Milford's Room4 offers services to young adults

When Alexander, 18, isn't working hard in school, he loves to play pool, talk to people, make friends and relax in a cozy, safe environment.

The Milford teen has found he can do all those things in a program launched a year ago in Milford called Room4, which offers young adults, ages 18 to 25, community resources, outreach services and a place to talk to someone who will listen to their needs. Room4 is a place where young adults can drop in for any reason without making an appointment.

The drop-in center, located at 570 Boston Post Rd., is run by Bridges, a city mental health agency.

Alexander said he appreciates the fact that the staff members are always looking for new ideas for social events.

He also likes Room4 because he does not have to change who he is to make people like him.

"My favorite aspect of Room4 is I can be myself,” he said.

Tonya Steskla, the program manager for Room4, explained that Bridges was given a grant by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for a young adult drop-in center, something she said was needed in Milford.

When it opened in February of 2015, “The goal of this grant was to link young adults with community resources," Steskla said.

She explained that Room4 assists with linking students to any services they need. This includes everything from drug addiction therapy to employment outreach. The name “Room4” stands for whatever young adults have “room for” in their lives, she said.

This includes counseling with peer mentors, overall wellness, plus activities like martial arts classes on Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. and yoga classes from 6 to 8.30 p.m. There are also special group social sessions on Mondays and sometimes on Friday, where students either stay for an event or go out in the community.

Catherine Knoedler, a peer mentor at Room4, enjoys the experience of working with a wide range of young adults. “I have learned that every person coming here has a story," Knoedler said. “They are all at different points in their life."

She also said she enjoys the relaxation and meditation in the center’s yoga class.

Marcy Hotchkiss, director of communications and development at Bridges, said Room4 provides young adults with a much-needed place to socialize. Hotchkiss emphasized that she would like to see more students come to the program, and she would like to see the services expand.

“Young people need a safe space to socialize,” she said.

State Reps. Pam Staneski and Charles Ferraro stopped in recently to tour the center.

“What a terrific community asset,” Staneski said. “Milford is lucky to have such a dedicated place and staff to work with on whatever their needs are.”

Ferraro praised the resources that Room4 provides.

“We are thrilled to have Room4 right in our backyard and encourage young adults and professionals to take advantage of all of the amazing resources they offer,” he said.