Recovery and outreach center in Port Huron receives grant to open engagement center

The pathway toward recovery after addiction is never easy. 

The Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center (BWROC) received a $30,000 grant from the James C. Acheson Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of St. Clair County to fund an engagement center. 

The engagement center will provide a space for those who have relapsed and need a place to stay before they are emitted into treatment, says Executive Director of BWROC, Patrick Patterson. Sometimes it takes days or even a week until they are emitted and oftentimes, these people have no place to go. 
Patrick Patterson, Executive Director of the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center.
“This is a critical time in recovery because they’re going through withdrawals,” Patterson says. “When people are in a state of withdrawal they’re more likely to go out and commit a crime.”  

Before entering the engagement center, people will be asked to fill out an application form. From there, they will receive a clinical assessment. Once they’re checked in at the engagement center, they will be under surveillance by BWROC staff members. 

This new space will be located in the apartment above their outreach center at 617 10th St. in Port Huron and can hold up to four people at a time, with a maximum 3-day stay. The plan is to open the center sometime this year. Right now, the organization is receiving training on how to operate the new center before it opens. 

Randy Maiers, President and CEO of the Community Foundation, says the foundation has been a funder and partner of BWROC since they were formed and greatly value the services they provide in the community.  

“Their staff and volunteers have powerful personal lived experiences that they draw on to help other people in need,” Maiers says. “Our Acheson Donor Advised Fund was happy to provide the $30,000 grant to help BWROC expand their programs and services.” 

BWROC has grown from a mustard seed to probably the busiest recovery organization in three counties through the help of our community, Patterson says. 

Inside BWROC's engagement center's kitchen located in the apartment above their building at 617 10th St. in Port Huron

“They’re helping one more time through an engagement center,” Patterson says.  

The nonprofit opened in 2017 to help people who are struggling with addiction through recovery coaching, support groups, and transportation which are all located at their center. They also host events where people can come together and socialize in a substance-free environment. 

The true difference between us and other places is that we’re not clinical, Patterson says. We work complementary with the therapists. For people who are going through recovery, they can come here and work with others who have also gone through addiction. 

“I went through addiction myself and recovered in 2017,” Patterson says. By going through all the recovery programs, he noticed a lot of holes and gaps. By helping build BWROC, he believes the organization is filling the needs in the recovery space. 

Since opening, they’ve reached over 5,000 people through support groups, with 40% of people achieving sobriety. In January 2024, the organization had over 700 calls for help, making it the busiest month they’ve ever had. 

“That doesn’t necessarily mean in the big picture that addiction is increasing in Port Huron,” Patterson says. “It just means more people are coming to us.” 

What we’re seeing is that addiction is staying pretty steady in the area, he says. 45% of the people who come through their doors struggle with alcohol. He adds the biggest difference is that now higher rates of people are coming in struggling with meth and fentanyl. 

According to the St. Clair County Drug Task Force in 2021, Methamphetamines were the most seized drug in the county. St. Clair County is also among the top four counties in the state for the rate of opioid-related deaths
Recovery coaches gathering together at the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center for a week-long recovery coaching certification in the summer of 2022.
This organization is the quarterback of recovery, Patterson says. People need a pathway to recovery and no matter the substance, the key is to fill the void that led them to addiction. People don’t necessarily struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, they struggle from an addiction to being uncomfortable in their skin, selfishness or discontent. 

“Addiction is a disease of isolation,” Patterson says. “You come here and get your recovery coach who serves as your guide to recovery, it doesn’t guarantee you’re going to get there but by working with us, it’s certainly going to improve your probability.” 

Patterson concludes BWROC is fulfilling his life purpose. As the organization continues to grow, they will continue to foster strong relationships in the community

“We are saving lives,” Patterson says. “To be helpful to people takes a village and what we’ve seen is that our community and our village has come alongside us and we're just so thankful.” 
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Read more articles by Genevieve Fox.

Genevieve Fox is an award-winning journalist from Detroit. Since graduating from Michigan State University, she has built a solid background in environmental reporting and previous experience in radio broadcasting and photography at Great Lakes Echo and WKAR. She is now a freelance writer and a project editor for Metromode's series Macomb Live, Work, Play and Parks and Trails. When not working, she loves spending time outdoors and reading a good book. More by Genevieve Fox.