third Annual Take a Walk in Our Shoes Recovery Event

MWV Supports Recovery Coalition will hold its third annual Take a Walk in Our Shoes on Sunday, Sept. 17, to bring people together as a community to support and grow the recovery movement in Carroll County.

Teams are forming and pledges are being collected for the event, which now includes two options for walks and a 2.5-hour county-wide motorcycle rideall planned for Sunday, Sept. 17 starting at 10 a.m. and wrapping up at 3 p.m. (the rain date is Sunday Sept. 24). This year’s theme is Recovery Strong!

All walkers and riders receive a free lunch ticket; tickets available for non-participation with a small donation. You don’t have to walk, ride or collect pledges to join the rally.

People can participate in one of two walks between 10 a.m. and noon. One starts at Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice, 1529 White Mountain Highway to Schouler Park; the other starts at Fryeburg Fairgrounds at Swan Fall Road to Stateline Visitor Center.

This year, MWV Supports Recovery added a 2.5-hour county-wide motorcycle ride starting at Scenic Overlook in Intervale going to Abbott and Staples in Ossipee then to Wolfeboro, turning around in the Wolfeboro Chamber parking lot, riding by for a a toot salute White Horse in Center Ossipee then back to North conway on Route 16 to join the rally at Schouler Park.

MWV Supports Recovery invited all county town selectman boards and offices, commissioners, police departments, fire and rescue and the growing organizations supporting the recovery moment, and hopes to have 500 people participate.

In addition to the family style barbecue starting at noon, there will be music, activities for kids, raffle items, inspirational and guest speakers. A presentation to a special family, community member or service provider will also be made.

MWV Supports Recovery is a non-profit grassroots family organization created in 2015. With the supportive help of fiduciary agent Vaughan Community Services, the group has begun the work to enhance recovery options in Carroll County, Western Maine and the Mount Washington Valley.

Since 2015, it has initiated several programs to educate, train and support the recovery movement. At its Center Conway location on 1620 East Main St., MWV Supports Recovery runs a full resource center with recovery coaches — peer support programming like Narcotics Anonymous, along with yoga, family support FASTER and drop in. Endeavor House recovery living for woman will be opening this fall and will house up to eight women in transitional housing.

MWV Supports Recovery is accepting sponsorships for the walk and volunteers to help coordinate the day. If your organization or practice would like to have a resource table at our event please contact us ASAP. There is no charge for participation but space under the tent is limited.

Pledge sheets for individuals and teams are available on the MWV Supports Recovery website at mwvsupportsrecovery.com, or stop in at 1620 East Main St., Center Conway or call the offices at at (603) 662-0668 for more information.

All funds raised will be used to support Endeavor House upgrades and MWV Supports Recovery resource center staff development and operations.

Memorial Hospital Sponsors MWV Supports Recovery

Memorial Hospital’s Vice President of Community Relations Kathy Bennett presented MWV Supports Recovery’s Janice Spinney a sponsorship for their Sept. 17th 3rd Annual Take a Walk in Our Shoes event to support their sober living facility in Center Conway. Memorial Hospital’s New Life prenatal substance abuse program staff will be participating in the event on the 17th to raise awareness of the hospital’s services related to recovery, and to show support for MWVSR’s efforts.

Women on the Streets, MWVSR asks the question: Are you open to recovery?

MWV Supports Recovery now offering services

Mount Washington Valley Supports Recovery has announced it is offering addiction recovery coaching out of its new facility on East Main Street in Center Conway. Meanwhile the group is fundraising to help pay for improvements to the building.

MWV Supports Recovery was founded by Intervale resident Janice Spinney in 2015 to help people overcome substance abuse disorders. It also has organized an annual event, "Take A Walk in Our Shoes," held in various Carroll County towns as well as Fryeburg, Maine, over the past two years.

In September, MWVSR closed on the property at 1620 East Main St., next to the Center Conway United Methodist Church.

The building was formerly owned by The Echo Group, now based in Conway Village, a maker of computer software for behavioral health organizations like drug and alcohol agencies.

The building will house recovery coaching, peer to peer support and in the future a residential recovery home for women, which could possibly open this spring.

