Peer Mentors Office Gets a Makeover Thanks to Community Partners

peer mentors office

Every year, more than a 1,000 men come through the doors of The Healing Place. The success of the program lies in the peer-to-peer model. The pulse of this model comes from the heart of the building, the Peer Mentors Office. 

“Here, we track each resident from beginning to end,” says Peer Mentor Supervisor Justin. “We make sure they have the documents they need. If they don’t have them, we point them in the right direction.”

Justin and his team are also encouraging the men and helping them work through the assignments of the Recovery Dynamics curriculum. Justin entered the program May 2017. He’s seen the Peer Mentors office from both sides. 

“The Peer Mentors office is really the 12thstep in action,” says Justin. “It’s helping the next alcoholic. We can help because we’ve done it all ourselves.”

After 13 years of operation, the Peer Mentors office was beginning to get cramped. A creative team of volunteers has been working hard this May to create a solution. 

“One of my friend’s sons was in the program,” says Cathy Turner about The Healing Place. “I love the mission of The Healing Place. There is such a need for the programs that CARITAS has. I believe we all have an obligation to give back.”

Cathy has worked with Closet Factory for 18 years. She helped organize the nurse’s office in the recovery program years ago with a local group of organizers who are members of the Richmond chapter of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals). This year, she and her peers took on a bigger project: the Peer Mentors office.

peer mentors office after
In the process of getting back to work in the redesigned space!

“One of their biggest challenges was that it was so crowded in there,” she says. “So many are people working in there on different teams, but they didn’t have their own space. They were making due, but we knew they could do better and could create space for meetings.”

Cathy drew the plans for the custom cabinets and counter tops made by Closet Factory. The design opened up the space and created new opportunities for organization and functionality. Katherine Lawrence with Space Matters joined Cathy to bring the concept to life. 

“When you think about home organizing, you think of creating a peaceful bedroom or kitchen,” she says. “Then, think of services they’re offering to people without homes there. That’s a way higher goal…what is going to get people off the street and back into homes?”

Once the plans were made the cabinets were being constructed, the peer mentors and other residents cleaned out the old office, painted the walls, and set up shop in a temporary space for a week. 

In process with new cusom shelving and cabinets by Closet Factory!

“It’ll be a lot more functional,” says Justin. 

As CARITAS designs The Healing Place for Women at the CARITAS Center, this new floorplan and organizational structure will guide decisions on the new program, which says Katherine, is inspiring and exciting. 

A special thank you to the creative volunteerism and giving of NAPO Richmond, the Closet Factory, and Space Matters! 

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