By LIAM MAYO
HONESDALE, PA – At their meeting on Thursday, September 9, Wayne County commissioners issued a proclamation declaring September to be the month of national recovery in the county.
The proclamation said, in part, that “treatment and recovery services for mental disorders and addiction and concurrent disorders are effective, and people can recover and recover in our region and across the country.”
During the proclamation, Commissioners heard from representatives of the Wayne County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Wayne County Psych Rehab Program and Wayne County Behavioral Health, as well as people recovering with each of these organizations.
Steve Bair has spoken both as a DUI coordinator with the Drugs and Alcohol Commission and as a recovering person, speaking about the stigma that comes with the recovery process.
The opportunity to talk about his experiences had arisen the year before, Bair said, but he hadn’t felt comfortable talking openly about his experiences at that time. Since then, through conversation and soul-searching, he had realized that the best way forward was to take the opportunity to speak.
“I have chosen to speak today so that the stigma of addiction can change,” he said.
Other recovering people in attendance spoke about the support they had received from Wayne County community services.
Kelly Wietry, who has been recovering for three and a half years, said that although she was forced to recover initially, “just the love you get when you walk in the door” helped her stay on the road. She was still friends with people she had met while recovering, she said; she was getting married in two weeks, and some of them would be there.
Another recovering person Autumn DeLong-VanDerhoff said Wayne County services helped hold her accountable. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard to stay sober.” Drugs and Alcohol Commission counselor Jim Simpson confirmed and praised the steps Autumn took to recover; she walks through weather, snow and ice to make appointments, he said, because she doesn’t have reliable transportation.
Several people recovering with Wayne County Behavioral Health also spoke, talking about their struggles and successes in recovering from mental disorders.
Carolyn Smith spoke of a period in her life when she faced several tragedies in rapid succession, losing four family members over a six-month span. She had suffered such a nervous breakdown that she couldn’t speak anymore, and working from there to talk about her experiences in front of a crowded room had been a long journey.
Bonnie Smith also spoke, listing all of the accomplishments that had been made possible by the psychological rehabilitation program: she had been out of the hospital for three years, led a healthier lifestyle and was in a caring relationship, among other successes.
Commissioners congratulated all who spoke, saying it was a big step forward for those in recovery to have the courage to tell their story.
They proclaimed September of National Salvage in Wayne County and said it would be observed in several ways: through Salvage Month road signs, through advertisements on Bold Gold Radio and through the Wayne County Drug and Alcohol Facebook page.
There would also be recovery month events, commissioners said, at the Fred R. Miller Memorial Pavilion on Main Street in Honesdale on Sept. 15, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and on the lawn of the County Courthouse in Wayne September 22, noon to 3:00 p.m. Information on accessing services in Wayne County will be provided, along with an explanation of how the recovery community can be supported.
The River Reporter will publish special pages on the recovery community on September 30. If you have a story to tell, contact Editor-in-Chief Annemarie Schuetz, [email protected]; to support the section with personal notes of encouragement and publicity, contact [email protected]