NORTH ADAMS -- Three months after moving into its newly renovated space at 124 American Legion Drive, the Brien Center opened its doors to the community Thursday night for an open house.
The Brien Center, which was located on Marshall Street, and its Adult Day Health Center, which was located on Curran Highway, moved into the 16,000 square foot building -- once home to the Transcript -- on March 23.
"It's an absolutely wonderful space which centralizes all of our services into a single Northern Berkshire facility," Interim CEO Christine MacBeth said Thursday. "The renovations we did were made possible by Scarafoni Associates, which helped fund the renovations. Everything was done to our specifications and we have a lease buy-back agreement with them."
For many community members who toured the facility, the building was barely recognizable. The former press room, which was known for its cavernous ceilings, is now a series of brightly lit rooms -- with a glass back door that overlooks the train tracks -- hosts several of the mental health organization's programs, including the Adult Day Health Center, the Community Based Flexible Services program and the Northern Lights Wellness Center.
"The people we serve love the bright light and watching the passing trains from this room," she said.
CFO Tim Armstrong said that he's heard time-and-time again from the staff that they "love the new space."
"It's just amazing
The Brien Center, which provides mental health and substance abuse services for children and adults, has just under 100 employees in Northern Berkshire.
"About 70 work out of this facility," MacBeth said. "The others provide services in the community or work at our residential home."
The front office space, once home to the Transcript and Advocate offices, is now home to the organizations adult and children's clinical services and the South 40 teen program.
"I have tremendous respect for what this organization does and has evolved from since opening in the city in the 1970s," Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said during the open house. "The Brien Center moving was a very scary thought to me. My first thought was how do we keep it here; it has to stay here in North Adams because of the services it provides but also because of the economy. If we talk about that economic piece, it is very important to the city."
He added, "But even more important are the services it provides to the city."
MacBeth said the relocation of the center wouldn't have been possible without the support of many individuals and groups throughout north county.
"There's a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Well it's taken a community to get us here," MacBeth added.