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Recovery event fun for family

Sometimes recovery can be fun, too.

The Golden Triangle Recovery Community Organizations are presenting the 4th Annual Recovery Rally in the Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on September 24 at Barbara Jacket Park on 200 Gilliam Circle in Port Arthur.

It is an event geared toward all ages, with face painting and a bounce house for kids and dozens of vendor tables, giveaways, raffles, and food and drinks for all the family.

In addition, there will be a special showing by a local motorcycle group who will present helmets in honor of fallen or deceased riders.

To help those family members in recovery, there will be STD screenings, professionals speaking on mental health, people sharing their substance abuse recovery stories, chemical dependency counselors on hand, and even tables run by parole systems.

Emanuel Preston, organizer and event coordinator, explained the meaning behind it all:

“The Recovery Rally announces and exposes people in the community to what recovery is.”

Preston explained that it is designed to cover mental health and substance abuse recovery for people like ex-offenders and veterans.

“We do it because we want to make our community safer,” Preston said. “Recidivism isn’t a solution. Our [current] prison system isn’t a solution. It’s a temporary fix.”

In helping affected individuals cope with their issues, Preston felt that individualized attention was crucial for their recovery.

“We feel that if we can get them the resources they need, we can [make] a difference in their lives,” Preston said.

“We sit and talk with the individual and find out what their needs are. We find out what their strengths are; we interview them. Based on what we find, we formulate a wellness plan for them.”

Preston said that he and fellow workers help individuals get “stabilized” through the use of jobs, education and “a safe living environment.”

They also work with the homeless population.

And while it will be the 4th Annual Rally in the Park, it won’t be the fourth one in Gilliam Circle — the first two events were held in Port Arthur, but the third one was held at Magnolia Park in Beaumont.

Thus, the Rally will be making a return to where it started.

“We had people from Port Arthur who asked us to host it here,” Preston said.

The organizer was clear in the Rally’s benefits as well.

“It’s important because substance abuse is one of those diseases that touches everybody, from the White House to the outhouse,” Preston said.

When discussing the number of people living in long-term recovery, Preston cited “The Anonymous People,” a 2013 documentary about substance recovery.

“The movie says there are 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery… that’s the populations from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston combined.”

The organizer mentioned their struggle to get disorders like addiction recognized by larger governing bodies.

“We have been trying to get our federal government to identify substance abuse as a chronic illness,” Preston said, before detailing the lengths to which individuals need to go to in order to be considered recovered.

“Facts have shown that it takes five years for people’s chances of relapse to go below 15%.”

Thus, in helping treat those affected, Preston stressed a more comprehensive approach.

“Every three months we do full-blown interviews with them,” Preston said about recovering peoples.

The interviews are conducted both by trained professionals and by individuals who have also faced the same kinds of problems as the people they’re interviewing.

“They can see other people who’ve been in the same predicament as them,” Preston said. “And then they can see other people who’ve overcome this and made something successful out of their lives.”

Preston was also wary of the conventional wisdom that says it’s best to work with people who have already hit bottom.

“We don’t subscribe to that because if you wait for them to hit bottom, they could die.”

When discussing the number of individuals that events like the Recovery Rally and its volunteers help, Preston responded,

“I’d say on average we help 350 to 400 people a year — and that’s just at the rallies. We do one-on-one conferences with them.”

Preston emphasized how important it is to reach out to youth as well. He recalled an instance where an 8-year old boy at a Port Arthur school was offered marijuana.

“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” he said. “That’s why we need to educate them in the side effects of drugs, STDs… We need to put them in conditions where they can make informed decisions.”

Preston acknowledged that the response from the local community has been good.

“We do recovery rallies, recovery revivals at churches… and it’s been well-received because people know those problems exist.

“They realize we have to do something.”