Turning Point of Franklin County in St. Albans, 1-5-2020

The Turning Point of Franklin County’s recovery center along Lake Street in St. Albans.

ENOSBURGH — Turning Point of Franklin County opened its Enosburgh center in July 2019. That first month, 37 people visited the Enosburgh center.

Then, in August, 57 people visited. More people came in September, around 73.

And Karen Heinlein-Grenier, Turning Point of Franklin County’s executive director, told the Messenger that volume of visitors remains steady.

But Heinlein-Grenier said that’s no surprise given the need in that area of the county. She said Turning Point’s central Franklin County office, on Lake Street in St. Albans, has received “so many calls” in the past eight years from people in the Enosburgh and Richford area seeking recovery support from substance use disorders.

The St. Albans office had received so many calls by the end of 2018 heading into 2019 that Heinlein-Grenier said, “Let’s just see if there’s a place available.”

That’s when she learned of the soon-to-be-opened Enosburgh Community Center. The Messenger extensively reported the community center’s development, from its proposal by the Enosburgh Community Recreation Committee in October 2018 to its rapid realization in a house used for storage adjacent to the Cold Hollow Career Center on Missisquoi Street.

The community center opened that February, mere months after it was just an idea.

Heinlein-Grenier said she reached out to ECRC chair Ivonne Kio upon learning of the then-forthcoming community center and set up a meeting. Well, a few meetings — Heinlein-Grenier said every time she planned to drive out to Enosburgh and meet Kio, an ice storm struck, leading to months of “phone tag.”

But the two finally met that April. Shortly thereafter, Heinlein-Grenier said, Kio’s board offered Turning Point office space in the community center at a “generous price.”

“They’ve just been great to work with,” Heinlein-Grenier said.

Turning Point’s Enosburgh office was initially open just one day a week — which might make the numbers above that much more impressive.

How did Turning Point immediately generate those visits with just one open day per week? The old-fashioned way: Heinlein-Grenier said Turning Point staffer Maria Carlson conducted a whirlwind community tour, visiting the local Northern Tier Center for Health office, talking to local businesses, the CHCC, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and paramedics servicing the area.

“That’s the best way to spread that word,” Heinlein-Grenier said. “Because everybody knows somebody.”

The Enosburgh center had been open less than a month when, Heinlein-Grenier said, the Vermont Community Foundation called. She said VCF representatives told her the organization had extensively researched Turning Point of Franklin County’s background and wanted to support its work.

“They said, ‘What do you need? What would you like?’” Heinlein-Grenier remembered. “And I just thought, ‘Enosburgh.’”

VCF reps sent grant opportunities — and just this past week, as the Messenger reported, the VCF awarded Turning Point of Franklin County about $18,000 to open Turning Point’s Enosburgh center for a second day.

“We’re very fortunate,” Heinlein-Grenier said. “We’re very thankful.”

Now the Enosburgh center is open Thursdays and Fridays upstairs in the community center.

All its services are free.

Those services include peer recovery support all day, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday.

The “Rewired” recovery workshop starts at 10 a.m. on Thursdays, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at 12 p.m.

The “Recover in Color” support group begins at 9 a.m. on Fridays, with a recovery book support at 12 p.m.

Heinlein-Grenier said transportation was the biggest obstacle for many struggling to recover in the Enosburgh and Richford area, both isolated communities on the county’s outskirts.

“The need is really there,” she said. “There’s very little recovery support in those areas.”

And while Heinlein-Grenier said any recovery space is valuable, she also said the Enosburgh Community Center is uniquely warm. Volunteers extensively restored the building, not just cleaning it up but painting and similar cosmetic work that continues to this day.

“Everybody deserves a really great location to meet,” Heinlein-Grenier said. “It’s really hard to step out anyway.”

To contact Turning Point, call its central office: 782-8454.

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