About Anchor Recovery

The Anchor Recovery Community Center Story.

Our Philosophy

At Anchor Recovery Community Center, we know that there are many different paths to recovery. We want to encourage yours. By becoming a member, you’ll have access to a variety of programming, from AA meetings to holistic wellness activities. You’ll be able to take advantage of employment services like job interviewing and computer literacy skills to help you build your career. Most importantly, you’ll be part of a network of supportive people that encourage your journey to a healthier life. 

The Anchor family of programs includes our main location (Temporary) in Providence, a center on the campus of the Kent County YMCA in Warwick, and two outreach programs: Anchor ED and AnchorMORE. Anchor also provides recovery support services in collaboration with the Health Equity Zone led by Thundermist Health Center in West Warwick and in all units of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.

We’re entirely run by people with lived experience with addiction recovery and our allies who have experience with the recovery journey. Come down to Anchor and become a member today!

History

Anchor’s first Director James Gillen (right)

Anchor’s original location in Downtown Pawtucket was opened by The Providence Center (TPC) in December of 2010. At that time, national statistics ranked Rhode Island as the state with the highest rate of substance use related problems in the country, and research pointed to a significant gap in treatment. Many Rhode Islanders went from receiving intensive residential or daily substance use support to the opposite extreme, a monthly clinical appointment with little community support. Under the leadership of TPC’s Director of Recovery Support Services, James Gillen, and Associate Vice President of Addiction and Recovery Services, Holly Fitting, Anchor was able to fill that void, providing people with a network of peers and recovery-oriented programming.

In January of 2013, Anchor opened its second location in Warwick, and outreach programs Anchor ED (Emergency Department) and Anchor MORE (Mobile Outreach Recovery Efforts) began in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Since its inception, Anchor has become a national leader in the peer recovery movement, and the destination for thousands of Rhode Islanders looking for recovery support.

In December of 2018 Anchor moved to a temporary location inside the Jim Gillen Teen Center at 1280 N. Main St in Providence.

Leadership

Michael O’Neill ACDP, CCSP, CPRS – Manager of Anchor Community Centers, Anchor MORE, and Safe Stations

Michael serves as the manager of Recovery Services, providing Anchor Recovery Coaches with clinical supervision and providing quality education and training for their continued professional development. Michael has trained hundreds of peers in pursuit of state licensure as Certified Peer Recovery Specialists. He has been a key trainer of Anchor's Recovery Coach Academy. His work in the recovery field began with The Providence Center in 2011 working as an outreach coordinator with the RESPECT program. Michael is a US Army veteran.

Melissa Bernier - Manager of Anchor Warwick

Melissa started working at Anchor as a peer recovery specialist in 2017. She was promoted to the Manager of the Warwick location in 2018 and is also a trainer of the Recovery coach academy. She is pursuing her degree in substance use disorder and is also working towards obtaining her LADC. Melissa feels very passionately about helping others.

Michelle Harter LCDP, RCP, CPRS - Community Liaison and Consultation Manager

Michelle M. Harter has served as an expert panelist in Washington, DC at forums on the power of peer support for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as well for the National Council on Behavioral Health.

George O'Toole - Emergency Department Manager

Gary Saint Laurent - Community Engagement and Special Events Manager

Gary is an experienced manager of Volunteers and Special Events with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization management industry. He has worked with organizations such as WaterFire Providence, New England Aquarium, Amos House Special Events, and PechaKucha Nights Providence. In 2013 he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree focused in Sports, Event, and Entertainment Management. from Johnson & Wales University.

Rachel Ferrara, MSW - Operations Manager

Rachel serves as the Operations Manager for Anchor Recovery Community Center as of February 2020. As Operations Manager, Rachel is responsible for data collection and reporting, employment services, the day-to-day operation of Anchor Recovery’s Providence location and additional tasks that support the Anchor Team. Rachel has experience working in mental health recovery, centers for independent living, domestic violence and not-for-profit management.