Friday, 25 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





Community Gives On-Line Prize Winners!

Thank You Many LanguagesThank you to everyone who donated to during our on-line Community Gives week (and beyond!). A special thank you and congrats to our prize winners:

$50 Amazon Gift Card: Luke P from Great Barrington, MA

$30 Barnes & Noble Gift Card: Audrey H from Somerville, MA

$100 Spafinder Gift Card: Alison B from South Hadley, MA

$50 Bath & Body Works Gift Card: Phyllis S from Granby, MA

$35 Dunkin Donuts Gift Card: Vanessa H from Shrewsbury, MA

$100 Darden Gift Card: Laura C from Northampton, MA

$50 Target Gift Card: Tom R from Hamden, CT

Community Gives Week Begins TODAY!

Community Gives Week begins TODAY, Monday, November 16th and runs through Sunday, November 22nd.

Any donations that come in today to our Yourcaring.com fundraising page will be in the running for a $100 Darden gift card good for use at Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and more!* (Stay tuned each day of Community Gives Week to learn the prize for that day!)

The mission of Community Gives Week is to save the RLC's Greenfield Center which is slated to lose its funding as of the end of the calendar year. (Any amounts raised over and above what is needed to keep the center running will go toward expansion of supports which may include additional open hours, bridging and connection building with individuals at the local partial and inpatient hospital units, and so on.)

If you haven't already seen it, be sure to take a look at our short video about Greenfield and all that we're trying to save:


And don't forget to join us at today's kick off open house and concert event! (See more details here!)

*Please note: Donations of any amount are welcome and will be included in the running for the above stated prize. There is only one $100 gift card available, and so there will be only one winner drawn from all donations given for the stated period of time. The winner will be selected by random draw on the following day and notified by e-mail. Additionally, anyone who donated between November 1 and November 15 will also be counted as in the running for Day 1's prize. Donations made in person, by mail or by any method other than the Youcaring page are very much welcome and appreciated, but will not be considered for the prize drawing. Donations can be made by mail to Western Mass RLC, 187 High Street, Suite 202, Holyoke, MA, 01040. Please be sure to note 'for the Greenfield Center' on the memo line and make all checks payable to our umbrella, the Western Mass Training Consortium.)


The RLC now offers a new 'STOP THE MURPHY BILL' website page including:STOP the Murphy Bill
  • An overview of the Murphy Bill
  • Ways you can take action to STOP the Murphy Bill
  • A variety of related blogs and articles

More on the Bill:

In early June, an updated version of ‘Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis’ Act (HR 2646) was re-introduced by Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania to the United States Congress. Not surprisingly, the response to this controversial legislation has been mixed. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has fairly consistently come out in favor of bills that prioritize families and attempt to implement measures that increase access to force over their struggling relatives. In fact, the New York chapter of NAMI gave Murphy an award for his legislative advocacy just last year (following the release of the first version of the Murphy Bill). Fortunately, those in opposition took that opportunity to get vocal and protest the award ceremony, gaining some publicity for the efforts to prevent the Bill from passing.

NAMI now continues to show support as demonstrated by a letter from their Executive Director, Mary Gilberti, to Murphy himself (available by clicking here) congratulating him for taking steps to “improve mental health treatment, services and supports across the United States.” 

NAMI’s letter was disappointing, but not a shock. Much more surprising was the testimony of Paul Gionfriddo (new President and CEO of Mental Health America (MHA) at the recent Murphy Bill hearing. MHA had previously been known for its consistent (and even outspoken) opposition to the Murphy Bill and other force-related legislation. Gionfriddo, however, is best known for using MHA as a platform from which to promote the idea of ‘four stages of mental illness’ and authoring a book (“Losing Tim”) where he details his own son’s experience with psychiatric diagnosis and homelessness. It would appear that, in his testimony, he spoke not only for himself, but also for MHA (an organization with historic roots in the movement) when professing his “full support.” His testimony is also available on our website: http://www.westernmassrlc.org/images/stories/Testimony-HE-Gionfriddo-H.R.2646-Mental-Health-2015-6-16.pdf.

