There’s hope for those who’ve lost loved ones to drug ad­dic­tion

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Bill Ret­tew bret­tew@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com

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.

BILL RET­TEW JR. – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

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