Take a guess, how many individuals do you think are in long-term recovery from addiction in Berks County? 500? 1,000? 15,000? 32,000? Saturday, September 19, 2015 at Berks County’s big celebration for National Recovery Month, it was announced that an estimated 32,000 individuals in Berks are in recovery. According to national research, over 23.5 Million Americans are in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. When applied to the population in Berks County, that makes for about 32,000 people.
In honor of National Recovery Month, two big events were held on Saturday, September 19, to bring the community together to celebrate recovery. The day began at Reading Area Community College where about 400 individuals gathered for a Recovery Walk, and those participating were given bright yellow t-shirts.
Walkers were welcomed by a few speakers before beginning the march down Penn Street in Reading, PA. Yvonne Stroman, one of the coordinators of the day’s events, began with saying, “Recovery feels good people, how about you?” The response came in a round of applause and cheer, foreshadowing the energetic day. Berks County Commissioner, Christian Leinbach, spoke of the importance of coming alongside those individuals who are struggling with addiction, and letting them know they are not alone. “When you step in the right direction, there are people, there are organizations and there are resources to say ‘We are with you, we believe in you, let’s go down this road together.’” Fellow Commissioner, Kevin Barnhardt, joined in on the walk to City Park to show his support, as well.
Drew Eisenhauer, a person in long-term recovery, spoke of the hope he found in life through recovery. He recently celebrated 38 years of sobriety. “Today I live in the solution. I was hopeless and lost and depressed and now I am alive and I’m full of energy, and grateful to be here,” he said to the crowd.
At 11 a.m. the crowd began walking up Penn Street with Jodi Holland, Executive Director of Easy Does It Inc., at the lead. The energy ran high as a sea of yellow shirts filled Penn Street. People cheered, clapped, and car horns beeped the whole way to City Park. When the walkers reached City Park they were met by dozens of others as Soberstock was getting ready to begin. Soberstock is an afternoon event full of live music, guest speakers, food vendors and kid activities. About 700 people gathered at City Park for the celebration, which lasted until about 5:30 on Saturday.
Berks County continued its National Recovery Month celebration on October 1 at the County Commissioner’s Meeting. The room was packed with close to 100 individuals showing their support and gratitude for prevention, treatment, intervention and recovery services. Attendees included members of the recovery community, friends, family, employees of the recovery houses and more. A few individuals spoke of their personal stories and how they have benefited from the services offered by Berks County organizations like the YMCA, Easy Does It, Inc., Berks Counseling Center and the Council on Chemical Abuse. Read more about the Commissioner’s Meeting HERE.
Do you have pictures to share? Email them to Jkaucher@cocaberks.org.
Article published 9/23/15. Edited 10/1/15.