Read more: New 'STOP THE MURPHY BILL' Website Page


The RLC's Holyoke Center, 199 High Street, Holyoke
Tel: (413) 539-5941 or toll free (866) 641-2853
Fax: 413-493-7810
Monday through Thursday: 12pm - 4pm
Friday through Sunday: Closed
The Western Mass RLC’s Holyoke Center is now fully open in our new space at 199 High Street. Come check it out! We will be having an official Grand Opening Event on January 17th (snow date January 24th).
We've moved to a more accessible street-level, storefront space at 199 High Street. We're excited about this move, and hope it will help more people discover our community. This is a bittersweet moment, as this is the first center we ever opened and we’re sad to leave it behind, even though we’ve wanted to move for quite some time.
It's important to remember that the RLC is NOT all about spaces, and that our community (including events, classes and more) exists wherever people from our community may go. Please check our calendar (click here), website and Facebook page (click here) for updates!
Some Holyoke Center history:
The Western Mass RLC's Holyoke Center was the first to open, back in July of 2007. Located on the third floor of the Caledonian building on High Street in Holyoke, the center was in the same building as the Massachusetts Rehabilitation's Holyoke offices and across the street from the Social Security Administration. The center offered a variety of supports, including peer support by phone and in person, a computer lab with five computers, a lending library and a variety of workshops, community meetings and other activities.  Each room was also dedicated to someone who has touched the lives of our community through their advocacy, courage and compassion. Above all else, it was intended to create a safe space within which our community can come together, heal, share, support, learn from and strengthen one another.  
It is important to remember that the RLC is NOT all about spaces and that our community (including events, classes and more) exists wherever people from our community may go. So, be sure to check our calendar for events and opportunities occurring in the the Holyoke area outside of the center!
Western Mass RLC's Holyoke Center
199 High Street, Holyoke
*  Some meetings, workshops and groups occur outside of regular open hours. 
Be sure to check the monthly calendar for the most up-to-date information!

calendar standing


Our Greenfield Center is located at 20 Chapman Street in Greenfield.Greenfield Painting Project

The RLC is not all about spaces; our community exists wherever people from our community may go. So, be sure to check our calendar for events happening in the the Greenfield area outside of the center.

You can view the online calendar by clicking here.

Mondays and Wednesdays 12:30-3:30
Fridays 1pm - 5pm
* Some meetings, workshops and groups occur outside of regular open hours. Be sure to check the monthly calendar for the most up-to-date information!
You can view the online calendar by clicking here.
CONTACT(413) 772-0715.
jeanmarieThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or join us on Facebook:
Some Greenfield Center history: 
The Western Mass RLC moved into their independent center space in July of 2011, having previously shared space next door with the Recover Project. Located on Federal Street near the heart of downtown Greenfield, the space offers access to peer support by phone and in person, access to a resource computer and a lending library, and a variety of workshops, community meetings and other activities. Above all else, it is intended to offer a safe space within which our community can come together, heal, share, support, learn from and strengthen one another.

The Western Mass RLC space was a former comic book store that needed a lot of work when first acquired. However, both the RECOVER Project and RLC came together to paint, lay new floors, make repairs and create a warm and welcoming space that speaks directly to the power of community. 

It is important to remember that the RLC is NOT all about spaces and that our community (including events, classes and more) exists wherever people from our community may go. So, be sure to check our calendar for events and opportunities occurring in the the Greenfield area outside of the center.


Plaque Berkshire County RLCOPEN HOURS:

Mondays, 1pm - 4pm, at 150 North Street, Suite 28, Room 1, in Pittsfield.
We're on the second floor next to the elevator.

We don't have a center in Berkshire County at the moment, though we're working on it! Meetings for now will continue to take place at various local spots. Check our calendar for current groups and locations by clicking here.

Join us for our Alternatives to Suicide Support Group, Yoga, General Peer Support Group, and Hearing Voices Support Group, as well as our open hours - come on in and sit down if you like, talk with other community members, or just use the space for your own peace and quiet. The space is open to all.

For more information about anything Pittsfield-related, please contact Jean-Marie: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Some Pittsfield Center history:

The Western Mass RLC's Berkshire County Center was first based in donated space at the St. Stephen's Parish before finding an independent spot on North Street next to Pancho's Restaurant in Pittsfield.

View our full monthly calendar by clicking here.

calendar standing


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  • The Murphy Bills and Beyond

    In June of 2015, Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania re-introduced the "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act" (HR 2646), better known as the Murphy Bill.  A month later, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut introduced a very similar bill in the Senate called the "Mental Health Reform Act of 2015" (S2680).  Both pieces of legislation threatened to dramatically increase the use of force and dismantle many of the more progressive and healing alternatives that have been developed in recent years. As of November 2016 the fate of both bills remained uncertain.

    Meanwhile, another piece of legislation called 21st Century Cures was in development and garnering increasing bipartisan support. A sweeping and expansive healthcare bill, 21st Century Cures was, initially, minimally focused on mental health provisions. Having been stalled in part due to resistance from Senate Democrats' concerns that the bill was dangerously empowering for the pharmaceutical industry, 21st Century Cures also faced an uncertain fate in November. However, the election of President Trump and consequent fears for the bill’s fate prompted a reworking of the bill that also included the absorption of many aspects of HR 2646, “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis.”

    21st Century Cures was passed by the House and Senate on November 30th and December 7th of last year, respectively. On December 13, 21st Century Cures (now including substantial portions drawn directly from HR 2646, "Helping Familties in Mental Health Crisis") was signed into law by President Obama. 



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