Reflections on the Recovery Walk

As we come to the close of Recovery Month, it has become ever clearer how fitting this year’s theme was: Recovery is for Everyone: Every Individual, Every Family, Every Community. As the executive director of The Council of Southeast PA and PRO-ACT, I have the privilege of hearing so many recovery stories and, this year in particular, the truth of that statement is powerful.

Knowing how important gratitude is to recovery, I would like to acknowledge and share deep appreciation for those who worked tirelessly to ensure our region has a deep and resilient recovery community. Those of us working in recovery-oriented organizations owe a debt of gratitude to those who had a vision for a different way forward and helped create a new way of understanding a community approach to recovery.

Here in Southeastern PA, those individuals include my predecessor at The Council, Beverly Haberle; former DBHIDS Commissioner Dr. Arthur Evans, who is now CEO of the American Psychological Association; and current DBHIDS Deputy Commissioner Roland Lamb, to name a few.  Roland retires at the end of this month, so I also want to extend my deep thanks to him for his support and leadership – and to the support he has extended to our organization

It is truly an exciting time to be leading an organization that provides peer-based recovery supports. Those who have sought to become certified recovery specialists — or for those in mental healthcare, certified peer specialists — have developed into, to paraphrase Tom Coderre, “a workforce of consequence.” Peers are working in critically important roles in recovery centers like ours, on staff at treatment providers, in hospital emergency departments across the region, in mobile response units, in health clinics, with police departments, and so much more. This robust demand for peers means employers have had to develop creative retention strategies and work to ensure they embrace a peer-friendly culture, provide supportive supervision, and opportunities for advancement.

Peers are meeting people where they are and educating and engaging them with an approach that embraces multiple pathways, is trauma informed, and delivers on the unconditional belief that Recovery Is For Everyone!

This month we hosted our 20th annual Recovery Walks!, held virtually in the interest of keeping our community as safe as possible. Thousands of people came together online, walked in their own community, and helped paint a vibrant, enthusiastic picture of what recovery looks like in our region. It was truly inspirational.

Tom Hill, now with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was one of many leaders who made time to share remarks as part of the program. When describing his path and work in this field, he identified that his life in recovery has given him — and it seems to capture the spirit shared by so many others: “A life beyond my wildest dreams!”

This Recovery Month, I can’t think of a better wish for each and every member of the recovery community!

Author: Jennifer King, Executive Director, The Council of Southeast PA/PRO-ACT

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