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Former convent in Lower Mills to become halfway house for women with substance-abuse problems

The Zoning Board of Appeal today unanimously approved a plan by the Gavin Foundation of South Boston to turn the former St. Gregory convent at 2200 Dorchester Ave. in Dorchester Lower Mills into a 30-bed halfway house for women trying to recover from substance abuse.

Gavin CEO John McGahan said the exterior of the former convent building would remain the same; all the work would be done inside.

McGahan said women accepted into the program would spend four to six months as residents, with personalized treatment programs aimed at helping them deal with their substance abuse and gain skills to find jobs after they leave. He said the center would be staffed around the clock - with five full-time workers during the day, three in the evening and two overnight.

He said that although the program will accept women from Mass and Cass., they will come to Lower Mills only after completing medical detox and then a further clinical program first.

He said the program will be aimed at single women. However, women who are pregnant when they arrive will be allowed to stay with their child in the program for up to three months if they give birth while still a participant.

The mayor's office and City Councilors Frank Baker (Dorchester), Michael Flaherty (at large) and Ed Flynn (South Boston) and state Sen. Nick Collins supported the proposal.


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It is programs like Gavin that do their best to give dignity and safety to those in most need a chance to move away from there. The convent has good vibes, the park, the church, the local stores, and the community will help also. As a 7 year employee of Gavin and a local resident I am all in!

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Hope Mini Methadone Mile doesn't erupt in beautiful Lower Mills, why is one of the few commercial districts not plauged by open air use no hosting a 6 month 30 bed halfway House next to a Grammer School? Anyone in Dorchester who lives south of Ashmont St needs a trip to Bradston St. Vulnerable individuals have the effect of making everyone around them vulnerable too. Not sure we should be thrilled, no high quality jobs for communitty, no communitty discussion. Its not a good look. Methamphetamine is a terrible drug.
Does The Galvin Foundation have a plan as to manage, drug use, human trafficking, and violence by the residence to keep it out of community? or do they plan to just plan to discharge clients into street if they relapse. Ashmont Station has dealers just waiting and none of the above mentioned Pols have helped with that mess, Is baby mamma's daddy gonna be hawking my 15 yr old in the Library after visiting hour? We need this?

Addiction is and illness with high risk, high morbidity, and low success rate for recovery. The Gavin Foundation is huge now, not the working guys house of 25 yrs ago, Dorchester has a lot of Addiction services and housing, its highly burdened and this population is difficult to treat. Why destroy a good quality of life? Or is that just happens to Dorchester residents decade after decade? I always wanted a house there, glad I bought in another neighborhood. When is the Community Meeting?

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That group does fantastic work. They've helped countless teens and adults with addiction.

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I wish them luck!

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A wonderful re-purposing of a building.
I wonder if it's anything like the convent at Saint Joseph School in Roxbury was. Do convents in Boston follow the same general floodplain?
Each nun had her individual 'cell' if you'll pardon the expression; also a large meeting room on the lower floor or basement.

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Not that I know of, unless they happened to be by the same architect.
Form follows function, of course.
From what I've heard from family members in religious orders, and the little I've seen of convents in renovation... I'd say most purpose-built convents around here tended to be mostly single rooms or maybe a few doubles. It might also depend on if they were purpose-built for a particular Order, what their charism was, and what rules of living they operated under at the time.

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Thanks @Rob. What about a central large meeting room, was that standard? The floor doesn't really matter.

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The ones I'm familiar with would have some sort of parlor or gathering room, yes. Besides whatever actual "down time" they got, the ones in teaching orders would be spending some of their "at home" time doing lesson plans and grading papers.
Usually*, there'd also be a single dining room or kitchen large enough for the whole group to eat in.
* "usually" - meaning most of the places I'm thinking of would be a dozen or two sisters. I have no idea how a large place like, oh... Saint Peter's convent on Bowdoin St was laid out. That building is enormous, no idea how many were there at one time at their peak. A bit daunting to imagine a parlor or dining room for 48 at a time.

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An appropriate use for a building that was part of a caste system where women were always 2nd class. Granted a convent hopefully provided women who took the veil with protection from male predators, or when necessary, protection from abusive fathers.

But it is important to remember that the emotional and spiritual sources of drug abuse are spiritual, emotional and physical violence against girls and women, treating female human beings as 2nd class (as is done in many "traditional" religions) and simply being alive in a a society that until only a few decades ago still treated women (especially emotionally hurting women) as things to be controlled. That includes controlling their bodies even to the point of forced sterilizations when young women were seemingly "uncontrollable" by family leaders. Add to that societal salad one where until a few years ago sexual objectivization of women, demeaning women to be "toys" for predatory men, was tolerated.

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Maybe when your proposal for a 30 bed halfway house for those in recovery is released we can similarly scrutinize it.

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Gavin foundation

- Archdiocese has actively excluded parents and families of students at SJP2 from participation in this decision

- None of the parents concerns about security in place or building a barrier to separate the program from school premises was addressed , the program has an exit that brings you directly onto our schools play ground

- Several parents submitted appeals to the zoning board via email they were not heard on today’s call nor were the parents who had their hand raised to speak on the concerns were selected to speak.

The whole process was completely done in the dark and the parents or families of the students that attend SJP has received no answers, no accommodations and no voice in this decision.

It’s really sad and unfortunately a very disrespectful process considering we pay tuition, have no input and our voice was not heard for our children.

We have children as young as 2.9 - 8th grade

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As a parent of a child that attends St. John Paul Catholic Academy Lower Mills, I am very concerned for the safety of our children and community. Families and neighbors were not a part of this decision making process. I am extremely upset.

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As someone who has read the terrible reviews, by employees and people who sought treatment at other Gavin Foundation treatment centers, citing a lack of supervision and using in the facilities, I am very concerned about the school on the same lot! Just Google reviews for the Gavin Foundation, and see that they’re all either terrible or clearly fake. I talked with the neighbors who are suing to stop this from happening, and they were very open to hearing my concerns and making sure that they were heard.

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I think those who are concerned about this happening in their neighborhood/by their school, need more information and reassurance about how the program will be run.
I attended a well-run halfway house for women, Emerson house run by Gosnold in Falmouth. I have only good things to say about how well-run it was. We had to remain on premises and any visitation or leaving the premises had strict rules, even down to when we could use our phones. The classes held at the facility are the strong point. It’s one thing to house people but quite another to offer and require attendance in quality recovery classes.

Substance abuse can be a garden variety of things but the point is, people are there because they want to get better. Sure, crazy things can happen and people not work out but in those cases, they do not hang out nearby- they would rather run away.

A home like this for new mothers is so important too, although 3 months seems hardly enough time but minimum requirement.

Bottom line, it’s how they run it, like a tight ship, that will make all the difference and save many lives.

When thinking of people with substance use disorders, remember that it can hit anyone, all walks of life- no discrimination there. People can move on and become success stories. This facility can be that start.

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