New counseling center for those in recovery subject of latest PROPAC meeting

The business is not licensed to administer medication assisted treatment (MAT), so no drugs such as methadone or suboxone will be given out by the counseling center.

The property at Miller and Ontario Streets.

A new recovery home called New Journeys in Recovery, which recently opened up in Port Richmond at the corner of Miller and Ontario streets, was the main topic of discussion at Wednesday night’s Port Richmond On Patrol and Civic meeting at Columbia Social Club. Residents wondered why the business, which, according to owner Larry Gallagher, is “an outpatient family counseling center focusing exclusively on behavioral health care,” was able to open in the neighborhood without presenting itself at a local community meeting.

According to Councilman Mark Squilla, who was present at the meeting, businesses trying to move into the community only have to present in front of residents if they’re seeking a variance from the zoning code. According to Squilla, the parcel of land New Journeys in Recovery moved onto is zoned industrial commercial mix, which allows for a counseling center.

“What [Licenses and Inspections] has told us is that the current use of counseling is permitted,” he said at the meeting.

The business is not licensed to administer medication assisted treatment, so no drugs such as methadone or suboxone will be given out by the counseling center. According to Gallagher, all who attend the counseling center are in recovery; none are presently addicted to substances.

“The best way to the neighbors to be at rest,” Gallagher told the Star, “is that if one of their sons or daughters comes in and they have a problem whether it be alcohol or opiate dependence, once they see we’re about helping people and healing the problem and it gets back to their families, I think they’ll understand better.”

Gallagher stressed they don’t provide drugs to patients. Nor do they provide syringes, food or clothing; it’s strictly a counseling center.

“No one’s out there to hurt anyone,” he said. “We’re out there to help people.”

Shannon Farrell, president of the Harrowgate Civic Association, announced at the meeting that Gallagher has another similar business in her neighborhood. She spoke highly of him and his involvement in the community.

“Larry has five recovery homes in our neighborhood and two counseling [centers],” she said, “We have no problem with this.”

Farrell said Gallagher is active in the community and will sometimes send representatives to Harrowgate’s civic meetings. Additionally, many of the patients at the counseling centers have made the community better in certain ways.

“They’re always very respectful and even helpful with turning in areas where drugs are being sold,” said Farrell, who noted that Gallagher does take time to listen with the community. “If you’re going to have [a counseling center], this isn’t a bad one to have.”

Sean McMonagle, Squilla’s legislative assistant who was also present at the meeting, echoed Farrell’s sentiments.

“I can tell you I’ve known Larry from my years in City Council at other locations,” he said. “He is very involved in the community. His guys are always there for the cleanups.”

Gallagher told the Star his organization is often involved with park cleanups, town watches and graffiti removal.

“I worked with the community,” he said. ”I went to all the community meetings, whatever they asked me to do I did.”