Women’s Family Recovery Center opens

From the exterior, the red brick building at 815 W. Miller appears old and dated. Originally, it is believed to have been part of the Alpena Hide & Leather Tanning complex that turned out shoe leather from 1895 to 1958.

Step inside the front doors, however, and a light-filled, refurbished interior has given the structure fresh life. The building, which over the years has seen usage as office space for a construction company and a home health care agency, has now been repurposed into a new inpatient substance abuse treatment facility for women.

Called the Family Recovery Centre, the facility is an extension of the Sunrise Centre and is the only one of its kind in Northeast Michigan. What is unique about the setting is that women receiving treatment can have their young children stay with them. The length of stay during the recovery process may be up to 90 days.

“Women with young children are often reluctant to be separated from their children for a long period of time as they receive treatment,” said Marilyn Maness-Bayot, director of the Sunrise Centre. “Even with vistitations it is difficult to do. Women will be able to be here with their children as they are getting treatment.”

Besides this new facility in Alpena, the only other two women’s treatment centers in the state that accommodate young children are located in Sault Ste. Marie and downstate.

The Family Recovery Center is able to house up to 12 women at a time, with bedrooms outfitted with two single beds and a dresser. Cribs or youth beds can be set up in the bedrooms as need be, although a family unit wing is in the process of being furnished and will eventually be used to house the women who come in with small children.

“Our treatment program is all individualized,” Maness-Bayot said. “We want to make this facility as comfortable as possible and conducive to recovery. Everything in the facility is brand new.”

Some of the individualized treatment will take place at the new facility, while other facets remain at the Sunrise Centre that now will be used to house only men with alcohol and drug addictions. Along with working on their substance abuse issues, the women will be taught life skills, including parenting skills and house keeping skills. Lectures and Powerpoint programs related to their recovery are expected to be given as well at the new facility.

“While here they will get all the skills they need to cope and be drug and alcohol free,” Maness-Bayot said. “Their treatment is gender specific.”

The facility contains a large living room area, bathroom with shower facilities, staff office space, laundry facility, a small kitchenette and a meeting room where meals can be taken. Clients eat their breakfast at the recovery center. Their lunch is served at the Sunrise Centre, where they spend their days in group therapy and other related sessions. Dinner is delivered to them back at the recovery center.

Maness-Bayot said the staff still needs to furnish the family wing with items for children to play with. They also have very little artwork yet for the walls, and future plans call for creating an outdoor patio area, a children’s play area, landscaping, fencing and a gardening area with raised beds and container gardens.

Maness-Bayot hopes the new facility will be embraced by the community and supported with donations. Already she is pleased with the financial support that was received from the United Way of Northeast Michigan and the Besser Foundation for Northeast Michigan.

“We owe a big thank-you to the Besser Foundation, that contributed $80,000 to help finish the facility,” she said. “We also had a nice contribution from the United Way to be utilized for the Women’s Recovery Center.”

A non-profit agency, the Sunrise Centre was incorporated in 1990 and started out serving a male population from the Department of Corrections, including those with drunk driving convictions. In 2005, the facility became co-ed, with 18 beds for men and 10 for women in what was formerly a nun’s dormitory at the old Catholic Central High School.

With the opening of the women’s facility, the Sunrise Centre will go back to housing men only, although recovery programs for both the male and female populations will be administered there. Overall, a total population of 40 can be served.

The facility employees a staff of 20 and offers detox services, with a doctor, triage nurse and physician’s assistant on staff.

According to Maness-Bayot, the census per year at the Sunrise Centre is about 300, with the average age range falling in the 20s and 30s. She said originally, the hope was to build a brand new facility for the women but since the agency already owned the former tannery office building, the decision was made to instead refurbish it.