Rumford’s New Path to Recovery
The Larry Labonte Recovery Center in Rumford opened its doors in 2020 directly next door to Arbe’s Carpet & Tile Center on Waldo Street.
This was no coincidence.
“Larry Labonte was the former owner of Arbe’s Carpet & Tile. He passed away seven years ago of SUD [substance use disorder]. When Lonnie Labonte, his son, inherited the business, there was an entirely separate part of the building that he didn’t know what to do with at first. It just sat there,” recounts Kathie Williams, Director of the Labonte Center as well as Lonnie’s mother.
A few years later, the use for the space became abundantly clear. According to Kathie, “Lonnie’s best friend committed suicide after struggling with SUD. Another friend overdosed. Lonnie looked at me and said, “I know what we’re going to do…”
The plan rapidly came together for the Larry Labonte Recovery Center, a community hub for those seeking help for substance use issues to get connected with needed recovery resources, with Lonnie’s mother Kathie, herself a person in recovery, coming on board as Director to help make the vision a reality. Lonnie
Labonte serves as President of the Board.
“We knew what we wanted to do, but we also had no idea what we were doing. I didn’t even know what a 501(c)(3) was, let alone how to create one,” says Kathie.
However, with help from both WMARI (Western Maine Addiction Recovery Initiative and the Portland Recovery Community Center, Williams soon had the wheels turning. “We put out a call on Facebook inviting people to our first community fundraiser. We had hundreds of auction items, live bands, a spaghetti dinner… The event raised $6000 dollars! Bonnie Gatchell came to us with the idea to have a Mud Run to honor the memory of her son Adam. The now Adam Gregory Gatchell Memorial Fund raised $8.5K! This gave us what we needed to get going.”
The Larry Labonte Recovery Center officially opened its doors early 2020. The pandemic certainly didn’t make the start of the recovery center easy, but Williams and Labonte persisted, and with the help of volunteers and now added staff members, the center is bustling with activity and making a difference in the lives of people throughout the region.
According to its mission statement, the Larry Labonte Recovery Center is a “nonjudgmental, safe space for community members to come to find support groups and guidance on their unique pathway to recovery.”
As Williams explains, the center does everything from recovery coaching to peer-to-peer mentoring to facilitating Narcan (naloxone) trainings to providing cell phones to those in need of help attending Zoom meetings related to recovery to handing out basic hygiene supplies and recovery information to people reentering the community after serving jail time.
The center has also rapidly expanded its reach.
“We do a lot of outreach…going out into the community for naloxone training. We train about 25 people at a time, working in schools, food pantries and churches,” confirms Williams. Naloxone, also sold under the brand name Narcan, is a medication designed to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The center provides individual training for Narcan as well. During the center’s open hours, a person can come in anytime for training. The center also offers outreach training in Norway and Mexico.
Williams relates that one of the center’s proudest success stories has come from these training sessions.
“We had a mother call us who had just been trained on Narcan. She used it to save her son’s life.”
There are many other stories too of people who walked into the Larry Labonte Center and walked out ready to enter recovery.
“People go into detox and we might not hear from them again, but some we do and it’s so uplifting to hear how they are doing and how much things have changed for the better. This is why we’re here,” Williams confirms.
The Larry Labonte Recovery Center is always looking for volunteers. To help out, get in touch with the center on their Facebook page (under LLRecoveryCenter) or email Kathie Williams directly: email@example.com.