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Cornerstone eyes October opening for women's treatment facility

'The idea is to get everything in, set up and ready to rock and roll and start doing the assessments with clients coming in mid-October,' says official

Although they don’t want to wish away the rest of summer, officials with Cornerstone To Recovery’s new women’s residential treatment facility in Barrie can’t wait until October.

The not-for-profit organization has been offering programs that focus on community-based treatment since 2004. Residents (currently men only) are provided with a 90-day stay that includes a holistic program, family counselling and re-employment training. 

The Barrie facility, which is located at 236 Dunlop Street W., will be the first community treatment centre for women in Simcoe County and will offer 10 residential program beds and three transitional beds. 

Construction, which started in March, is expected to be completed this fall, says Peter Brewitt, the organization’s director of counselling programs and development. A move-in date is anticipated for mid-October. 

“It’s coming together quite nicely," he told BarrieToday. "Apparently, I suffer a bit from something called impatient-itis.

"Now that we’ve got it done, when can we move in?” Brewitt joked. "The idea is to get everything in, set up and ready to rock and roll and start doing the assessments with clients coming in mid-October.”

As crews worked to install drywall inside the building, director of women’s residential programs Lori-Ann Seward told BarrieToday she's beyond excited that the official opening of the much-needed and much-anticipated facility is finally within view.  

“We have had so much support from the community and it’s been overwhelming, in a very, very positive way,” she said. 

Seward is looking forward to “engaging in the saving of lives” once the doors open this fall.

“We don’t have to go very far to see how our community is impacted by drug overdoses. Every day we see ambulances, fire trucks… so just really anxious to put this forward in motion and get some results,” she said. “Cornerstone is a family. It doesn’t take long to see, once you become a part of this, it’s not a job anymore. It’s like fuelling a passion.”

Seward, who has been in recovery herself for more than a decade, says she’s very involved and engaged in Barrie’s recovery community and the job at the facility was a meeting of passion and career. 

“I have been offered this opportunity to be of service and to try to provide other people with what I have had the privilege of being provided with myself. If someone told me 11 years ago when I was in treatment that one day I would be the director of a women’s treatment centre I never would have believed it,” she said. “When you’re in treatment, usually you’ve lost hope and you’re disgusted with yourself that you’ve let yourself get to that point.

"That’s the kind of hope I want to give these women, that they can aspire to be anything they want.”

Staffing the facility is currently underway, Brewitt said, adding along with being board-certified professionals, they also have the added experience of having graduated from what he called the “school of hard knocks.”

“When you’re sitting down and talking to another alcoholic or addict, there’s a sense of trust that’s automatically extended because I didn’t learn it from a textbook. I was on the street too and that goes a long way for credibility purposes,” he said. 

With the inside of the building starting to take shape, Seward says they’re beginning to focus a bit more on the items they will need once they get inside. 

“We have the gift registry. ... Housewarming that makes a difference. Now it’s coming down to the crunch and we are trying to hammer down on what we need,” she said, adding they’re also looking for volunteers. “It’s one thing for people to support it, but when they’re actually putting their money where their mouth is… that’s (true) engagement. We have noticed, everybody wants a solution to this… and we’ve had people we don’t even know buying into our registry.”

Program participants will also be looking at volunteering in the community, Seward added.

“That’s one thing we are working hard at is finding a place (the women) can volunteer. We want to give back to the community.”