Friday, 20 July 2018

Welcome to the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community



The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) supports healing and empowerment for our broader communities and people who have been impacted by psychiatric diagnosis, trauma, extreme states, homelessness, addiction and other life-interrupting challenges through:

  • Peer-to-peer support & genuine human relationships
  • Alternative Healing Practices
  • Learning Opportunities
  • Advocacy

Essential to our work is recognizing and undoing systemic injustices such as racism, sexism, transphobia and psychiatric oppression.


The 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, three resource centers (Springfield, Greenfield, and Holyoke) 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.    


The Recovery Learning Community (RLC) is a peer-run project providing supports to individuals with lived experience.  One of the founding concepts behind the RLC is that human relationships with people are healing, particularly when those people have similar experiences.  And so, above all else, the RLC strives to create forums through which human relationships, community and a regional network of supports can develop.  On a day-to-day basis, that effort may take the form of a community meeting, a support group, a computer workshop and/or simply offering a safe space where people can communicate with others or simply be.  The RLC also acts a clearing house for information about other resources in the community.   

 The Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community is funded, in part, by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the United Way of Franklin County, and a variety of private foundations and donations.liveunited logo



Western Mass Peer Network Awards Banquet


On Friday, May 12, 2017 the Western Mass Peer Network hosted its second awards banquet recognizing the power of peer rolesmonique (and those behind them) in the region. This year’s banquet welcomed over 100 people, including Representative John Velis (Westfield), and Representative Susannah Whipps (Franklin County), as well as Jon Gould on behalf of Senator Adam Hind’s office.

The event’s host was Monique Flynn, who works in a peer role at Mental Health Association in Springfield. Monique also received the ‘Change Agent’ award!

To kick off the banquet, Darby Penney joined us from New York State to offer a keynote entitled ‘Nothing About Us Without Us: Leading From Experience, Resisting Co-Optation.’ Some of her closing recommendations to providers aiming to support peer roles included:

▪ Learn about movement history and valuesdarby
▪ Make good-faith efforts to change attitudes
▪ Ensure people with psychiatric histories are at the table right from the beginning and in meaningful roles
▪ Value their contributions financially
▪ And take them seriously!

Directly following Darby’s talk, Monique kicked off the awards portion of the event. Award winners included:

Innovation Award: Jeannie Bass (Tewksbury State Hospital) and Caroline White (Western Mass RLC) 
Exceptional Volunteerism Award: Maria Santiago (Western Mass RLC)
Social Justice Award: Michaelann Bewsee (Arise for Social Justice)
Ally Award: Nancy Murphy (Disability Law Center)
Change Agent Award: Monique Flynn (Mental Health Association)
Living the Values Award: Erin Levesque (Western Mass RLC)
Hero Award: Martha Barbone (Transformation Center)
Turntable Award: Susan Sprung (Department of Mental Health)

Thank you to all of the event sponsors: The Western Mass RLC, the Carson Center, the Behavioral Health Network, Clinical & Support Options, and the Brien Center!

wmpn pics 2



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