It is with great excitement and much anticipation that hundreds of recovery advocates from around the state are preparing for the 2018 Stand Up for Recovery Day. At FOR-NY, the team is buzzing with preparations for the big day at the Empire State Plaza on March 6th. Over the last few months, FOR-NY’s Director of Policy, Allison Weingarten, has zig-zagged across the state offering trainings to many of the Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) in preparation for their efforts to educate lawmakers about the value of investing in recovery. We have held numerous meetings with stakeholders to craft an agenda that spans the needs of the recovery community from Buffalo to Babylon. And now, in the week leading up to the big event, we are placing the final touches on a day of action that we expect will be more exciting than last year.
Registration opens at 8am in the lobby of the Empire State Plaza with a lovely continental breakfast. The program begins at 9am, with remarks delivered by FOR-NY Board President Joseph Turner, NYS Senator George Amedore, Chair of the NYS Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee and Co-Chair of the NYS Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction. Pastor Donna Potter from In His Name Outreach and FOR-Erie is traveling from Buffalo and will be delivering the Invocation.
After a showing of the 2017 Stand Up for Recovery Day Video, which features highlights from last year’s event, recovery advocates from around the Empire State will share their stories of recovery and advocacy, including Tracie Gardner (Legal Action Center), Conor Mulvaney (Long Island Recovery Association) , Bill Williams (a nationally honored family advocate), Meghan Hetfield (FOR-Dutchess); Tele Rabii (Youth Voices Matter-Schenectady), Jordan Eubanks (SBH Peer Advocate); Felicia Dumas (Seaway Valley Peer Advocate); and Sean Smith (ROCovery Fitness / Greater Monroe Recovery Community Organization).
We will hear from invited guest speakers, including OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez, NYS Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction members Senator Fred Akshar, Senator Chris Jacobs, and Assembly Chair of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal. A presentation on Recovery Advocacy by Richard Buckman, LIRA and FOR-NY Founding President, will precede the presentation of the FOR-NY Laura Elliott-Engel Recovery Advocacy Award by Laura’s children, Amaris Elliott-Engel and Jeremy Elliott-Engel. An exciting presentation from the newest recovery team – Youth Voices Matter – New York, will be followed by a special performance.
Shortly after 11 am recovery advocates will assembly for a march over to the Capital that will be led by Ashley Livingston (FOR-Warren/Washington). At noon, a press conference on the Western Staircase will feature distinguished legislative and community leaders, including Greg Williams (Facing Addiction/The Anonymous People/Generation Found); Lauri Cole (NYS Council of Community Behavioral Health); John Coppola (ASAP); Lori Drescher (Greater Monroe Recovery Community Organization and Recovery Coach University); Avi Israel (Save the Michaels of the World; Traci Gardner (Legal Action Center); and Dakota Snedeker (a young person in recovery).
Following the press conference, recovery advocates will meet with their legislative representatives and share their personal stories of hope and healing, as well as talk about what is needed in their districts to support recovery. We know that your faces and voices will continue to change the hearts and minds of our elected officials. Our stories have power, and sharing those stories with our friends in the legislature has over the years translated into new public policies that are helping communities build an infrastructure of recovery across New York State.
In the words of FOR-NY’s Founding member, the late Laura Elliott-Engel, “When you see the light go on, and somebody says, ‘I’ve never advocate for myself or anyone’…and they claim their right to be on the face of the Earth, in this space and time…it is incredible.” We hope that you will join us and Stand Up for Recovery on March 6. If you haven’t already made plans to join the hundreds of Recovery Advocates from across New York, it’s not too late. Your voices matter.