Friendship Center to Celebrate Move to New Home Dowtown

The Friendship Center, a 30-year fixture on Derry’s main thoroughfare, will move to a new facility by the end of this month.
The move will help the center, which assists people in treatment and recovery, to expand its mission and better serve the clients it has, according to Madeline Demeule of Londonderry, executive director of Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, the umbrella organization behind the Center.

The members of the recovery community raised the funds for their new building, at 6 Railroad Ave., on their own, Demeule said.
“We have been talking about it for several years,” Demeule said. “We waited for the right opportunity. We wanted to own, not rent, and we wanted to be in downtown Derry, for people who don’t have transportation.”
The Friendship Center has been at 45 East Broadway (Route 102) for 32 years, according to a press release. “Tens of thousands” of men and women have found freedom from substance abuse at the East Broadway site.
But they needed more room, Demeule said.
And they wanted the appearance of the new digs to “replicate what is going on inside.” What’s going on inside, according to Demeule, are transformed lives.
The current site didn’t always show that, especially with the clusters of people standing outside smoking. The administration asked the clients not to smoke in front of the building and most cooperated, Demeule said, but the negative image remained.
“It was very difficult,” she said, “for new people to walk into the building.”
It’s part of a stigma against people in recovery, and one Demeule is working to erase on the local, state and national level. While anonymity is still a cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous, AA recently made a statement saying that people should show pride in being in recovery, and having beaten their habit. “You’re ‘stepping up’ into recovery – you should be proud,” Demeule said.
And now her clients have a facility they can be proud of.
In 32 years, “we have had almost no issues with the town,” Demeule said, another reason why they wanted to stay in Derry.
The new facility is bigger, at 3,400 square feet, she said. They can have more activities and host more recovery groups. It has a kitchen, a “huge” meeting space, and off-street parking, among other amenities. The old building had one meeting room, an office space and a basement with a pool table.
There will be plenty of room for Super Bowl parties, World Series viewings, and the 24-hour “Holiday Meeting” held over Christmas, a delicate time for people with substance abuse issues.
The current building plays host to between 22 and 25 recovery meetings each week. Most are Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon, the family support group, although they have also hosted veteran-to-veteran support groups and women’s sobriety groups.
A branch facility, the Avery Center, opened three years ago in space at the Londonderry Presbyterian Church, and focuses on women, children and families impacted by substance abuse, with eight to 10 meetings a week. “We are looking at adding meditation, yoga and art to the Avery Center program,” Demeule said.
But first she and the recovery community will celebrate the opening of the Railroad Avenue building – and figure out how to pay for it. The community raised $40,000 on its own, through gifts and donations, for the down payment. Now they have a mortgage, though “it’s less than the rent on East Broadway,” Demeule said.
The building, which was rehabbed by Nashua businessmen and then put on the market, had a total cost of $199,000, she said.
“We really need funding,” Demeule said. In addition to the mortgage, they want to have paid staff at the new center, so it can be open longer. They are relying on volunteers at present.
The agency holds two major fund-raisers each year, a Chocolate Ball and the upcoming “Celebrate Recovery.” “Celebrate Recovery” will be held Friday, Nov. 8, at Promises To Keep on Rockingham Road in Derry. The event is “huge” this year, Demeule said, with raffle items including Red Sox tickets, Patriots tickets, a weekend at Martha’s Vineyard and tickets to the Christmas Pops at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Trish Lucas, Esq., will be honored as Advocate of the Year and Lisa Spofford, owner of Rig A’Tony’s in Derry, will be honored as Business of the Year.
Amanda Spinney of Hooksett will receive the Phoenix Award, given to a young person in recovery.
Tickets are $50 per person and may be obtained by calling Demeule at 421-0255 or 264-1575.
And as she preps for the gala event, Demeule will also be prepping the new building to reflect transformed lives. “There’s a bar, and we’re converting it into a coffee bar,” she said.

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