It was a novel approach to helping curb the area’s drug problem: Provide recovering substance addicts a space to practice their pool game, attend meetings and socialize with other former users — all spearheaded by people managing their own recoveries. 

A year after opening its doors, the Recovery Rec Center has built a following among clients who drive from as far as Monticello to receive grief counseling, parenting advice and other support, while celebrating holidays and big sporting events in a drug-free environment. 

The center is backed by

local judges, police, and probation officers, with financial support coming from the Montgomery County Community Foundation, the Drug-Free Coalition and Women’s Legacy Fund.

“So many people I would have never imagined speaking to me in my addiction are just right there by my side,” said Amanda Browning, president of the Recovery Coalition, which runs the center.

Browning was part of a group of Montgomery County Drug Court graduates who sought to give recovering addicts an opportunity to serve the community while surrounding themselves with positive role models to prevent a relapse. The center, 1300 Ladoga Road, officially opened last June after more than a year of fundraising.

Members have access to a game room and are invited to take part in service work projects, family game nights and spiritual retreats. Resources for insurance and employment opportunities are also available. Enough clients were interested in a daytime parenting class that an evening session will be offered. The organization is gauging support for creating additional daytime meetings.

About 10 to 15 volunteers help run programs, check in members and oversee activities.

“It’s just so heartwarming for me to see recovery addicts come into play and want to be involved,” Browning said.

The public is invited to a first anniversary resource and community day Saturday at the center. From 3 to 6 p.m., representatives from Inwell, Women’s Resource Center, Manpower, Half Way Home, New Life, Valley Professionals Community Health Center and other organizations will offer information about their services.

A pulled pork dinner will be served at 6 p.m. for a suggested $5 donation to the center. The menu includes coleslaw, baked beans, chips and drinks.

For more information, visit the center’s Facebook page.

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