‘We’re in the business of saving lives’: Cornerstone to Recovery cuts ribbon on new Barrie facility

Cornerstone operates a 10-bed women's residential facility

Open for just over a week, Simcoe County’s first women’s addiction recovery centre in Barrie offers a safe place for guests, as they are called, to take the steps necessary to heal.

The centre held a ribbon cutting on Thursday afternoon.

“We’re in the business of saving lives,” says Lori-Ann Seward, director of women’s residential programs for Cornerstone to Recovery. “Women come to us from different referrals, self-referral, and we have 10 residential program beds, which is 90 days.”

Cornerstone to Recovery – Barrie (Barrie 360)

Treatment is provided to those with alcohol and drug addictions, and Seward says often there are other issues involved such as human trafficking, the sex trade, trauma and violence with their spouses.

“Children’s Aid is often involved because they have lost their children,” Seward explains. “Often they are homeless and have expired all of their resources, so they come to us in dire need of help, and they are ready to recover and heal.”

She makes it clear that the program is not a medical detox.

“We have a great relationship with RVH (Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre). In that regard, they will take anyone they can.”

To access a bed, guests must have 72 hours of detoxing or have been sober for 72 hours.

The women at the Barrie facility engage in three months of programming packed with activities and courses, which mostly take place at Cornerstone’s community centre in Newmarket, where treatment programs have been offered for about 20 years.

“They participate in a five-week pathways program, which involves everything from anger management, life skills, resume writing and mock interviews,” says Seward. “We have a wellness centre there because recovery is holistic – spiritual, mental, and physical. Every day, the women do some type of physical activity, as well as stage to recovery, which is learning to be healthy, and in relationships as well.”

A critical component of the success of Cornerstone to Recovery is maintaining contact with the women once the program has been completed. Seward says they involve their alumni.

On the day of the interview, three alumni were at the Barrie location delivering furniture or some sort of volunteer work.

“They come back for meetings, and so on, but they really never leave,” says Seward. “We want to set them up for success and also keep them successful.”

Seward says the women are guests who become part of the Cornerstone to Recovery family.

The residential facility is bright and welcoming with a large kitchen and living room. With the use of an erasable marker, there are messages of inspiration scribbled throughout the building including on doors and the fridge.

The organization is a charity and half the cost of treatment is covered by Cornerstone and guests are asked to pay the other half, which is $9,000. It is an enormous amount of money, but Seward points out they never really close the door on anybody.

“It’s a conversation,” she says. “It’s tough to answer that question because it is never cut and dry.”

Seward says Barrie has been very welcoming.

The facility is funded through community donations and a textiles program

In October 2020, the former city council provided an interest-free $4000,000 loan to renovate a building for Cornerstone’s Barrie operations. Also, the city entered into a sole-source two-year agreement, with an option for renewal, to allow Cornerstone to place textile bins at various locations to which the public can donate clothing and other items. Money from the collection of those textiles goes to fund the Barrie facility.

Banner image: Cornerstone to Recovery home – Barrie (File photo)

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