On Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., PRO-ACT (Pennsylvania Recovery Organization – Achieving Community Together) sponsored the event for National Overdose Awareness Day held at the Charles A. Melton Center for Education and Arts at 501 E. Miner St., West Chester.
PRO-ACT was founded in 1988, under the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania and have recovery locations in Bucks, Philadelphia, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties with one new location opening up in Norristown on Oct. 1, 2019.
PRO-ACT is an advocacy and recovery support initiative for addiction and it hires within, which means the staff is made up of many former addicts—mainly volunteers. The recovery approach is peer-to-peer focused. “I’ve been sober for nine years,” says Per Hagen, PRO-ACT’s Volunteer Coordinator for the Chester and Montgomery Counties. “I don’t say that for applause, I say that because I want to show that recovery is possible.” It’s all about ending the stigma of addiction.
Although opioid addiction appeared to be the focus of the event, the information that PRO-ACT supplied to the public was not limited; pamphlets with emergency response information for alcohol and stimulant overdose situations were available to the public too.
Not only is PRO-ACT a resource for addiction recovery, but it is also a resource for life after addiction. “We have computer labs for working on resumes that recovering individuals can use when applying for jobs,” says Claudia Herman, Engagement Specialist for PRO-ACT. “We are the connection to doctors and dentists for recovered individuals too.”
Because of the overlap of memberships, multiple organizations were represented at the event to educate the community on the prevalence of addiction.
Kacie’s Cause, founded in memory of Kacie Erin Rumford, made their presence known by supplying Narcan, an emergency overdose prevention drug, to those who attended the event for free. It is often required that individuals must have a prescription to access Narcan, so the accessibility to the medication was a pleasant surprise, considering its ability to save lives.
Kacie’s Cause offers $1000 college scholarships and full-coverage recovery scholarships. Events like the Mother’s Day Walk, which offers support to the families on Mother’s Day that have lost a child to addiction and projects like Kacie’s Kloset, which collaborates with local school districts to supply formal dresses and other clothing to young women in need, all began with Kacie’s Cause.
Caron is an organization of recovery facilities in Pennsylvania and Florida created with the families of an individual with addiction at the core. Family or any support system is essential in recovery for Caron. Patty Katin spoke about the lessons she learned while attending meetings at Caron. “Your child has to take responsibility for themselves,” says Katin. “You can do everything you can to keep them safe and help them, but their addiction is their battle.”
In honor of those who have lost their lives to an overdose, friends and family could submit a photograph of their loved one to be displayed in a slideshow and create a luminary decoration with the name of their loved one on it.
These resources, paired with a complimentary dinner, created a great sense of community for the West Chester community. If you are looking for a way to support these organizations, register for the PRO-ACT Recovery Walk at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia on Sept. 21, 2019 at www.RecoveryWalks.org.
If you are struggling with addiction, there are not only resources on campus that can help but even more in the community. Feel free to access their information below.
Kacie’s Cause: https://www.kaciescause.org/
Malvern Institute: https://www.malverninstitute.com/
Kirsten Magas is a fourth-year student majoring in English with minors in journalism and creative writing. KM867219@wcupa.edu