DEWITT — People who need emotional support can find it easier now that the After Hours Wellness Recovery Center in DeWitt has moved downtown.

Formerly located at a local church and then across from the local Kwik Star, the Recovery Center opened Jan. 1 at 909 Sixth Ave. in DeWitt, next to Art’s Barber Shop, Todd Noack said Wednesday.

Noack is executive director for Life Connections Peer Recovery Services in DeWitt.

The Sixth Avenue location is open after hours, from 5-10 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Residents who need emotional support can use the computer lab, join support groups, have one-on-one conversations and create arts and crafts, Noack said.

Residents can meditate in the dimly lit meditation room with soft music and soothing, running water or read books that will keep them on the road to recovery from whatever they have faced, Noack said, whether it be substance abuse or mental health issues.

Too often people end up in hospitals or jails, where they don’t find the help they need. “It’s because we’re not healing the infection,” Noack said.

Noack likened life to a trip we all have to travel. We have to see the adversity we may face and prepare for it, as when Noack leaves early for a destination because he knows he may be delayed by road construction.

That’s what the facility teaches through the Wellness Recovery Action Planning program.

The facility was closed for six weeks in 2020 due to COVID, so it created virtual supports, which people can still use, said Noack. Through Meeting Owl, anyone who needs support but has no transportation or doesn’t want to drive to the site, can see everyone in the support group at the Center through a 360-degree camera that focuses on whomever is speaking.

The Center encourages people to visit in person, Noack said. Most of the people who need the support are already isolating themselves. And COVID gave them an excuse to do it, Noack said.

What people actually need is to get out of their homes and find support in people around them, Noack said.

“We’ve been telling people to social distance themselves,” said Noack. We should have been saying “physically distance,” Noack said, because the people he works with need to stay socially engaged, even while physically distancing.

Worry and loneliness brings some people to the facility, said Noack. And some people feel anxiety, especially with COVID and conflicting information about masks and vaccines.

People are uncertain and confused, Noack said, “and they’re striving for that isolation to be over.”

Life Connections Peer Recover Services provides a safe place for people in recovery from mental health an substance abuse issues. It operates Rhonda’s House, a peer run respite, in addition to the After Hours center.

The After Hours center has seen five or 10 new guests a month, said Noack. Last week the facility served 27 people.

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