FAIRMONT – After months of preparation, the Friendship Fairmont peer recovery center opened downtown with part-time hours Tuesday morning.
Its an initiative of the Morgantown-based Milan Puskar Health Right, which modeled Friendship Fairmont after its successful Friendship House in Morgantown.
“It feels wonderful just to have a safe place for people to come,” said Rochelle Satterfield, Health Right program coordinator for Friendship Fairmont. “We just want people to know we’re here and that we’re available to help or provide shelter.”
Located on the fourth floor of the Marion County Courthouse Annex, Friendship Fairmont serves as a place for individuals to go to find solace, a meal or shelter. However, the center also offers counseling and referral services for individuals who are homeless or living with substance use disorder.
“I’m sure when the colder temperatures come in, that people will come in and get warm and have a place to go,” Satterfield said. “It’s about getting the word out.”
Friendship Fairmont is an
outgrowth of monthly community discussions that began last January with meetings of community leaders that were held at First Presbyterian Church of Fairmont. Health Right got involved and offered to set up the room and stakeholders began falling in line to make the room come to fruition.
On Tuesday, two volunteers also remained on at the center to introduce themselves, and also talk about what role they will play at the center going forward.
“She asked their volunteers to come and just be here,” said Cathy Reed, a volunteer at Friendship Fairmont. “So that if there were individuals here, that somebody can just sit and be listening.”
Volunteers will also be present for scheduled recovery sessions, where people can share their feelings in an open forum session. These sessions will help people in different situations, and will be led by a volunteer for Friendship Fairmont.
“For 12-step recovery, we’re going to run a meeting from 10-11 on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Bill Bradley, a volunteer at Friendship Fairmont. “It’s the only daytime recovery meeting in Marion County.”
Satterfield said the volunteers will be an integral part to the daily operations of Friendship Fairmont, and she is looking for more people to get involved and help with different educational sessions. Reed agreed.
“Anyone in the community can come and do a craft class or do a music class,” Reed said. “I’m going to be coming other weeks just to help out if I need to.”
While turnout at the room was slow Tuesday, Satterfield believes traffic will pick up once those in need realize that Friendship Fairmont is a safe space to go to, and a place that will ultimately help them through their situation. Right now, she said, it’s about being that resource.
“I’ll be doing outreach and going to local business and services to let them know that we’re open part-time,” Satterfield said. “We’re definitely open to hearing what the community concerns are and what they would like to do while they’re either looking for employment or looking for some warmth on a cold day.”
Earlier this month, Rev. DD Meighen, one of the community leaders who helped spearhead Friendship Fairmont, held an event downtown to allow residents and business leaders to sign a “Pledge of Reconciliation” vowing to support Friendship Fairmont and downtown businesses during the holiday shopping season.
Many members of the business and government community have voiced skepticism about Friendship Fairmont in recent months. Some argue that it is in a bad location while others said they hope the center works and proves them wrong.