Highlights from Celebrations of Recovery Month 2014 in Illinois

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of National Recovery Month, communities and organizations across Illinois have hosted various events to celebrate recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. Over the past two Saturdays, TASC was engaged in events in Chicago, Rockford, and University Park.

Pictured left to right, back row: Derrick Watson, Rev. Tommie Johnson Middle row: Mike Seeler, Alicia Fiestamel, Debra Hammer, Miki Hendricks, Angela Daniels Front row:  Peter Palanca; Benneth Lee

TASC staff at the September 20 Walk for Recovery at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois.  From left to right, back row: Derrick Watson, Rev. Tommie Johnson.  Middle row: Michael Seeler, Alicia Feistamel, Debra Hammer, Micki Hendricks, Angela Daniels.  Front row: Peter Palanca; Benneth Lee.

On September 20, the Governors State University (GSU) Addiction Studies Alumni Club hosted its third annual Walk for Recovery in University Park, drawing more than 250 people. Led by TASC Executive Vice President Peter Palanca as Master of Ceremonies, the event honored individuals in recovery as well as treatment providers dedicated to helping those seeking recovery. In the spirit of this year’s Recovery Month theme — Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out! — event speakers also encouraged citizens to continue to speak up on behalf of those in need of services.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 23 million people over the age of 12 needed treatment for a substance use problem in 2009. Of these, fewer than three million received it at a specialty facility, making the role of organizations like TASC vital for many.

“We know that investing in recovery makes sense,” said Palanca. “When people with alcohol and drug problems get the help and support that they need, we see positive results.”

Palanca, who has served as Master of Ceremonies at the previous GSU Recovery Walks, added that the importance of recovery should be recognized year-round.

“Let’s not stop celebrating recovery as September comes to a close,” said Palanca. “Recovering people and their families are engaging in recovery each and every day with our continued support, guidance, and service.”

People in recovery, family members, community leaders, service providers, and recovery advocates celebrated at the sixth annual Recovery Rally on the Rock, held September 20 in Rockford.

People in recovery, family members, community leaders, service providers, and recovery advocates celebrated at the sixth annual Recovery Rally on the Rock, held September 20 in Rockford.

Also on September 20, the sixth annual Recovery Rally on the Rock took place on the banks of the Rock River. With inspirational speakers, entertainment, prizes, and refreshments, the event celebrates recovery and raises awareness of local resources to prevent and treat substance use and mental health conditions.

The Reverend Tommie Johnson, recovery support services coordinator for TASC, led the annual Winner’s Circle “Outside the Walls” event, which took place Saturday, September 13 in Chicago’s Douglas Park. “Outside the Walls” is a celebration of hope and healing in the spirit of recovery, promoting reconnected families broken by incarceration. The event offered a spiritual atmosphere emphasizing the importance of faith-based consciousness in productive reentry, and featured local gospel artists, food, family activities, and ongoing encouragement for health and wellness.

The keynote inspirational speaker at the September 13 “Outside the Walls” event was Reverend E.F. Ledbetter III, who is the pastor of the historic Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in the South Side of Chicago.

The keynote inspirational speaker at the September 13 “Outside the Walls” event was Reverend E.F. Ledbetter III, who is the pastor of the historic Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in the South Side of Chicago.

“For those engaged in the struggle to get their lives back on track, with all the obstacles they must overcome, it is good to have a moment that they are celebrated and not just tolerated,” said Johnson. “Everyone, no matter who they are, can use some encouragement from time to time.”

National Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective, and that people can and do recover. TASC is a National Recovery Month planning partner.

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