GREENSBURG – Almost 250 community leaders, local citizens and members of the recovery community attended the Celebrate Recovery Unity Banquet at the First Christian Church’s Family Life Center recently.

Board members, recovery supporters and even student representatives of The Landing donned CR Unity t-shirts to serve their guests in a show of community cooperation Thursday at the annual event.

Serving roasted pork loin with all the trimmings “family-style” to their guests for the evening, members of Recover Out Loud, Foundations for Recovery, Speranza House and Celebrate Recovery busily milled about, carrying full trays of food, empty dishes and beverage refills to public donors as recovery leaders addressed the crowd from the stage.

Teresa Ruble of Speranza, Matt Whipple of Foundations for Recovery, Janell Coomer of Celebrate Recovery and John Cunningham of Recover Out Loud spoke with eloquence as they answered various questions from moderator Terry Canfield concerning their organizations in a question/answer forum for part of the evening.

Ruble answered questions about Speranza’s growing list of in-house services, mentioning her recent work applying for Recoveryworks, a state government organization dedicated to increasing the availability of specialized mental health treatment and recovery services in the community for those facing incarceration.

Answering the question “How great is the need for recovery housing?,” Whipple cited recent Surgeon Generals’ statistics finding 10 percent of the US population affected by addiction.

“[Approximately] 66,000 Hoosiers annually have the need for recovery housing, and there are currently 1,700 beds, so we only serve two percent of that population. So there’s a need,” Whipple explained.

Canfield then asked ROL Director John Cunningham, “What one thing do you want people to know about Recover Out Loud?”

“We want mostly to fill the gaps between the other resources like CR and Narcotics Anonymous, but mostly, we want people to know that recovery is possible for anyone,” Cunningham said. “And we emphasize recovery from a position of personal physical health and strength.”

“What makes CR different than any other recovery group?,” Canfield then asked.

Coomer addressed the question, telling the assemblage of when she visited her first CR Meeting, saying “I remember being surprised to learn that there was help in healing from what ‘I’ had done for not only myself, but for my mother, my husband, my children and my whole family.”

Of Ruble, Canfield asked “Describe a typical day at Speranza House.”

Ruble began, explaining that Speranza House currently houses seven women.

“And all seven women are employed, so a typical day starts early,” Ruble said. “And when you are a resident of Speranza, there are certain curriculum you have to complete, even if you have a job, so for each woman, the days starts in different ways.

“They come home from their jobs, do their house chores, and then attend a support meeting. And sticking to their own agendas is important, because when one is addicted, one is living a life of chaos, and trying to put together some structure and good clean living is an important part of addressing an addiction.”

Addressing Cunningham, Canfield asked what he felt most people in recovery lacked, and how ROL addressed that need.

“Well, to me, the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but it’s connection,” Cunningham said. “Connection with real life and with positive people throughout the day. That’s why ROL is so full of social events: people out there hangin’ with other people who’ve been there, supporting each other with strength. Softball teams, concerts – connecting people – people putting the ‘we’ back in ‘I.’”

Cunningham continued, complimenting Transitional Living Center’s Director Billy Austin, saying “Billy is the leader of ROL here in Greensburg, and – just wow – what a great job he’s doing of pulling everyone here together.”

“And the way you embraced Chrissy Ruble as the core leader here is just amazing. Thank you,” Cunningham finished.

After a few more questions for the panel, staunch supporter of the recovery community Sheriff Dave Durant took the podium to a lengthy standing ovation.

Durant began, saying, “I can tell you that, without a doubt, that God put me here.”

“For over half of the last 36 years, I was part of covert operations, working with K-9s and S.W.A.T. and then undercover, and drugs and alcohol were prevalent in all 36 years,” Durant said.

Durant’s speech continued for several minutes, but his opening quotes framed the evening most effectively.

“For a recovery banquet like this to have so many law enforcement officers attending – that just says an awful lot about the heart of this community and the spirit of cooperation here,” Durant said.

Durant told the audience of an opportunity he had early in his career to sit with Daryl Gates, the Los Angeles-based main organizer of the 1988 widely-celebrated drug education initiative, D.A.R.E.(Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and its core mission: “To combat the nation’s drug problem, we must combat the demand for drugs.”

Durant finalized his address, saying, “I depend a little bit on God, but for us to beat the drugs in Greensburg, we all, the recovery community and the law enforcement community, we have to partner together.”

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com

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