Monday, 21 September 2020

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, problems with substances, 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, ableism, transphobia, transmisogyny, 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





Employment Supports

Although the Western Mass RLC does not specifically offer job searching and training supports, we do partner with people as possible to look for resources, explore and try out new ideas, and develop related skills.  Sometimes these activities occur through more formal groups and workshops, and other times they happen through individual peer-to-peer support and connections made in community.
lead_deirdreIn some instances, the RLC community has played a role in supporting people who have been succesful in developing their own small businesses, recording original music, and creating and displaying artwork.  Many have also moved on to a variety of competitive employment positions based, in part, on skills learned and supports received through the RLC.
The fundamental values underlying all our work in this area includes:
  • Self-determination
  • Increasing access to opportunity
  • The importance of valued roles in healing and in life
  • The individual as the expert on themselves
  • Building bridges to community
Ultimately, we believe that each person's inspiration, creativity, passion, goals and interests can guide them to the roles that will have the most meaning and impact in their lives, and that employment supports needn't be limited to only those options that seem obvious in the moment.

Full application: Word version     PDF version
Re-application (for past grantees who are applying for continued funding for the same project): Word version     PDF version
* PLEASE NOTE: Information sessions are being held on-line at this time. Please view the full application for dates, times, and registration information.
Due dates for applications has been updated to July 24th, 2020! See application for details.
Have an idea for a small business or independent project? Now is the time of year when we once again start accepting grant applications to help you move your ideas forward.
Funds for this project are very limited, and successful candidates will be those who:
  • Live in Western Massachusetts
  • Have been personally impacted by psychiatric diagnosis, extreme states, trauma and other challenges that have gotten in the way of their ability to explore and achieve their dreams
  • Have a clear vision for your business or independent project
  • Are self-driven and motivated to reach project goals
  • Are not an employee of the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community or the Western Mass Training Consortium, and are not an immediate relative of an employee.

Our funds for Career Initiative Grants are very limited.

Want to donate to increase our ability to give more/larger grants? Click the link below!




Career Initiatives



Career Initatives Grant Applications are NOW available for the 2015-2016 cycle!!!!

Click HERE for the full application in PDF format or HERE if you'd prefer it in Word.

If you are a past grantee who is applying to continue your project, you can also click HERE for the re-application form.


Career Initiatives provides opportunities for people who have personal experience with psychiatric diagnosis, extreme emotional distress, and /or trauma to start their own small businesses, self initiatied projects, or pursue self-employment. Career Initiatives offers individuals the opportunity to apply for seed money to support their endeavors.


Examples of successful Career Initiatives that are now self-sustained include:

An art gallery that provides opportunities to those with psychiatric diagnoses
Tutor Service Dogs
A business that trains service animals in Greenfield.
Eliot Cardinaux, classical/jazz pianist and poet, utilized much of his funds from his Career Initiatives grant to record a new album. His most recent work combines both his poetry and his piano playing within a quartet setting. The results are a wonderful experiment in improvisation and exploration.
Check back soon to hear the finished work and follow Eliot's musical paths!
Until then check out some goodies from Eliot below.
Or check out Eliot performing "Reflections for a Princess" at the Anchor House of Artists:



Career Explorations

Career Explorations offers opportunities for young people between the ages of 16 and their mid-twenties to explore career possibilities that link personal aspirations to real world job experiences.
In the summer of 2014, Career Explorations focused on connecting young people with real world experience in building websites. The RLC's Greenfield space was home to the Tech Scouts program and mentored by Bram Moreinis. Tech scouts brings teens and young adults together for IT service learning. The Scouts came together as high functioning teams and finished all three major projects they took on successfully: providing website design, development and support for The Recover Project, Girls Club of Greenfield and FH Youth to Work.


Tech Scouts Group Photo

Career Explorations will create opportunities for you to:

  • Work independently and as a team
  • Learn new skills to reach goals
  • Gain hands-on experience
  • Practice interviewing techniques
  • Establish references
  • Create a resume
  • Network
For more information, contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Check out this short film about Tech Scouts!


And here are before and after shots of a Tech Scout project:


 TECH SCOUTS Girls Club of Greenfield BEFORE shot
TECH SCOUTS Girls Club of Greenfield AFTER shot



Women's Idea Factory

Page in progress




For More Information, Contact LEAD Director, Danielle Niedzwiecki
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(413) 536-2401 ext. 3011

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