The building is now open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. to allow people to meet with coaches who have been trained to engage with people who are seeking recovery or are in the early stages, according to Spinney, the group's board chair, and fellow board member Rose Normandin of Fryeburg, who is also the head recovery coach and board treasurer.

"If you are a person with substance abuse disorder, you can walk in any of those days or call our number an interact with a recovery coach," Spinney said.

MWVSR has six recovery coaches and hopes to have more trained in the spring.

"Six people won't be enough for the community once we get up and running," said Normandin, adding that the coaches will be needed to give the clients attention and to cover the hours.

Recovery coaches not only counsel clients but help them find the resources to help them fight their addiction. Active users' first step would be a three- to five-day stint in medical detox, Spinney and Normandin said. They said people are sent to places like Hampstead Hospital or Concord and Portsmouth area hospitals.

On Thursday nights, the center is hosting a program called Families Advocating Substance Treatment, Education & Recovery where families can get together to share stories and gain information.

Another peer support program will be Drop In meetings for people in recovery and their families. 

Right now, MWVSR is helping about 10 or 12 people per week through its various programs.

Spinney and Normandin said they expect the numbers to grow quickly once word gets out that they are open.

Normandin hopes those in recovery will spread the word to those who are actively using.

Spinney said they also hope to get the word out through places like Memorial Hospital, Saco River Medical Group and Carroll County Coalition for Public Health.

Later this year, MWVSR is planning to open a six- to eight-bed recovery house for women called Endeavor House.

For months, this part of the project was called a "sober living house," but Spinney and Normandin said they prefer the new nomenclature for the residential portion of the facility.

Mothers will be allowed to stay there but not their children. The name "Endeavor House" was chosen by Spinney and approved by the MWVSR's board.

In The News

Mount Washington Valley Supports Recovery Coalition, a local organization dedicated to helping drug addicts, has announced plans to open a sober living home on East Main Street in Center Conway ahead of its second annual awareness walk.

"Talk a Walk in Our Shoes" begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 18 at the Conway Area Overlook in Intervale to Schouler Park. The Fryeburg Area walk starts at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds and goes to the Stateline Visitor Center. A fundraising cookout in North Conway's Schouler Park will follow.

MWVRC recently closed on the old Echo Building, at 1620 East Main St., next to the Center Conway United Methodist Church.

It will be used for office space as well as a residence for addicts trying to stay clean after detox. The coalition mortgaged the building for $200,000 from the Echo Group. The coalition hopes to own the building outright in three years.

"We can finally get down to helping people," said the coalition's founder, Janice Spinney of Intervale. "This is about giving people the opportunity to find recovery here in the community."

The building was formerly owned by The Echo Group, now based in Conway Village. The Echo Group makes computer software for behavioral health organizations like drug and alcohol agencies.

Echo Group Chairman George Epstein said the closing date was Sept. 2.

He believes the building will be an ideal place for the coalition, which will need rooms for residential living, as well as administration and counseling.

 "It's designed for all those things," said Epstein, adding that Echo Group has owned the building for roughly 30 years.

The building will be able to house four to eight people.

Originally, it was planned to be co-ed, but may end up serving only one gender, said Spinney.

There are four bedrooms, and two people would share one room, though that's subject to change depending on intake flow and room availability. The other side of the building would be used for meeting rooms as well as being rented out to service providers. The coalition hopes to open in December or next January.

"It depends how quick we can get the funds to renovate and how quick we can get the general contractors to do the work," said Spinney.

The coalition is applying for grants in addition to holding fundraisers, she said.

As for activities at the park on Sept. 18, in addition to the cookout, there will also be henna tattoos and face painting, a homemade cookie table, a dog treat table, raffles and a resource table with a number of health-care providers. The cookout will be free for the those taking part in the walk, but others will have to pay.

There will also be an activity in which people can decorate shoes for a display near the event tent. The coalition has shoes, glitter, stickers and paint that people can use.

"We ask people to put whatever they want on the shoes, whether it be a picture of a child, a syringe or an AA symbol — anything that symbolizes their recovery on the shoe," said Spinney.

There are big shoes, baby shoes and boots. Materials were donated. For more information, visit the Facebook page for "Take A Walk In Our Shoes Sun Sept 18th."

To sign up for the walk, go to www.mwvsupportsrecovery.org.

