|Frequently Asked Questions|
The Recovery Learning Community (RLC) creates conditions that support recovery and wellness at both the individual and community level through trauma-sensitive peer supports and the development of a regional network. 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, 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, trainings and learning opportunities, social events, a computer workshop and/or simply offering a safe space where people can communicate with others or simply be. The RLC also acts as a clearing house for information about other resources in the community and as a consultant to other organizations and groups interested in developing peer roles and/or applying recovery principles.
The Recovery Learning Community (RLC) is PEOPLE and is wherever YOU and others from the community are. However, the RLC also offers Resource Connection Centers (RCC), physical locations where individuals can drop in or call in for support, use computers and the Internet, access the RLC library, find resources and attend various groups, workshops and events. The RLC opened the doors of its first RCC in July of 2007 and continued to grow consistently since that time.
Toll-free (866) 641-2853
Videophone (413) 650-5380 or (866) 674-8728
Drop-in hours*: Tuesdays 10a-4p, Wednesdays 12p-7p, Thursdays/Fridays 12p-4p
* A bilingual worker is typically available on Wednesday (American Sign Language/English) and Friday (Spanish/English) afternoons.
Drop-in hours*: Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays 9-3p, Saturday 11-3p
* A bilingual worker is typically available (Spanish/English) all days
Drop-in hours: Mondays 12-3p, Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-4p
Drop-in hours: Mondays 1p-4p, Thursdays 9a-12p (RECOVER open Monday – Friday, Call for full schedule)
Please note: Each RCC varies in size and resources available. Please feel free to stop in or call for more information!
The Western Mass RLC supports all sorts of different people. Being new, we’re not always busy and our groups and workshops aren’t always full, but we’re growing every day and we welcome everyone of all ages, backgrounds and experiences who have experienced significant struggles in their life.
Just a few examples of the people who are a part of our community:
Because we are a community center and do not offer ‘supervision’ of individuals who come in, our spaces are generally intended for individuals 18 and over. However, younger individuals can be accommodated in some spaces/groups so please call to inquire if you have questions or if you would like help to find resources for younger people!
Children under 18 are welcome at RLC events and centers when accompanied by a family member or guardian. However, we ask family members and guardians to be aware of the following community expectations:
Anyone who lives or works in Western Mass and who has lived experience with a mental health diagnosis, extreme states, and/or as a trauma survivor is welcome to be a part of the RLC community. There is no sign up or intake process, and record of your name and address are kept only to be able to communicate with you or send you notices of events. You simply need to visit or call one of the RLC sites or attend an RLC event or training in order to be considered part of the community!!
There is absolutely no cost to visit an RLC center or attend an RLC event, training or workshop. In the rare circumstance where there may be a any sort of cost to you to attend a particular event, it will be clearly stated ahead of time. Donations are always welcomed.
We know that many people don’t have cars or live further away from a
At the Western Mass RLC, we try to use open language that is as inclusive as possible. Some people in our community identify with their diagnosis and with the term ‘mental illness,’ while others view their emotional struggles as ‘extreme states’ that have resulted from experiences of trauma or spiritual emergence, etc. Some people prefer to refer to themselves as ‘clients’ or ‘consumers’ while others are uncomfortable with those terms. For that reason, for example, we refer to people with ‘lived experience’ so that each individual can then define that lived experience in any way they want (i.e., lived experience as a trauma survivor OR lived experience with a mental illness, and so on).
Check out our glossary for more information.
The RLC’s receives their main funding through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, though the RLC has also received some support from other entities including local Arts Councils, city block grants and the Community Foundation. The RLC will continue to apply for new grant opportunities and seek to diversify its funding as possible in the coming years.
There are many people who are very sensitive to the fragrances used in shampoos, lotions, laundry detergents and so on. Some of these sensitivities are allergies and others are symptoms of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), both of which can cause the individual much discomfort and/or serious health repercussions. For that reason, we have made many efforts to make our spaces and our meetings safe for individuals who have allergies or MCS, including by asking everyone to avoid wearing scented items.
