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Walk For Addiction draws support from throughout the region

Young Mia of Wolfeboro was proud to make a donation to Teen Challenge, one of several recovery organizations who were on hand for last Saturday's Walk for Addiction in Tilton. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 16, 2018
TILTON — More than 50 people came out last Saturday morning for the fourth annual Walk for Addition, sponsored by the Tilton Police Department in conjunction with organizers Carolee Longley and Wendy Hill, showing support for families and individuals, sharing stories of success in the struggles with addiction and remembering those lost along the way.

Police Chief Robert Cormier said the idea for the walk began when police realized how widespread the problems with opioid drugs had become, not just in Tilton but communities all across the state.

"There were a lot of people hurting, losing kids and family members we all knew. We had never dealt with anything like that before but we knew we had to address it," said Cormier.

Police first set out to establish a relationship with organizations in the recovery community to see what resources they had available. Working with them to get people the help they need when fighting addiction, they then established the walk.

"For a lot of people, this is comfort for them. This is not just about helping the recovery groups raise money, it's a way to give families a chance to celebrate the life of a loved one and keep their memory alive," the chief said.

A Memorial Table was set up where people could add their family member or friend's name and even a photo to a large poster. Many gathered nearby to discuss their loss and how they are coping with it while lending support to one another at the same time.

Several nonprofit organizations also had booths with information on their services. Among them was Teen Challenge, a 15-month residential program for men 18 and older that started in Brooklyn, N.Y. 50 years ago and has seen great success in all of its locations. A faith-based program with a facility now in Manchester, Teen Challenge doesn't turn anyone away and in fact, has expanded services to include a women's residential program now in Rhode Island.

"It's hard for people to afford to go to programs like ours, so we sell merchandise and ask for donations to help get the next guy in," said one young man who is in recovery now himself.

A young girl stepped up to leave a donation as her mother explained that her husband had once gone through Teen Challenge and, thanks to them, he is doing well today.

"Groups" is another facility with a location in Laconia where people can "Recover Together" and there is never a waiting list to join them.

"We hold group therapy sessions where people soon feel accountable not only to themselves but to their peers, too," said Client Coordinator Staci Keith.

In addition to group therapy, they also have a monitored Suboxone treatment program that is designed to help people overcome their addiction to opioids.

Another organization at last week's walk was Homestead Inn from Boscawen. Homestead is a Sober Living Recovery Community based on Alcoholics Anonymous where men of all ages can reside as they battle their addiction. Homestead Inn also provides on-site AA meetings and has medical resources available to assist those seeking a sober lifestyle.

Other resources were the Grateful Café Sober Club and Charles Rosa of "Chucky's Fight."

Speaking before the walk got underway Rosa told everyone about the loss of not one but two of his sons to opioids and how he nearly lost a third. Living on the New Hampshire seacoast, their ashes were scattered in the ocean now and for ten years since their deaths he has jumped in the water every day, no matter where he is, even in the winter. Chucky's Fight is his way of helping others now as a motivational speaker on the topic of addiction.

"I go to a lot of schools, and just want to help kids learn to make good, healthy choices," he said.

Gavin from Teen Challenge and Cody were other speakers who shared their stories, saying life is now good as they encouraged anyone facing addiction to know people care and to reach out for the help they need.

With an escort from Tilton and Sanbornton police departments the crowd then gathered for a mile and a half walk from Winnisquam Regional High School to the Tilton Town Hall and back. After the walk they were all invited to a cookout, courtesy of Aroma Joe's and the Common Man Family of Restaurants.

"As long as you all keep coming every year, we'll keep doing this," Chief Cormier assured the crowd before they headed out.

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