Sandy Severin-Pansecchi is the administrative manager at FIRST Steps Together in Pittsfield, which provides peer coaching and parenting support for parents that are pregnant or postpartum, recovering from any substance use disorder.
In the program, family recovery support specialists conduct home visits and provide support in accessing other community-based services to help with food, diapers, and housing, along with any other needs specific to the person.
Severin-Pansecchi said she is proud to be part of an effort that makes such a profound impact on the families it serves. “We are here to give help and hope to parents who are working to attain sobriety and to get through the journey of recovery,” she said.
The program also offers group therapy, parenting groups, activities for kids, referrals for healthcare and substance use treatment, free clothing, and books related to motherhood.
“Our environment is nonjudgmental,” said Severin-Pansecchi, so mothers feel comfortable sharing concerns and questions. “This is important, because the stigma around mental health and substance use disorder is so damaging, especially during the opioid epidemic,” she said.
FIRST Steps Together provides support for parents’ recovery and parenting journeys from someone with lived experience who has been there and understands, according to Severin-Pansecchi. “Most of us are mothers, and most of us are in recovery from some sort of addiction,” she said. “The best part of working for FIRST Steps Together is we are making a difference in the lives of people who otherwise may not get the help they need. That is an amazing feeling.”