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Somerset House Makes Connections

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Somerset House Makes Connections

Even though it’s in a rural location along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Ontario, Somerset House strives to stay connected to community resources throughout Niagara County. Thanks to the teamwork of the staff at Somerset House, residents in the program are always busy. Notably, it’s incorporating many concepts from Reintegration, a redesigned OASAS element of residential care.

 We talked about our plans for converting our Community Residence programs to Reintegration earlier this year. While the staff at Somerset House are creating their own site-specific plans for Reintegration, the general idea remains the same. “Integrating into the community and fixing strained relationships in families are what’s going to sustain being substance-free,” said Erin DeWolfe, Somerset House’s Site Supervisor. At the Reintegration stage of recovery, research shows that one-on-one counseling might not be as essential as building skills, finding employment, reconnecting with families, and establishing long-term recovery plans. “Those other things are so important,” said Erin.

Volunteer Opportunities & Recovery Coaches

Over the last couple of years, the program has emphasized volunteer opportunities in the community. “Such a big part of recovery is giving back,” said Erin. Somerset House currently partners with an animal sanctuary, a horse farm, a food pantry, and more.

Mandy is a current resident of Somerset House, and she seeks out whatever she can to stay involved. For example, she recently volunteered at the animal sanctuary and really enjoyed it. “There are goats, pigs, a dog, chickens, roosters, you name it,” said Mandy. She got to feed some and even braided the hair on a horse. “I like animals,” Mandy said.

Mandy & Erin
Mandy and Erin at Somerset House

Somerset House is also actively engaged with Save the Michaels, a local recovery-based community organization. “They’re amazing,” Erin said. “I’m very thankful for them.” Mandy frequently volunteers with Save the Michaels by helping to fold clothes in their clothing closet.

Save the Michaels also has a fantastic network of recovery coaches. These are peers who have experience in recovery, and they help residents at Somerset House in their own recovery process. Mandy is currently working with a recovery coach from Save the Michaels, and she finds the connection to be very beneficial. “She makes sure that I have things that I need,” said Mandy. “A recovery coach is great to have.” In fact, some of the women at Somerset House are studying to become recovery coaches themselves.

A Rural Retreat

As mentioned above, Somerset House is in a very rural part of Niagara County, and this comes with some challenges due to the program’s goal of community reintegration. Many applicants see the location and immediately think that it’s not for them. They’ve known cities all of their lives and a rural location could be a bit of a culture shock. “Residents are scared that they’re far from their supports and sponsors,” explained Erin. Thankfully, the staff at Somerset House simply get creative and encourage networking to ensure that residents can stay connected to friends, family, and sober supports.

After a couple weeks in the program, however, most residents start to appreciate the location. Many go for walks to the lake. While they may be far from the cities they know, a stay at Somerset House can almost be seen as a rural retreat. According to Erin, the program gives residents “time to focus on themselves.” This means that they often have to begin to look inward, which certainly can be a challenge for anyone. Of course, the staff at Somerset House are always there to offer support and empowerment. “There are so many good things about this place,” said Erin.

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