Thursday, February 14, 2008

Friends 2008 Retreat --Communication, education, and unity

Friends of Addiction Recovery- New Jersey (Friends) convened a two-day meeting to strengthen its five existing county chapters and explore inroads into counties that have yet to establish chapters. The retreat, which took place Feb. 8-9 in Perth Amboy, was facilitated by Dona Dmitrovic of who previously worked with the Johnson Institute in Washington, D.C., whose advocacy recruitment and engagement model has been integral to Friends since 2005.

The working group of 14 people gathered on the cold Friday night for dinner and followed that up with an inspiring opening session. Toward the end of the night, eyes were growing weary but the dialogue was alluring. It was concluded that Friends has met many objectives, but there’s still more to be accomplished through joint organizing efforts. Members of the Friends county chapters were joined by the Friends Steering Committee in an attempt to build stronger recovering communities and to work on honing advocacy skills throughout the state. Eric Arauz of North Brunswick, one of five recovery speakers at the 2007 Rally for Recovery, said the chapters held great promise for providing advocacy that was “statewide and zealous.” Among the topics the group explored was Advocacy with Anonymity, a critical hurdle in building an addictions issues constituency. The debate over anonymity has been a thorn in the side of the addictions issues advocacy effort for years as members of 12-Step groups hold the traditions sacrosanct.

Essex County Chapter Member Kevin Bullock said what he wanted from the meeting was a clear and strategic approach for the Friends chapters. He said that “uniformity of language” by the RCO’s was important to their advocacy work. Consistent use of language has been the focus of other advocacy trainings conducted by Faces and Voices of Recovery and Join Together.

The working group also agreed that Friends has capable and power-filled volunteers and that these dynamic people should be dubbed ‘recovery ambassadors’ because the word ‘volunteers’ just doesn’t do justice to their efforts. “Increased visibility,” was the goal Friends Community Organizer Jeanette Grimes said was needed for the recovery community. Grimes said there needed to be periodic assessments of chapters to determine their progress in making themselves known to the community at large.

Other Recovery advocates who took part in the retreat had this to say:

“The passionate enthusiasm of everyone who attended helps to strengthen my recovery advocacy work.”
Judy Fuqua, Friends Steering Committee Member

“This organization can really make a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives. Lifting the stigma of addiction will help so many people in so many ways. I am clearer about what our mission is and hope that we can find a way to spread the message and educate a lot of people.”
Cindi Caponegro, Union County Chapter

“We’re all on the same track—end stigma, strengthen treatment and recovery and unity of both for client and family.”
Pat Craven, Burlington County Chapter

“I have a better scope on how I can get training, as well as more information that I can pass on to others.”
Katherine Woodley, Union County Chapter

“The understanding and direction from other county chapters will help to advocate in our chapter as well.”
Cynthia Bullock, Essex County Chapter

“Knowing that a chapter is going to be started in the southern part of the state helps my recovery by being able to be with people who are also in recovery.”
Patricia Dennis, Friends Steering Committee Co-Chair

“There’s hope for recovery communities when we harness the energy, organize and stay within guidelines.”
Lisa Gladwell, Friends Steering Committee Co-Chair

“The sharing is so important. Sometimes it seems like recovery is a big secret. Just being with people who are willing to work for this goal is so encouraging. Personal stories are so empowering because you know it is possible.”
Bob Craven, Burlington County Chapter

“Proms and Alcohol Don’t Mix” Contest--Students to Produce PSAs

Attorney General Anne Milgram and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Jerry Fischer today announced the kickoff of the second-annual program for high school seniors designed to increase their awareness about the dangers of underage drinking during the upcoming prom and graduation seasons.

Entitled “Proms and Alcohol Don’t Mix,” this innovative initiative asks high school seniors to create scripts for 30-second television public service announcements. The winning spot will be produced and distributed to local television stations. The winning school’s students will have a chance to appear in the spot or assist in its production or editing. A number of additional entries will also be chosen as runner-ups. Students who participate in developing the winning entry and the runner-up entries will be invited to a special party in their honor at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s residence, in Princeton.

“The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control is working to combat underage alcohol use on many different fronts,” Director Fischer said. “By using public education programs, community awareness efforts and law enforcement initiatives, we can create an environment that keeps young people free from the tragedies often associated with underage drinking.”

Scripts must be submitted to the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control no later then Friday, March 28. The winning entry will be selected in April, and production will begin immediately. Program criteria are available on the Division’s website, at http://www.nj.gov/oag/abc/index.html.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Recovery Voices Count

Faces and Voices of Recovery recently launched their Recovery Voices Count campaign to educate the public about the myriad of ways that they can get involved in nonpartisan civic engagement activities so that their voices can be heard in the local, state and national arenas. Recovery community organizations and recovery advocates across the country are conducting voter registration and Get-Out-the-Vote activities, sponsoring candidate forums and getting candidates for political office on record about critical policies that will make recovery a reality for even more Americans.

With that in mind, along with a number of excellent materials, Faces and Voices of Recovery is also hosting one hour phone-in Recovery Advocacy teleconferences. The topic of the first teleconference/webinar in the 2008 series supports the Recovery Voices Count campaign. In this webinar, experts in the field talk about how you can get involved in the Recovery Voices Count campaign. Pat Taylor, Executive Director of Faces and Voices of Recovery introduces the campaign, Tom Coderre, National Field Director of Faces and Voices of Recovery gives an overview of why you should get more civically engaged, Gwen Henderson, Women in New Recovery speaks about voter registration success at her organization, NCADD-NJ’s Lori McDaniel discussed building relationships and the process of educating the public, candidates and elected officials about drug and alcohol addiction issues and sound public policies, and Jeff Blodgett, Wellstone Action spoke about how to organize and mobilize a successful Get-out-the-Vote campaign.

Take a look at the informative materials
Download the Guide to Civic Engagement
Listen to the teleconference
Download the Recovery Voices Count PowerPoint presentation

Find out more about the Campaign
Go to NCADD-NJ's Election Guide