Mind and Body

A safe place to call home for moms and their kids in recovery

New certified recovery house, The Blessing Way, opens in Portsmouth

Photo courtesy of Holly Cekala

Holly Cekala, left, and Christine Nolan, fourth from left, the CEO of Trinity Village, prepare to hang the sign for The Blessing Way.

By Richard Asinof
Posted 5/13/19
A new model for recovery housing, The Blessing Way, focused on serving women with young children, opened its doors on May 1 in Portsmouth.
What are the opportunities to replicate this model for recovery housing for women and their young children elsewhere in Rhode Island? What kinds of opportunity for collaboration are there with the Social Enterprise Greenhouse and its new office at Innovate Newport, and with the Newport Health Equity Zone? Would chefs at local restaurants be willing to teach cooking classes to mothers at The Blessing Way? Would Shri Yoga, which already leads yoga classes for mothers in recovery, consider holding a class at The Blessing Way?
Magdalena Andreozzi, a grandmother, artist and entrepreneur, is the founder of a new Rhode Island nonprofit, Grands Flourish, Inc., focused on providing support services and resources for grandparents who are raising grandchildren impacted by substance use disorders and other traumas. The mission is to inspire, empower and preserve “grandfamilies” by supporting grandparents raising grandchildren, helping them to navigate systems and reduce barriers.
In 2017, there were 13,493 children in Rhode Island who were living with their grandparents, of whom some 65 percent were under the age of 60, according to Andreozzi. She believes that with supports and services, children can thrive in grandfamilies and experience better outcomes than those in foster care with non-relatives.

PORTSMOUTH – A newly certified recovery house, The Blessing Way, in partnership with The Trinity Village, opened its doors on May 1, at 2538 East Main Rd., with the arrival of the first mother and her child, from a referral.

The new recovery house is focused on providing housing for women in recovery and their young children, seeking to blend services around recovery, treatment and counseling, geared toward helping mothers with young kids to embrace a lifestyle of recovery and healthy living.

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, there were eight moms and six children living there, according to Holly Cekala, who serves as the chief operating officer for Trinity Healthy Living and the director of development for The Blessing Way.

As a special Mother’s Day gift, all the mothers living at The Blessing Way received a “day at the salon,” courtesy of a local business, which wished to remain anonymous. “When you look good, you feel good,” Cekala said, “It was really nice to see them come home, smiling, looking great.”

The contributions by local businesses are indicative of the strong support that the new recovery home has received from the local community, according to Cekala. A local bank, the People’s Credit Union, is offering some financial wellness class for the mothers. Nutrition classes are planned, working with the Portsmouth Food Pantry, on how to make healthy meals on a budget. Boys Town in Portsmouth will be providing parenting classes. Other local businesses have said that they are willing to serve as job-training sites.

“Sometimes, it feels like I’m building a home economics class – how to sew buttons, how to iron clothes for a job interview, things like that,” Cekala said. She described the women who are currently staying at The Blessing Way as “our frontier pioneer women,” who are the first to help us build this project.

Cekala described the collaborations that are part of the initiative as integral to the effort to make “a great stew,” building a safe village of support, without duplicating services.

“The model that we are building is really exciting,” she continued. “Our investors want to see if it can be duplicated in other states.”

Ribbon cutting ceremony
There will be an official ribbon-cutting “party” to open the new recovery housing facility on Friday morning, May 17, at 10:30 a.m., followed by a reception at St. Barnabas Church, 1697 East Main St. in Portsmouth. Tom Coderre, senior advisor to Gov. Gina Raimondo and co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Intervention, will be attending, representing the Governor.

The Blessing Way recovery housing initiative emphasizes employment, self-sustainability, embracing one’s spiritual path, and financial wellness to complement its other programmatic features, including a licensed daycare facility, parenting classes, and clinical assistance, according to Cekala.

George O’Toole, formerly with Anchor Recovery Community Center and The Providence Plan, has been recruited to serve as the new executive director for the project.

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