BURLINGTON CITY — A second community peer recovery center to help residents obtain treatment and other critical mental health and community supports has opened in Burlington County.

The new center is located in the City Hall building at 525 High Street.

Burlington County Department of Human Services Director Shirla Simpson said the new center will provide the same services as the first one on a smaller scale.

It will provide space for groups like Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous to meet and for residents in recovery to gather and receive training and engage in social and recreational activities, she said.

“There will be peer recovery coaches there for them to interact with and also to get linked to services for recovery and substance abuse treatment,” Simpson said.

The first center opened in the county in the fall of 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the County Human Services Building in Westhampton.

Simpson said it has been very successful. It has helped more than 500 individuals and hosted more than 40 events since it opened. They have been able to start yoga, several painting classes, rock climbing trips, walks in nature, visits to local parks and they’ve even hosted a large, summer barbecue.

So, why the need for a second community peer recovery center?

“There was funding available from the New Jersey Department of Human Services and we felt it would be a great opportunity to provide another center in another part of the county,” Simpson said.

It’s close to transportation and close to the river line.

The Burlington City Police Department was able to partner with the County Department of Human Services to provide a space in the municipal building, Simpson added. Plus, they were already a partner with Volunteers of America, which was providing social services to residents there and in the county.

Simpson said this has been such a great opportunity for the county in all the services that they’ve set out to provide in substance abuse, and all their mental health services.

“This was just linking us and part of our continuum, building on everything that we’ve been trying to build for years. It’s just been such a great opportunity for us,” she said.

Simpson went on to say that the best part is all the partnerships that the county has especially with the nonprofit group, Prevention is Key which will be operating both centers and volunteers from the recovery community, Burlington City Police Department, Volunteers of America, and so many more.

The county’s stigma-free initiative is also very important, she said. The support from 17 municipalities, and 20 Burlington County school districts, not including Rowan College of Burlington County, has really taken off.

Burlington County is dedicated to focusing on mental health and substance abuse, knowing it is an illness in which residents need treatment and assistance.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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