There’s hope for those who’ve lost loved ones to drug addiction
It was a time to remember and a time to look ahead.
Those lost to the disease of addiction were honored Thursday during International Overdose Awareness Day at the Charles A. Melton Community Center.
The all-volunteer Pennsylvania Recovery Organization-Achieving Community Together organized “‘Building Community, Sharing Hope,’ an evening of fellowship, hope and stories of survival as well as remembrance for those we have lost to this disease,” said John Gailey III, PRO-ACT Chester County Advisory Board Chair.
Alison Slickers, peer leader coordinator, helped organize the event.
“We’re here tonight to remember those who were lost to addiction and at the same time bring the community together and show that re- covery is possible,” she said. “There is hope for people struggling with the disease of addiction.”
The event featured a buffet dinner, three keynote speakers, audience sharing, a luminary ceremony and a moment of silence.
Speakers included a family who lost a son to overdose in January, a 24-yearold with five months of recovery and someonewho has been sober formore than 20 years.
Chester County’s PROACT is a two-and-a-half-year old nonprofit grassroots advocacy and recovery support initiative overseen by The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.
The full council also oversees programs in Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery counties and Philadelphia.
Thirty volunteers in the county work with about 180 participants to offer support from a peer-based community to those seeking longterm recovery with their families.
“We educate the community about the disease of addiction, recovery and support,” Gailey said. “We help people achieve long-term recovery and prevent frequent admissions to the detox and rehab centers.”
The organization currently has no permanent physical space, while developing a strategic plan.
While PRO-ACT supports gateways to employment and provides job skills, participants also go on picnics, take bowling outings, watch films on addiction and hold remembrance events like Thursday’s.
PRO-ACT collaborates with both local organizations and government to identify and remove barriers to recovery, hosts the region’s largest advocacy leadership program and educates while reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with addiction, according to a brochure distributed by the council.
The council also mobilizes, trains and supervises volunteers. Volunteers are needed. Volunteers help people in recovery set goals, put a positive face on recovery and acknowledge multiple pathways to recovery, while encouraging hope, optimism and healthy living, according to the brochure.
Volunteer training is available every month. Commu- nity members may also become a peer member, with direct contact to individuals and family, or they can join a committee.
Formore information call 800-221-6333.
John Gailey III, left, and Alison Slickers remember those taken by addiction during Thursday’s “Building Community, Sharing Hope” event at the Melton Community Center.