REAL LIFE Community Center
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. We since have moved locations and are located in the East End area of the City.
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 quick started a Motherhood Program that utilizes a specialized Pathway Navigator who works directly with women in these situations.
All services are provided to clients free of charge. Please call for an appointment.
Our primary objective of the RLCC is to serve individuals with a desire to overcome their adversities. Our goal is for Lifers 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, their assigned Pathway Navigator meets individually with each person to conduct a criminogenic risk assessment to determine their highest risk and need factors associated with re-offending and/or re-using. After the assessment has been completed, an individualized plan is developed between the Pathway Navigator and Lifer to include assignment of classes and groups, as well as mental health and/or other services that address their top three risk and need factors. Almost all assigned groups, classes and services are offered at the RLCC except for medical services, which are referred out.
A Thriving Life is more than staying clean; it’s learning to live clean while taking advantage of our God given abilities of family, work, community, and faith. REAL LIFE refers to these abilities as “Pillars of Thriving.” By integrating the Pillars into all areas of REAL LIFE’s work, we help prepare Lifers to overcome personal and community barriers to thriving. Success in life requires the skills to face daily struggles and unexpected challenges, while staying on the pathway to a Thriving Life! That is the focus of REAL LIFE.
Expectant Mother and Motherhood Program:
REAL LIFE’s Motherhood Program builds relationships with expectant and recent moms that have been impacted by incarceration, homelessness, or substance use disorder. This relationship allows delivery of services and programs that help Moms overcome their unique personal and community barriers that hinder the pathway to a thriving life.
REAL LIFE started Motherhood just two weeks after opening the REAL Life Community Center (December 2017), due to multiple pregnant women and recent moms walking through our doors with few or no options for needed services related to general healthcare and substance abuse disorder. During this time, Richmond had very limited services specifically geared to expectant women with SUD, thus leaving this population with few or no resources for holistic services and assistance. Inability to discontinue their drug use without assistance, and lack of appropriate prenatal care, contributed to a high mortality rate and other health related issues. Sadly, these situations often lead to women committing petty crimes to become incarcerated in order to ‘get clean’ from drugs/alcohol, access prenatal care, and receive medical coverage through the jail. When REAL Life programming was in the jail, we saw numerous women in this situation. Another route for women in this situation is to go to an emergency room when in labor. This is often the first occasion to see a doctor during the pregnancy. We knew we had to act on this dire need.
Moms are equipped 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. This is accomplished through traditional case management combined with educational, emotional, and everyday support.
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.
The Motherhood Program works to prepare women for true motherhood and connect and reconnect families. This directly curbs the devastating statistics, while also decreasing associated recidivism statistics. Research has also shown the most effective way to break the cycle of recidivism is through family building.
Moms are also equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain and maintain meaningful employment. Resume writing, job preparation classes, interview skills, mock interviews, job applications and mentoring are all skills our Moms’ are able to utilize. This is accomplished through our Workforce Development staff member alongside traditional case management. Obtaining employment can be easy, however, it is harder to maintain it, which is why we equip our moms with the necessary skills to grow and become established within a company rather than move from job to job.