A nonprofit organization in Vermont’s Lamoille County will open its new facility this weekend, aiming to break down barriers to treatment for people with substance use disorders.
Jenna’s Promise is the creation of Dawn and Greg Tatro, in the name of their daughter who died in 2019 of a fentanyl overdose.
Dawn Tatro told NECN that when she was in and out of treatment, Jenna had promised her mom and dad that if she could just get clean, she’d devote her life to improving access to treatment and recovery.
“She hated the disease,” Dawn Tatro recalled, referring to her daughter’s opioid use disorder. “And she felt helpless in it. She used to say, ‘It owns me, mom.’ But she always wanted to help someone else get through it.”
The Tatros made Jenna’s Promise their promise, starting a nonprofit under that name operating in Johnson.
The organization supplies sober housing for women, job readiness classes, community-building space and other supports for folks looking to reenter society in good health — all with an attitude of ending stigma around getting help.
“We’re going to change the way addiction is looked at and the way we go about helping people,” Greg Tatro explained.
Crystal Bolio, who works with the North Central Vermont Recovery Center, said she has been in recovery from opioid use disorder for nearly 16 years.
“Helping other people find their paths out is just the most incredible feeling,” Bolio said.
In NCVRC’s new space, there will be programming for moms in recovery, a gym for physical fitness, and a kitchen — both to encourage group meals and better family nutrition.
The recovery center is located within the Jenna’s Promise building, providing complementary human services to the work the Tatros are doing in the name of their late daughter.
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“It’s a space of hope and it’s a space of pride,” Bolio said of the converted church that houses both organizations. “This represents recovery and getting well and being better and being a wonderful member of this community that we’re in. And I think you feel that as soon as you get here — the hope is just emanating from every corner.”
With isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic worsening the nation’s fatal overdose crisis, Jenna’s mom and dad are certain the wrap-around services offered through the new facility — what their daughter inspired — are more needed than ever in communities everywhere.
“She really did make a difference,” Dawn Tatro said.