Lonnie Labonte and his mother, Kathie Williams, officially opened The Larry Labonte Recovery Center at 412 Waldo St. in Rumford. It offers free counseling, resources and peer support for people with substance use disorder and mental health issues. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — A new resource center for people dealing with addiction, substance use disorder and mental health issues has opened at 412 Waldo St.

The Larry Labonte Recovery Center offers a nonjudgmental safe place to find resources to improve community wellness at no cost.

Leading the effort are Lonnie Labonte, owner of Arbe’s Carpet and Tile Center, and his mother, manager Kathie Williams. The center, located in a section of the store, is a tribute to Labonte’s father and former Arbe’s owner, Larry Labonte, who died in 2015 after struggling with addiction throughout his life, his son said.

“I’m really excited about this because I think this is something the community needs,” Labonte said. “This is a great location because it’s right in the middle of town and many who don’t have means of transportation can walk to the center.”

It’s set up for walk-ins, he said.

The center will not give advice, but instead set people up with counselors and resources they can use . . . “connecting people to the right recovery path.” Participants will be offered recovery training and peer-to-peer support,” Labone said. “And if someone needs to meet here after hours, they need to schedule it and someone will be here.”

Williams said Self-Management And Recovery Training meetings will be held for those with substance use disorder, and recovery coaches will be available.

She said among those attending the grand opening were members of the Portland Recovery Community Center and Gordon Smith from Gov. Janet Mills’ Opioid Task Force, who spoke about centers and sober houses in the state. “He is invested in getting people in recovery rather than jail, understanding that jail isn’t solving the problem,” she said.

Labonte and Williams credited community support for bringing their vision to reality.

“The people in the community have been very generous and all these combined is what got our doors open, but the Adam Gatchell Mud Run was the one that made us feel ready to start the major construction and get this rolling,” Williams said. The mud run raised $8,500 for the center.

“We’ve had between 15 and 20 people help us out, between fundraising and doing all the legwork in building this place,” Labonte told the room full of people attending the grand opening and ribbon-cutting Monday. “It’s been quite the transformation into what it is now. It’s all thanks to the volunteers and to the businesses and the community donating to us.”

The handicapped-accessible facility features a lounge, a laptop and free Wi-Fi access for career exploration.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Support groups meet from 7-8 p.m. Wednesdays. Hours will expand when there is a paid, full-time employee to augment the volunteer staff. The center can be reached at 418-4983.

Labonte said he would like to include social events that don’t involve drinking or drugs, such as a cribbage tournament, in the future.

People can contribute to the center by taking returnable cans and bottles to Ralph’s Store on Cumberland Street in Rumford and requesting the money be donated to the center, according to Williams.

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