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Recovery Community Center honors son's memory while helping others

The CRUSH Recovery Community Center offers peer support and connection to substance use disorder resources.
The CRUSH Recovery Community Center offers peer support and connection to substance use disorder resources.
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On the third floor of Cedar Rapids' Human Services building, service is the focus of the new Recovery Community Center.

"When they first walk in our focal point is, 'How can I help you with your recovery today?'" Debbie Courtney points out a sign just inside the entrance to the spacious center. "That's the first thing they're gonna see."

This is one of four RCC's in Iowa, thanks to grants from the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Science Collaborative, and SAHMSA.

"The heartbeat of recovery community centers is volunteers, the people that have that lived experience," says CRUSH RCC executive director Rod Courtney.

It's a new model in Iowa -- a peer-operated recovery center. The Courtneys started CRUSH of Iowa several years ago and Rod says he first learned about RCC's in 2018. He says its community support that connects people to recovery resources.

"It could be a starting point, it could be a place of maintaining. Absolutely is a place you can bring your skills and life experiences, if you have six months or a year, whatever experience you have," he says.

Experience. That's something the Courtneys have plenty of.

"It's something that came out of tragedy and it's helped me to heal," Rod says.

Debbie points out another object in the lobby: a framed portrait of a smiling young man holding a platter of cookies.

"So this is our son and a while back, several years ago, a neighbor moved in across the street and he was so excited he made them cookies," she smiles. "So we just feel that's a nice warm welcome for people when they come in, you know. You're here, you want a cookie? We're here for you."

The couple has been dreaming about offering such a welcoming place like this for years, after their son, Chad, passed away in 2016.

"We had recently lost our son to a fentanyl overdose and couldn't find anywhere to really turn to," Rod recalls.

This is now that place for so many others.

It's place to sit and share and help one another.

"Every day it gets bigger," Debbie says. "We now have a meeting just about every day, well, every day of the week now we do."

The center has been open to guests for more than 90 days and will welcome in the public with a grand opening celebration September 21 starting at 9 am.

All dedicated to the son who inspired it all.

"He said, 'I just want to make a difference,' Rod recounts a phone call with Chad as he was finishing one recovery program. "On that phone call, that conversation that night he said, 'Dad, I just want to make a difference.' And somewhere about six weeks later he was dead. So for me to kind of be able to pick up that banner for him because he, like so many people with substance use disorders had a tremendous amount of skills, such a tremendous amount of love and energy that he was not able to kind of fulfill that."

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CRUSH of Iowa will recieve a $100 donation thanks to our Pay It Forward sponsors, Carlos O'Kellys and CopyWorks.

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