Once the sober house is up and running, residents will be required to pay rent and have a job. They will be able to stay for between three and six months. A staff house manager will live on the premises.

"Usually, they are not paid because they run the house, but you can pay them and allow them to have their own job as long as they are maintaining what they need to for the residents," said Spinney about the house manager.

Residents will be screened in the intake process. They must be totally drug-free. Applicants would come to the house after a 14-to-28-day detox program

The former Echo building was originally two homes dating back to the turn of the 20th century. The east wing served as the post office for a time. The Echo Group acquired that portion in 1987 and the home that would become Echo's west wing around 1990, said Epstein.

Echo joined the two buildings together. For a time, it rented it out as a business incubator and also used it as temporary lodging for new employees or customers who came to Conway to visit Echo.

"Otherwise, it has been very empty for five or six years," said Epstein.

Pinkham Real Estate's Greydon Turner said there have been a number of showings at the property over the past few years and that most of the potential buyers wanted to turn the building into apartments. He said it totals around 7,400 square feet.

"We figure it's a very good place for the coalition," said Turner. "There's plenty of space for them to grow as their program takes off."

Several members of the coalition said they became involved in the project because addiction has touched their family.

Chris Spinney, 31, of Conway said he is a former heroin addict who is now two years sober. He moved to Conway at 6 years old and later developed an addiction problem at age 18. By his late 20s, he had a heroin habit.

But he was able to get treatment and is now the author of an e-book series, "Heroin Recovery is Possible."

He said he believes the sober living home will be helpful to Conway because there are more addicts now than in 2014 when he stopped using.

"Recovery is possible, and I'm proof of that," said Chris Spinney. "Just because you are an addict today does not mean you can't in the future become a productive member of society."

The language of ‘addiction’
by Janice Spinney, Founder, MWV Supports Recovery

The language of ‘addiction’ That kid — he is a drug addict, a dirty junkie and a rotten thief. 

Wow, you know what else? That kid is someone’s son, brother or lover. He was a wide receiver on the state college football team. He scored a 1500 on his SAT. That kid, he left four fingers in Afghanistan. That kid is a hard-working construction laborer. That kid went to jail for dealing drugs. He goes to Narcotics Anonymous. He was a recovering drug addict. That kid fell off the wagon. He always tested dirty. You know that kid — he died of an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. 

Let’s re-write this paragraph a bit: That young man was a “person with a substance use disorder” He was a member of this community. He served our country. He had unfathomable potential. He was a person seeking recovery. He tested substance free in his last screen. He made restitution for his actions. He was my friend in a 12-step fellowship. This young man died after a long battle with substance use disorder. 

The language and messaging of addiction (SUD — substance use disorder) is vile and demeaning. Undertaking the change in language is a monumental task. 

We are bombarded with media messaging that sensationalizes the negative. Locally, our media has made real positive contributions in recognizing that people are seeking recovery. They have given air and print space to efforts support recovery, but we still have a long way to go. The front page and the leading stories in print and on radio are still arrest and court scenes of someone with SUD and in our community, and in most cases, OUD (opiate use disorder). 

If all we see or hear about a person with SUD is the crime they commit or the horrific abuses they afflict on themselves or their loved ones, then we lose sight of that young man. We dehumanize him. By making a simple change, we see the kid as a person fi rst by allowing him (or her) to be a human part of society, not a shadow on its fringe, not a criminal and not a person of weakness or moral failing. 

A person with SUD is no different than a person battling cancer, MS, heart disease, a metabolic disturbance, or a person with a mental health disorder. Some argue that addiction is not a disease. This debate will play on in medicine, psychiatry, psychology and in the mainstream, but remember: No one ever woke up one morning and proclaimed, “I want to be an IV drug user, I want to steal from my family and live in a tent in February.” There may be a genetic pre-disposition to addiction; there may be an unresolved trauma that occurred and they are killing emotional pain. Maybe one did not learn proper coping skills, or has a co-occurring mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Or maybe, just maybe, it began innocently with a prescribed opiate. Regardless of how one arrived at the point, they are so dependent on a substance that the drive to use overrides one’s moral, parental and basic self-care. 

