Thank you for visiting our 2018 End-of-Year Giving Campaign page. We are celebrating #GivingTuesday on November 27, and combining it with an overall end-of-year campaign.
End-of-year gifts provide much needed support that helps carry us through the year. Often, end-of-year gifts are used to help purchase emergency homelessness supplies, keep our community centers up and running, and keep food available across our spaces and especially during the coldest months of the year.
Thank you for any gift you are able to make, and for helping to share this campaign on social media! If you'd prefer to give the gift of a specific item, you can also check out our Amazon wish lists here!
The Western Mass RLC grew out of the vision and advocacy of people who've 'been there' themselves; Who have struggled - who still sometimes struggle - but who see the value in sharing their struggle and what they learn from it with others. As a community, we started with one center (Holyoke) and a lot of great intention on creating a peer-to-peer network of support. Ten years later, here's a bit about where we are:
Peer-to-peer support & genuine human relationships: We offer a variety of support groups including Alternatives to Suicide, Hearing Voices, LGBTQQIA+-centered meetings, trauma related gatherings, and more. We also offer a peer respite (Northampton) where people can stay for up to a week to avoid hospitalization and get non-clinical support to move through dark times. (Pictured to the left is a drawing of Afiya. Click on the picture to see a short film about the house and peer respites in general.) We have three resource centers (Holyoke, Springfield, Greenfield, with plans to re-open as soon as possible in Pittsfield) where people can visit for connection, computer access, and more. We also facilitate a Peer Support phone line, homelessness related supports and resources, and distribute small grants for professional and educational pursuits to individuals who've faced a great deal of adversity and struggle in life.
Alternative healing practices: We offer free access to yoga, Reiki, acupuncture, meditation, and more. Our main focus here is to ensure that people have choices, regardless of whether what they choose is a conventional or alternative approach (or a mix of both).
Learning Opportunities: We realized early on
that - as important as supports for individuals are - they aren't
enough on their own to change the world. So, we decided that we would do
all we could to increase focus on creating spaces where people can learn,
consider new ideas, share perspectives, etc. This has meant offering a
host of public events and trainings on a variety of topics including
trauma, self-injury, hearing voices, racism, suicide, and more, as well
as film screenings from near and far. It's also included producing films like 'Beyond the Medical Model' and 'The Virtues of Non-Compliance,' and writing books like our recently published Peer Respite Handbook. We also offer trainings on Hearing Voices, Alternatives to Suicide, gender, trauma, language, etc. locally, nationally, and internationally.
Advocacy: Over the years - through both our own experiences and from supporting one another - we've learned the importance of reclaiming the right to say 'no,' make informed choices, and question what we're told. Sometimes it is life saving. And so, we've also learned to prioritize advocacy, including supporting people to get their voices heard at appointments, publishing information about people's rights, and even creating opportunities for people to come together for rallies and other group opportunities to push back and be heard.
Because our community is not defined by any one physical space, and is made up of more than just paid employees, our reach is limitless. Our ideas and work have attracted attention from across the world. Ultimately, we believe that wherever we gather is where the Western Mass RLC exists.
That said, and in spite of the fact that we know what we offer impacts many people in many ways, we receive only a fraction of a percentage of all the dollars set aside to support people who are struggling, or to do any of the other work that we do. Often, we find ourselves stretching to (and beyond) our limits to keep things rolling and growing. That can be hard at times, but it also means we make the absolute most of every dollar we receive.