However, we understand that being entirely fragrance-free can be very difficult, and that sometimes an individual may not even realize that something they are using has a fragrance that is noticeable to someone else. For that reason, we say that we are ‘aspiring to be’ or doing our best to be fragrance-free, but that we also understand that this is not always possible for every individual for economic and other reasons. In these cases, we ask that people be sensitive to each other by being open and honest when something in their environment is bothering them, and by seeking alternative accommodations such as the use of air filtering systems and windows where available and maintaining physical distance from one another when necessary.
To learn more about MCS and other types of environmental sensitivities come check out the RLC library or ask for a copy of our MCS info sheet.
The RLC values making all of its spaces, groups and events safe and accessible to everyone. Hence, we welcome individuals who are bringing service or companion animals with them as a support.* However, because we sometimes run into conflicting needs or issues, we ask individuals bringing pets with them to be mindful of the following:
Pets will be expected to follow the RLC’s Defining Principles, too!: We are a values driven community with a set of defining principles, including respect of one another, not yelling or making loud noises, not touching one another without permission and so on. Hence, we ask human companions to make sure their pets do not bark, jump on others or behave in ways that will make the environment feel less safe to other individuals or their pets.
Some individuals do not like to be around dogs, cats or other animals because they are uncomfortable around and/or allergic to them: Although a companion animal may be invaluable to the person that it supports, some individuals’ distress and discomfort will be increased by the presence of animals (even those that are well behaved). For that reason, we ask individuals who bring pets to any RLC spaces or events to follow these general guidelines:
* Please note that, in the case of co-sponsored events or activities where other groups are the lead sponsor or in non-RLC leased spaces, we will defer to the guidelines of that space in regards to the presences of animals that are not specifically service animals.
There are many versions of peer communities and/or peer support roles throughout the country and internationally. However, the Recovery Learning Community model is unique to Massachusetts. At this time, there are five other RLCs in the state, including:
The Central Mass RLC*
91 Stafford Street
The Metro Boston RLC
Solomon Carter Fuller MHC Ground Floor
The Metro-Suburban RLC*
60 Quincy Avenue
71 Main Street - Suite 1100
Northeast Independent Living Program
* The Western Mass, Metro-Suburban and Central Mass RLCs were the first of the six to be funded in 2007 and operate on a somewhat different model than the more recent three.
The Consortium is not considered peer-run at this time (i.e., more than 50% of the Board of Directors does not openly identify as having lived experience). However, they are also not a provider of any traditional mental health services. The Consortium provides a number of supports and services, with a large part of their work in these past few decades dedicated to peer community development. As the host agency to not only the Western Mass RLC, but also the Western Mass Women's Resource Center (peer-to-peer community for women identifying as trauma survivors), the RECOVER Project (peer-to-peer community for individuals identifying as having addiction or substance abuse issues), Support Network for Families of Western Mass (a peer-to-peer community for parents and children struggling with emotional difficulties) and more, the Consortium has become an expert on supporting peer participatory process and community development.
The boot and flowers is the Western Mass RLC's logo (also adopted by the Central Mass RLC). The black and white image (created by Western Mass RLC Franklin County Coordinator, Janice Sorensen) is the official logo, though there are many versions you will see throughout our website and community. Although intentionally open to some degree of interpretation, it is generally explained that the boot is always a worn boot and represents the wear and tear we experience as we walk down our life's path, while the flowers represent the beauty and growth that can be generated by our life's experiences.
The Transformation Center partners with Recovery Learning Communities across the state as a historical change agent and supports the advancement and enhancement of the recovery movement with training, technical support and opportunities to collaborate.
In addition to parterning with all RLCs across the state, the Transformation Center also operates as the host organization for two of the RLCs: The Central Mass RLC and the Metro Suburban RLC.
For more about the Transformation Center, please visit their website.