Last month, a colleague and I traveled to the Seacoast to visit programs of recovery. The professionals we spoke with used a very different language than we were use to. They were eloquent in their speech and thoughtful in the words they chose in conversation. They are miles ahead of the smaller communities in combating the stigma and negative language around substance use disorder. 

SUD is a disease — the person is not the disease. Addict, alcoholic, junkie, druggie, tweeker — all of these terms identify the person in a negative light in the eyes of society. With the exception of 12-step work, the act of proclaiming one is a drug addict or alcoholic (step one) initiates an understanding that one admits they have this disorder, removing denial so the work can begin. 

This March a Partnership for a Drug Free N.H. rolled out Speak Up N.H. The message is to stamp out shame and stigma, to talk openly and honestly about substance use disorder in our community and to cheer on those seeking recovery. The message aims to change the way we think and talk about addiction. 

MWV Supports Recovery opened its office last month as a RCO — Recovery Community Organization. We have resources for anyone seeking a recovery path. We are training recovery coaches to engage individuals and families with substance use disorder, and we are working with almost every sector in this community to bring recovery support programs to the valley. We are open to the public Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we have a calendar of programs for those in recovery and those supporting recovery to participate in. 

MWV Supports Recovery Coalition, located at 1620 Main Street in Center Conway. For more information, go to mwvsupportsrecovery.org or call us at  (603) 452-7794.

MWV Supports Recovery holding hosting a Community Forum, "Save A Life, Change A Path"

MWV Supports Recovery is hosting a Community Forum, "Save A Life, Change A Path," with screening of the documentary "Cycle: An Addiction Story," which was filmed here in Carroll County, followed by a panel of local experts leading a community discussion of the issues in our county. The forum will take place at the North Conway Community Center, 2628 White Mountain Hwy, North Conway, today from 5-8 p.m.

The panel will include Janice Spinney, Conway Police Detective Chris Mattei, Emily Benson from United Way Public Health, and Eric Moran and Yvonne Meisner from White Horse Recovery in Ossipee. Several local state representatives also may attend.

Prior to the film, Carroll County Coalition for Public Health will provide a brief training and demonstration of how to administer naloxone to members of the general public from 5-6 p.m. Those individuals successfully completing the training will be given a kit containing two doses of naloxone at no cost.

The naloxone is being provided by the New Hamphire Department of Health and Human Services.

The documentary screening and open discussion are set to take place from 6-8 p.m. A $3 donation per person is requested.

If you would like more information, contact Janice Spinney at MWV Supports Recovery by email at mwvaddictionsupport@gmail.com or by phone 603-662-0668. You can find the MWV Supports Recovery on Facebook, Twitter, and on the Web at www.mwvsupportsrecovery.org.

The forum is made possible by a grant from the N.H. Charitable Foundation and Green Granite Foundation, North Conway.

Soups & Songs raises nearly $1,500 for Memorial Hospital’s A New Life Program, MWV Supports Recovery
~Conway Daily Sun

CONWAY — Soups & Songs, the second annual dinner and concert fundraiser for recovery services in the Mount Washington Valley, raised nearly $1,500 to benefit Memorial Hospital’s A New Life Program and MWV Supports Recovery.

The event was held earlier this month at the Center Conway United Methodist Church; attendees were treated to a concert and communal dinner.

Kathy Bennett, Thom Perkins and Taylor Whiteside performed a concert of original folk and Americana music. Homemade soups and entrees were served in home-thrown pottery bowls made by local artist Jenny Lanoie and her students. 

A New Life, launched three years ago at Memorial, offers a structured, comprehensive program that promotes a coordinated, centralized care approach. By linking the midwifery/obstetric care and more involved treatment for substance use disorder, it improves the coordination of care, the patient experience, ongoing maternal success and newborn health. Pregnancy often becomes a time when women struggling with addiction have new motivation to address their problems. For more information, go to memorialhospitalnh.org/anewlife.

MWV Supports Recovery combines transitional sober living with continued support. This helps women transition to a sober lifestyle after completing primary or extended residential treatment.

This program allows a more complete exploration of the issues that fuel drug and alcohol addiction, and opens the door to a shared understanding of how these problems affect women. This type of environment has a high rate of success in both recovery and relapse deterrence rates.

For more information, go to mwvsupportsrecovery.org.