REAL LIFE Community Center at 406 E Main Street, Richmond
The REAL Life Community Center (RLCC) opened in December 2017 as a catalyst for overcoming adversities, (primarily due to substance use disorders, homelessness, or incarceration), sustaining sobriety, and providing a pathway to a thriving future through cultivating stronger families, gaining meaningful employment, and improving personal interaction skills, while building a foundation of faith. Due to an additional need we quickly began to see with women who are pregnant and battling addiction, or pregnant and recently released from incarceration, we also have an Expectant Mother Program that utilizes a specialized Case Manager who works directly with women in these situations.
All services are provided to clients free of charge.
Our primary objective of the RLCC is to serve individuals with a desire to overcome their adversities. Our goal is for clients to achieve a thriving life. The unique attribute of the RLCC is providing clients with a path to thriving, not just recovery. It is the idea is recovering to something greater than what was lost.
Upon entrance to the Center, individuals must complete an intake in order to access services. During intake, a case manager meets individually with each client to conduct a criminogenic risk assessment to determine the client’s highest risk factors associated with re-offending and/or re-using. After the assessment has been completed, an individualized plan is developed between the case manager and client to include assignment of classes and groups, as well as mental health and/or other services that address the client’s top three risk and need factors. All groups, classes and services are offered at the RLCC except for medical services, which are referred out. The RLCC also has an Expectant Mother Case Manager who works solely with pregnant women active in addiction or exiting incarceration. This case manager oversees additional issues such as prenatal care, breast feeding, caring for a newborn, and other like areas.
The RLCC follows four pillars to address the issues associated with addiction, incarceration, homelessness, and other adverse situations that are often barriers to success. Once these factors have been addressed, individuals have a much higher likelihood of overcoming their situation and achieving the thriving life desired.
This model addresses all facets of a person’s life that keep him or her from moving forward. Because the process of rehabilitation can be quite daunting, our case management process allows us to walk alongside clients to help them move toward their goals. Our person-centered approach involves the client in the process of developing and outlining a plan in order to have their buy-in from the beginning. Further, we want to empower clients to steer their own recovery by addressing what they perceive as their obstacles and issues rather than simply dictating what their plan will be.
Since opening in December 2017, we have doubled our monthly enrollment goals. In this short time period, we have already seen great success. We have several clients who had been in homeless shelters for weeks or months who are now in stable housing. We have even more clients who were unemployed and now have jobs. We have new and expectant mothers who are no longer using drugs and are better caring for their children. We have others who continue their job searches and are enrolled in computer classes, trauma classes, and job preparation services, among many other classes available at the Center. There are many who serve at the Center each week by providing community service in various ways, thus already beginning to give back. The positive feedback from clients is unmeasurable and serves as a daily reminder that change is possible for this population.
Expectant Mother and Motherhood Program:
The REAL LIFE Motherhood Program builds relationships with expectant and recent moms that have been impacted by incarceration, homelessness or substance use disorder. This relationship allows for programming that provides support to overcome the unique personal and community barriers that hinder a mom’s pathway to a thriving life.
Often this population of vulnerable women do not have a positive support system, they are unable to discontinue their drug use alone, and do not seek appropriate medical prenatal care, thus contributing to a high mortality rate and other health related issues, not to mention the inability to properly care for the baby upon birth. Richmond currently does not have these specific services geared to expectant women, thus leaving this population with slim (or no) resources for assistance. Sadly, this often leads to these women committing petty crimes to become incarcerated so they can get clean from drugs/alcohol, receive prenatal care, and have medical coverage through the jail (which drains tax payer dollars).
REAL LIFE’s Motherhood Programs works to equip the ladies with knowledge and skills for dealing with addictive behaviors and traumatic experiences that have affected them and their unborn child(ren). Parenting skills and early childhood development needs are taught and practiced.
Appropriate social services and medical care referrals provide the best care available for the baby and Mom. A holistic approach that includes on-site counselors, social emotional support, and physical support not only lead to healthy Moms and babies, but healthy women and children.
This program affects more than just the lady, but also her unborn or young child & most likely other children she has. It is through this approach, that generational cycles of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, substance use, foster care, and alike are able to decrease or even be ceased – that is our goal and that is what our evaluations will determine.