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A quarterly newsletter from Massachusetts Access to Recovery (ATR) where our efforts to support individuals in recovery intersect.

We often treat our street intersections as meeting points, a place to meet a friend before continuing together to a shared destination. We hope to meet you at The Corner with the same goal in mind: to collaborate, walk together, and work together to better support individuals in recovery.


When the road is dark, we rely on the streetlamps and lights above us to help guide the way. The work we do for those in recovery comes with challenges, but when we hear from ATR participants, they light us up. Our ATR participants are resilient, their courage guides us and inspires us.

Meet Mike

“I was at a turning point. I could have repeated the cycle that I had been in for the last 20 years, or I could have gone down a new path,” said Mike, reflecting on his journey from parole to professor. After his time in Massachusetts Department of Corrections, Mike found himself in treatment, but he decided that this time would be his last.

Read his full story below.

“I was at a turning point. I could have repeated the cycle that I had been in for the last 20 years, or I could have gone down a new path,” said Mike, reflecting on his journey from parole to professor. After his time in Massachusetts Department of Corrections, Mike found himself in treatment, but he decided that this time would be his last. “I don’t know how to do anything 50%. I am either all in, or I run,” he said. He was determined to make the most of his time in treatment attending meetings, getting involved with his recovery group, and building community. For the first time in a long time, Mike was surrounded by support, and he didn’t fight against it – he began to work with it. In doing so, he found a support system in ATR that he called, “the whole package.”

While Mike admitted that he joined ATR for the initial basic needs fund, “what I got out of it was so much more important.” In every aspect of his recovery, Mike not only accepted everyone’s support, but he also built lasting relationships with them that he could rely on. His ATR Coordinator and other ATR staff at the Gavin Foundation encouraged him, answered his calls when he needed someone, and pushed him toward his own success. When Mike spoke of the Gavin team, specifically Doug, Stephen, and Ryan, (who you may remember reading about in our previous issue of The Corner) he said, “I was completely blessed. Not just with the program itself, but with some amazing people that I knew were there to support me…and they all kind of complemented each other, without even knowing it.”

When he enrolled in ATR Career Services and began computer technology courses at the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology (BFCIT), Mike leaned on Ryan when the courseload felt beyond his control. “There is one other person I have to speak about,” and that is Kristen Hurley, Chief Strategy Officer at BFCIT. Mike said, “I had many people advocate for me throughout my life, but I had never met someone like Kristen. Not only did she advocate, she was [also] a cheerleader.” Mike shared that Kristen was responsive when he had questions, she listened when he was worried about his certification exams, and her dedication to his success went beyond his journey as a student as she advocated for him on his way to employment.

While enrolled in the computer technology courses, Mike needed additional help. BFCIT contracted with a tutor to help him and his classmates with the work. “They hired someone that would deal specifically with our demographic…we got specialized services and individual attention. That was huge,” Mike said. He excelled in the program, graduated at the top of his class, and the school recognized him with an award for his academic success. Sometime after graduation, in a full circle moment, Mike was asked to step in as a tutor for BFCIT students, and then joined the team as a full-time instructor where he now teaches two classes of ATR participants. “I am just so happy where I am and to be able to work with ATR students is incredible. They have my upmost respect. They don’t know what a miracle they are,” Mike said.

In all of Mike’s success through the ATR program, as a BFCIT faculty member, and as an individual in recovery, his confidence and humility sit side by side. He knows what he is capable of and he takes every opportunity to celebrate those who helped him get where he is today. When he spoke of the courage and bravery he sees in the ATR participants he teaches, having been through what they are going through, Mike recognized that he can now see his own courage and bravery. He shared, “When I walk into class and the students say, ‘Good morning, Professor,’…it makes it all worth it.”


When we have updates about the ATR program, you can find them here. Consider this your one-stop-shop for ATR announcements.

An Important Announcement:

ATR Sober Home Services

As of 11/11/22 Access to Recovery (ATR) is no longer accepting referrals to the Sober Home Pilot Program. Starting on 11/14/22 ATR is an approved referral source for BSAS/SOR funded Rapid Rehousing (RRH) Programs. RRH vendors are uniquely positioned to support individuals in their housing search both for private housing and for sober home placement.

Our team understands that the discontinuation of ATR’s Sober Home Service may bring questions and concerns. Many ATR participants still express a need for housing support, so ATR Coordinators will continue to assess housing needs and refer participants to the Rapid Rehousing Program when appropriate. For answers to a few frequently asked questions, please click here.

Increasing Access to ATR Services

In an effort to increase access to ATR services, we have begun utilizing a language translation service in order to communicate with individuals in recovery who speak little or no English. The landscape of the demographics we serve in ATR is changing and we want to equip our team with the tools to provide services and overcome any language barrier. This interpretation program, CyraCom, allows our team to communicate with clients through a professional interpreter over the phone, or using video calls to communicate in ASL. ATR Coordinator, James Harrison, has been able to test out this service with a few Spanish-speaking participants saying, "It is very convenient and the representatives are very friendly and professional." We look forward to hearing how this service supports all of our team members as they work with ATR participants!

Supporting ATR Career Service Providers

In October, ATR Career Services Director, Kelly Joseph, facilitated a training for ATR Career Service Providers on Opioid Overdose Prevention and Naloxone Response. Designed to improve the capacity of our workforce development Provider Network to serve individuals in recovery from substance use disorder, this training equipped attendees with the knowledge and skills necessary to step in and render first aid during an opioid overdose emergency situation.

Naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) is a lifesaving medication that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Following the training, Narcan kits (pictured above) were made available for free to all attendees through the Community Naloxone Purchasing Program (CNPP) - of which ATR is an affiliate provider. We hope this is another step toward better equipping workforce development professionals with the tools and education to continue supporting individuals in recovery.


