CMHA's new facility aims to provide a safe space for those battling mental illness and addiction

Published on Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:38
Written by Ciara Hooks


NEW BRITAIN - Community Mental Health Affiliates, a private nonprofit treatment provider, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of its newly renovated Team Time Social Club facility, at 26 Russell St., Tuesday morning.

“I think this is more than cutting a ribbon at a new location; it’s giving a lot of people who are in recovery hope that they have somewhere to go, be appreciated, valued and cared for,” said Mayor Erin Stewart, who attended the event.

The property was already owned by CMHA, headquartered at 233 Main St., and four years ago the organization decided to make this the new home and central location for its members. The center is a safe space where those recovering from addiction or those seeking counseling for mental health issues can find help, support or just a place to socialize.

“It (the building) was in a perfect location for the club because the members could go downtown and come back here,” said Raymond J. Gorman, CMHA President and CEO. “This is their social club and this is such a powerful tool for them because in many cases this is their family.”

“This is like my second home. The staff is awesome. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I’m at now in my recovery,” said Louise Patterson, a member for the past 18 years.

“One of the great contributions of CMHA is to make people understand that mental health recovery is no different than shoulder cut recovery and we should treat it in the same way without any hint of stigma, without any repercussions in the workplace or community. And what this center is saying to the world is no one suffering from depression or any mental health illness is alone,” said U.S Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday.

In 2017, CMHA began building the 12,000 square foot safe space designed by and for the members with the help of Svigals + Partners architects. It includes an educational kitchen, dining hall, food pantry, community rooms, individual meeting rooms, computer lab, movie room and gymnasium.

“Just that alone: the members being involved and there being a back and forth with the architect is something that we talk about in regards to recovery and citizenship,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services commissioner.

There are close to 250 adult clients from the CMHA program that drop by this location There are about four councilors that offer advocacy and peer support to people in recovery from substance abuse and/or mental illness. The members come up with the activities and trips and the councilors help them execute them.

This nearly $5 million project was made possible by $2.5 million in state bond funds with the support of late state Rep. Elizabeth A. “Betty” Boukus and a memorial library was featured in Boukus’s honor. The City of New Britain, State of Connecticut nonprofit bond funds and Webster Bank contributed as well. But CMHA had to raise $1 million to cover the rest of the project costs.

“This is awesome. I think they might have every member of the Team Time here, which is great. I think that it is a beautiful facility and there’s going to be a lot of lives that are changed for the better in this location,” exclaimed Stewart.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:38. Updated: Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:41.