Stephen Landry – Gardner News
Published 5:33 a.m. ET Nov. 14, 2022
GARDNER – Residents at the Carl E. Dahl House at Evergreen Grove have a new way to travel along their path to recovery.
The GAAMHA substance recovery program located on the former LeBlanc Stables on Route140 recently received a donation of eight lightly used bicycles from Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.
Shawn Hayden, GAAMHA chief operating officer, said the donated bikes would be incredibly valuable for residents in the program in several ways.
“Obviously, they are helpful for getting around the area, but maybe even more important is the role they can play in a resident’s recovery,” Hayden said. “Physical health has a direct impact on a person’s mental health, and anytime we can get a person moving, we are helping them to recover.”
Residents at the Dahl House, a therapeutic farming community, learn to tend livestock, care for crops, and reconnect with nature while accessing the clinical support and recovery education that will position them for personal growth and contented sobriety. The facility’s primary clients are adult men who have been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder and who also have co-occurring mental and behavioral health needs.
“Sticking to our non-traditional method of treatment, we will be utilizing our nearby bike path to offer therapeutic services to the men in our program and look forward to engaging more with our community now that we have these bicycles to use,” said Amanda Harmon, GAAMHA clinical supervisor at Evergreen Grove.
The Carl E. Dahl House is located a short distance away from the North Central Pathway, a picturesque, paved trail that winds through Gardner into Winchendon.
“When individuals achieve sobriety, learn skills, and success while in recovery, they are less likely to commit crimes and stay on the right track, making our communities safer,” said Evangelidis. “The team at the Dahl House offers innovative programming and works toward true rehabilitation. The Sheriff’s Office is proud to support their services.”
Hayden said the donated bikes were a great example of the collaboration and outside-the-box thinking that allows GAAMHA to maximize the utility of its resources.
“If GAAMHA didn’t have the amount of support we do from donors, grant makers, local community organizations, and local, state, and federal officials, we wouldn’t be able to innovate and provide the high-quality services that we offer,” Hayden said.
The Dahl House opened last October, and Hayden said he was proud of how much the program had developed and grown over the past year.
“I think it was a fantastic and unique program the day it opened, but to see how much it has grown in the last year humbles and amazes me,” he said. “We’ve added ROOTS (outpatient program for younger people), we’ve added new animals, and we’ve graduated some incredibly hard-working and healthy people back into independent living and contented recovery. I can’t wait to see where things are in one, five, or 10 years from now.”
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, center, with members of the WCSO Webster community support staff, and staff and residents of the Carl E. Dahl House.