Over 1,000 people from across New York State arrived in Albany earlier this month to participate in the most successful Stand Up for Recovery Day ever. Recovery advocates came out of the shadows, stood up and were counted on a day in which the halls of the state Capitol reverberated with the sounds of our voices, and the sea of our faces. “We are in Recovery, and we VOTE,” was among the many chants that rang out for our decision makers to hear. We demonstrated that we are a constituency of consequence – and a community that is paying close attention to what those we elected into office are doing to support recovery.
FOR-NY thanks everyone who joined us to educate decision makers about the critical need for additional funding to expand the community-based recovery support services that are so desperately needed in our neighborhoods. Thank you to the over thousand friends who traveled from Buffalo to Babylon to stand up for recovery. Thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators to encourage support for increased funding for prevention, treatment and recovery. Thank you to the FOR-NY Board of Directors for their commitment to our cause. Your voices have a tremendous impact. And, thank you to FOR-NY Director of Policy, Allison Weingarten, for her tireless efforts in organizing the day, and for the rest of the FOR-NY team – Theresa, Debbie, and Shana for helping to make March 6 a tremendous success.
In the last few months, FOR-NY has supported the efforts of advocates to meet with lawmakers in Albany and in their districts. We’ve traveled to speak with elected officials in communities throughout the state. We’ve attended Senate Heroin & Opioid Addiction Task Force hearings and presented testimony. We’ve provided guidance and support to local Recovery Community Organizations throughout the state, and much more. But more importantly, the conversations that you are having with your state and local officials, the work that you are doing to build recovery infrastructure in your communities – day in and day out – is making a difference. Every day that you step out of the shadows and stand up for recovery by sharing your stories and expertise are all remarkable examples of what life in recovery looks like.
And of course, we wish to thank Governor Cuomo, and our friends in the New York State Senate and Assembly, for their continued support and investment in prevention, treatment and recovery services. A special thank you to Senator George Amedore and the members of the NYS Senate Task Force – Senators Fred Akshar and Chris Jacobs – for your leadership around the recovery agenda in the Senate. And thank you to Assembly member Linda Rosenthal for your tireless advocacy on behalf of the members of our community.
Now, the real work continues. As you know, a $4 billion shortfall has been projected in the Executive Budget that could have dire consequences on the advances that have been made to establish community based recovery support services desperately needed and necessary in every county across New York. We are seeing a push on the national level to prioritize criminal penalties over proven programs for prevention, treatment and recovery for Substance Use Disorder. We want to ensure that here in New York State, the humane drug reforms that have enabled people to step out of the shadows and seek help for their illness will not be unraveled.
Many of you have been speaking to your legislators about your desire to see them step up and push for a permanent vehicle that would create a dedicated revenue stream to support recovery, prevention and treatment – not just for this year, but for years to come. We salute your advocacy efforts to ensure that New York state addresses the public health emergency with critically need funding for the expansion of prevention, treatment and recovery supports series and workforce development.
When referring to the heroin and opioid addiction crisis in his State of the State message, the Governor said, “The time for action is now, before we lose another, single life.” He was right. The time for action is now. Your advocacy efforts have never been more critical. Let us continue to link arms, stand up, and hold fast together for recovery. Together, we will continue to change the world.
Executive Director, FOR-NY