Welcome to the Western Mass Recovering Learning Community
The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) creates conditions that support healing and growth for individuals and the community as a whole through learning opportunities, advocacy, peer-to-peer support and the development of regional and national networks. We believe that human relationships are often at the center of what heal people who have experienced extreme emotional distress, trauma, psychiatric diagnoses, addiction and a variety of other challenges in life. We also believe that we are a part of a civil and human rights movement and that real change does not happen on a sustainable level unless everyone is involved in the process and issues like discrimination, poverty, imbalances of power and acceptance of natural diversity are addressed.
The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) is made up of PEOPLE (not places) and is wherever and however YOU and others from the community may choose to connect. Together, we offer a variety of events, workshops, trainings, advocacy and leadership councils, as well as a peer support line, four resource centers (Springfield, Greenfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield) and a Peer Respite in Northampton. Above all else, we create space for anyone who has a genuine interest in taking part in our community and holding its values to share and find connection, information, ideas and opportunities to make change in their own lives and/or the community around them. Our shared experiences and ‘humanness’ are what unite us. Our stories, collective wisdom and strength are what guide us and our community forward.
Nonetheless, we’ve heard multiple stories of people losing access (or having access substantially limited) to their personal belongings in the last week alone. When we hear these sorts of complaints, the two most frequent justifications that programs have offered include:
- House-wide behavioral plans that people reportedly agree to when they move in
- General health concerns (e.g., someone drinks “too much soda,” etc.)
That statement in the DMH handbook is footnoted as having been drawn from Massachusetts General Law Chapter 123, Section 23 which reads:
“… a mentally ill person in the care of the department shall have the following legal and civil rights: to wear his own clothes, to keep and use his own personal possessions including toilet articles, to keep and be allowed to spend a reasonable sum of his own money for canteen expenses and small purchases, to have access to individual storage space for his private use, to refuse shock treatment, to refuse lobotomy, and any other rights specified in the regulations of the department; provided, however, that any of these rights may be denied for good cause by the superintendent or his designee and a statement of the reasons for any such denial entered in the treatment record of such person.” (www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXVII/Chapter123/Section23 )
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In early February, a group consisting of RLC team members, Guiding Council Delegates and community members met to reflect on what the RLC has been doing, and how the Guiding Council - our advisory board - can help us to accomplish even more. Many, many ideas were tossed around.
The Guiding Council has quite a lot to think about! For example: The council hopes to find ways to build on the success of Afiya House, our respite house based in Northampton. Demand for Afiya has skyrocketed! Can we open another house? Are there other ways to support people in crisis or distress?
If projects like this excite you, come help us make them a reality! The Guiding Council meets monthly (usually the first Monday of the month), on Monday afternoons from 1 to 3pm. All are welcome to join the conversation.
Have you ever stayed at Afiya House, our respite based in Northampton?
This is your chance!
The Guiding Council is looking for feedback - stories, testimonials, quick blurbs - about how Afiya is making a difference. For many of us, moments of "crisis" have been times when we have lost control, when other people have stepped in and taken control of us. How is the experience of Afiya different? We want to be able to say:
Yes, Afiya is working! Please help us make it even better!
The Alternative Series Perspectives Series Presents "There is a Fault in Reality" with Peter Bullimore
In ‘There is a Fault in Reality,’ writer, director and psychotherapist Tom Cotton explores the stories of three people – Jon Swift, Peter Bullimore and Jacqui Dillon, who’ve all battled with the diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ in different ways, and with varying outcomes. Through them, we enter a detailed insider’s view of ‘schizophrenia’, which bears little resemblance to what we think we know. As their stories unfold, the voices they hear are revealed to have clear meaning, and to have identities that are anything but ‘mad.’
Wednesday, March 26th, 4 to 6pm
@ Center for Human Development,
332 Birnie Ave, Springfield
Co-sponsored by the WMRLC &
the Center for Human Development
Friday, March 28th, 12:30 to 2:30pm
@ RLC’s Pittsfield Center,
152 North Street, Suite 230, Pittsfield
Thursday, March 27th, 2 to 4pm
@ Advocates, Inc.
1881 Worcester Rd, Framingham
Co-sponsored by the WMRLC & Advocates.
ASL interpreters scheduled.
Friday, March 28th, 5:30 to 7:30pm
@ the RPX, One Osgood Street, Greenfield
(behind RLC’s Greenfield Center & the Recover Project)
Friday, March 7th, 6-8pm with a reading at 7pm
RLC’s Greenfield Center,
74 Federal Street
Come enjoy a relaxed evening and celebrate the work of Laura Gail, our local featured artist of the Peer Art Series: Life Systems.
When the side effects of medication reduced her ability to write, she began to explore fiber arts. The Linens Project is the marriage of Laura Gail’s poetry and fiber art.
At 7pm, other artists will be reciting Laura’s poetry, embroidered on antique linens and hanging on the walls.
Light refreshments will be offered. Laura’s art will be displayed from March through May at the Greenfield center.