Beep beep! ATR has a lot of moving parts and our team oversees the traffic of incoming participants, ready to begin their recovery path. With that, we know that there are thousands across the nation who are starting their recovery journeys, too. This Traffic Report is where our communities intersect across the state of Massachusetts and across the country.

ATR Holiday Toolkit

As we prepare for the holiday season, we recognize that not all holiday experiences are created equal. For many ATR pariticpants and other individuals in recovery, the holidays might be difficult due to continued treatment, being away from family or children, complicated relationships, or needing to stay away from certain festivities to maintain recovery. We have compiled a list of recommendations and resources for individuals in recovery. Feel free to share with those who may need an additional reminder this holiday season: our support is with you every day of the year.


We are excited to not only share the progress of the ATR program, but also share this space with partnering organizations who are making an impact on individuals in recovery and spotlight their work. In The Rotary, we will host discussions with other organizations as well as discuss important topics that are affecting our community and our participants. In a rotary, you may find yourself in the midst of chaos and confusion, but The Rotary is where we come together to help each other move in the right direction.

ATR Care Coordinator: Lizbeth

Three and a half years ago, a police officer looked around at the community before her. She saw her neighbors struggling with substance use, mental health disorders, and she saw organizations hustling to keep up with the needs. She saw the community members extending support, leaned over to her partner, and said, “I’m going to be in that field. We need more of that.”

Read more below about our ATR Care Coordinator, Lizbeth.

Three and a half years ago, a police officer looked around at the community before her. She saw her neighbors struggling with substance use, mental health disorders, and she saw organizations hustling to keep up with the needs. She saw the community members extending support, leaned over to her partner, and said, “I’m going to be in that field. We need more of that.” After leaving a 15-year career in law enforcement, Lizbeth Martinez joined in, extending support to the recovery community in the Springfield/Holyoke area as an ATR Care Coordinator through the Institute of Health and Recovery (IHR).

ATR Care Coordinators play an important role in an ATR participant’s journey through the program. While they complete administrative tasks like intake assessments, referral submissions, fund distribution, and more, they also act as an ATR participant’s cheerleader. They help participants set goals, remove barriers, provide resources, and celebrate their success. “They know that they have somebody to talk to if they need it. We’re here for them,” Liz shared. She does all of this, and she remains authentic, present, and invested in each of her participants. “I’ve seen Liz approach every challenge with a sense of resolve and optimism,” said ATR Care Coordinator Supervisor, Cordero Crenshaw, “She stays the course and is always focused on the goal.”

Liz’s day-to-day consists of working with new ATR participants, checking in with current ATR participants, or delivering work study benefit checks. “Liz has a great ability to connect with the participants. She can meet them where they are at in their recovery journey and finds what motivates the individual to help reach their goals,” said Cordero. Every ATR participant is different. They each have different life, career, and recovery goals. On days where a participant completes a training program or finishes their six months in ATR, Liz celebrates alongside them. When her participants credit her for their success, she reminds them, “No. It wasn’t me. You guys did it, you did it all on your own…You guys are getting up in the morning, showing up to class, keeping up with the process, not me. This is all you.” While our ATR participants are incredible and resilient, we would not be able to support thousands of individuals each year without Care Coordinators like Liz.

The road of recovery comes with a number of challenges; the route changes or there are bumps along the way. We are grateful for partners like IHR and Care Coordinators like Liz who advocate and celebrate ATR participants through the process. “We all go through challenges in life, so I always let them know to keep their heads up. One day at a time,” she said, “Tomorrow, we don’t know what’s in the olla (cooking pot). One day at a time.”

Thank you, Lizbeth, for your time, effort, and dedication to ATR participants who need the encouragement and positivity that you provide.


There are always training opportunities, webinars, or events to look forward to. Check in here to put your next destination on the calendar!

Substance Use & Mental Illness on the Street: Rallying Community & Institutional Support for Unhoused Neighbors

Wednesday, December 7, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (EST)

This FREE virtual Be Here Behavioral Health & Racial Equity Initiative Summit event will feature the discussion of the co-occurrence of mental health and substance use disorders as well as explore strategies for organizing to influence local and state policy to support your community. Click here for more details, and click below to register.


ATR Partners Events

Boston | Lowell | New Bedford | Springfield/Holyoke | Worcester

We are grateful to have a network of partners across all five service areas who are dedicated to providing quality services to ATR participants. From ATR Care Coordinators, job trainers, Recovery Coaches, and more, we each have a role to play in a participant's recovery. This winter, we will be meeting in each of our service areas to share the impact ATR has made, what ATR services are available, and enjoy an opportunity to network and collaborate.

Invites will be sent out in the coming weeks by location, so stay connected for more details!

Questions? Reach out to Brita Loftus.


We relish the opportunity to share the mission of ATR with others, so stop by the Newsstand for the latest articles or press releases from ATR.

If you subscribe to the Boston Globe, check out this opinion piece on the impact that financial support has on an individual's sustained recovery. ATR is highlighted for the way our services bolster an individual's recovery through basic needs support and help individuals build their skills and marketability through career services.


BEES Integrating Employment Services with Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery: The Experiences of Five Programs

This report documents the experiences of five programs, including ATR, that integrate employment services into treatment and recovery programs for people with substance use disorder (SUD). (Treatment services treat SUD directly, and recovery services support success in the recovery process, during or after treatment.) One of the aspects of the ATR program explored in this report is the importance of ATR’s relationships with providers and the emphasis on offering job training programs specifically for individuals with a history in the criminal legal system. Click below to read the full report.