I would like to respond to the news article that appeared on Feb. 11, entitled, “Waterville Peer Recovery Center to Close.” As a member of the Waterville Peer Recovery Center (WPRC) from its beginning and the vice chair of the Advisory Council, I have an opinion.

Yes, there had been declining participation at WPRC programming, which included many groups that offered wonderful peer support to its members. It is sad that the building will be sold and services ended. This decision was made by the NAMI board and the peers had no part, which is strange because the WPRC was supposedly a peer-run center. For the past several months there has only been one peer support staff person, who has done a good job. I enjoyed getting to know her through the Zoom meetings she hosted.

The article said, “I think it’s going to be a smooth transition.” I do appreciate LINC taking over one Zoom meeting I’ve been participating in since before the pandemic began, however, I would change “smooth” to “necessary,” in that it should have occurred several years ago. I have been told that NAMI now admits that it could have done a better job managing the WPRC, but the transition should have happened before the pandemic and then maybe the WPRC would not have been closed.

What was the WPRC?  As the article said, it took over programming on Ticonic Street when the Waterville Social Club (WSC) closed. WPRC was different than WSC for several reasons. All staff were trained Peer Support Workers, which means they self-identified as persons who live with mental health challenges themselves and therefore were able to understand issues the members were living with.

A concept important to peer support centers in the state of Maine is that most decisions are made by members and peer staff. For the past two years that was not happening at WPRC.

Don Banton


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