As the culmination of a month dedicated to addiction awareness, the public is invited to a recovery celebration at the Bishop City Park.
Throughout the month of September, National Recovery Month, there has been a push by the Inyo County Addictions Task Force and its partner agencies to raise awareness of those with addictions and those in recovery throughout Inyo County.
The groups’ campaign, “Communities United for Recovery,” has been a month of education, meant to open lines of communication and hopefully kickstarting lasting acceptance and support of those in recovery by the rest of the community.
A media campaign has allowed those in recovery to share their stories in this paper, and included outreach efforts that saw addiction specialists making presentations to groups like Altrusa International and Sunrise Rotary.
Health and Human Service Prevention Supervisor Karen Kong, who also helped spearhead the local observance, said the idea is to “break some of the stigma” surrounding addiction.
“It is not a mental failing,” Kong said. “Addiction can and does happen to anyone, but they can recover.”
She explained that recovering in a small town can be a double-edged sword. At the same time there is an outpouring of support, generosity and understanding, there can also be reputations and old perceptions that can be hard to shake.
“Give them the benefit of the doubt,” Kong replied to the question of what the community can do for those in recovery. Kong added that not judging people by their past is crucial to helping those in recovery continue down that positive path.
Kong said the response from the community has been “tremendous,” and added she was even more moved by the response of those in recovery. She said she was particularly inspired by a letter in the Thursday, Sept. 22 edition of The Inyo Register. “I hope the community can be more open-minded to people with addictions and support them instead of turning them away.”
The celebration at the front of the park, scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, will include food and music and family fun. There will also be a face painter and other fun stuff for the kids.
There will be an open mic for those wanting to share their stories, but Kong insisted there are “no expectations” for anyone who attends. “Just come sober.”
The party is also an opportunity for those in recovery who don’t want to make a public outing of their lives, but still want to be part of the community as it celebrates.
The party is sponsored by the Inyo County Addictions Task Force, Children’s Service Council, Inyo County Superior Court, the Alpine Center, Inyo County Health and Human Services and the Inyo County Probation Department.
Kong said she is always looking for volunteers, to help set-up, to bring food or help with the barbecue. Kong can be reached at (760) 872-4245.