Recovery Coach Academy returns to Burrillville this spring


BURRILLVILLE – A program that trains participants how to help others struggling with, or recovering from, addiction to drugs and alcohol will return to Burrillville this spring, with instructor Michelle Harter to lead the town’s second-ever session.

The Recovery Coach Academy was first offered through the Burrillville Addiction Assistance Program in 2019, with a graduating class of 26 local participants. At the time, Harter, who led northwest Rhode Island’s first session, was the coordinator for BAAP, a position that she left later that year.

Those who take the class are challenged to examining their own biases and emotions as they join in the fight to help others. The graduates include mental health professionals, family members and friends of those struggling with addiction, and others who aim to be allies in the battle. Several who took the first session in Burrillville described the curriculum as, “life changing.”

Harter has since taken on the role of community liaison for Providence-based Anchor Recovery Center, an organization that operates the three-week program statewide, and has the goal of certifying 250 new peer recovery specialists across Rhode Island.

She noted that, when it comes to leading in recovery services, “People look to the state of Rhode Island, and Anchor is a big part of that.”

“We’re looking for as many people as possible,” Harter said at a meeting last week with her former colleagues in the Burrillville Prevention Action Coalition, a sister program run through the Burrillville Police Department. “If you believe in the process of recovery, we want you.”

To fully certify as a recovery specialist, the coaches must accompany the 42-hour class with 500 hours of service, which Harter noted many participants complete through a job in the field.

Harter said that those who work in recovery expect to see an “onslaught,” of people with mental health issues once the current pandemic is over.

“All of you are here because you care about what happens in your community,” Harter said, adding that in the class, “You get a great sense of belonging and community. Join us in this fight.”

The three week training is free thanks to funding through a grant to Anchor.

Individuals who are interested in attending can contact Monica Blanchette at or at 401-710-7996. The RCA will be held at the Wallace F. Lees Public Safety Complex in the Community Room, with dates and times as follows:

Week 1:

Thursday, April 29: 5 – 9 p.m.

Friday, April 30: 5 – 9 p.m.

Saturday, May 1: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Week 2:

Thursday, May 6: 5 – 9 p.m.

Friday, May 7: 5 – 9 p.m.

Saturday, May 8: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Week 3:

Thursday, May 13: 5 – 9 p.m.

Friday, May 14: 5 – 9 p.m.

Saturday, May 15: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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