By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The Friendship Center is on the move.
The longtime downtown organization has found a new home at 6 Railroad Ave. at the former Fraternal of Eagles building.
The building has been vacant for years and gives the nonprofit group 4,300 square feet of space to hold meetings and other special events.
Carol Bowden is chairman of Friendship Center’s board of directors. She said the new space is a dream come true.
“We looked at a few different places and this summer this opportunity came up,” Bowden said. “We needed to jump on this.”
The Friendship Center provides an affordable place for peer recovery support groups to meet, and also offers help with social service applications, computer access, job assistance, housing and more.
The Center is New England’s first Peer Recovery Center, fully owned and operated solely by the recovery community with only private donations, and through fees donated by recovery groups.
The Center spent 33 years at its former location on East Broadway, a storefront rental, that became too small for the organization’s plans.
Being in the new space will give the center added opportunities to help its mission grow, Bowden said. Owning the building is also a big plus.
Last Sunday was moving day. It was a swift move from Broadway to Railroad Avenue and only took a short time.
“The move took less than an an hour,” Bowden said.
Although the exact price for the building was not given, Bowden said the bank worked with Friendship Center to offer a great mortgage rate and was supportive all the way.
“They made it so we can afford it as a nonprofit,” she said.
Friendship Center is open seven days a week and sees hundreds of people on a regular basis.
There are structured meetings for those battling addiction and others just walk in seeking help.
The residents of Granite House, a sober-living facility on West Broadway, are also involved in the life of the Friendship Center. They volunteer their time and also participate in the center’s programming.
“We help so many people,” volunteer Kim Stone said. “They are helping me.”
Sue Spinney sits on the Friendship Center’s board of directors and said she loves the new space.
“This is a safe haven for so many people, not just those suffering (from addiction), but also their families,” she said. “It’s transformed lives; I’ve seen it.”
Bowden said having a new, larger space will only serve to help the Friendship Center grow in the community.
“It’s been a dream of ours to have our own building,” she said. “It’s very nostalgic to us, we love it.”
The Friendship Center will team up with Hope for New Hampshire for a “Celebrate Recovery” gala on Nov. 8 at Promises to Keep in Derry.
All proceeds will go to support the new building.
The gala includes giving out awards to community supporters, including Advocate of the Year, Business of the Year and the Phoenix Award.
All those involved in recovery, their family and friends are invited to attend. For information, call 421-0255.
To learn more about the Friendship Center in Derry or to support the new building, call 432-9794 or visit derryfriendshipcenter.org.