Published On: Wed, Sep 14th, 2016

Rally for Recovery encourages hope

Tribal Council Vice Chairman Brandon Jones tells his own personal story of past addictions at the Rally for Recovery held at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Sept. 13. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

Tribal Council Vice Chairman Brandon Jones tells his own personal story of past addictions at the Rally for Recovery held at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Sept. 13. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

Hope was the word of the day at an event geared towards turning around the lives of those currently in the throes of addiction.  The Rally for Recovery event, hosted by Analenisgi with help from various other agencies and programs dedicated to recovery events in the Cherokee community, was held at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

“All of us, as a community, we’re going to have to stand together,” Principal Chief Patrick Lambert told the crowd during the opening of the event.  “In the Cherokee way, we’ll find the right way to go.”

He said current efforts to change legislation regarding drugs in the community are being done not to punish those in recovery but to strengthen the community as a whole.  “From the bottom of my heart, I pledge all of my support from this office.”

Casey Cooper, Cherokee Indian Hospital CEO, spoke about the current continuum of care for those in recovery as well as the programs that will be coming online soon such as the Snowbird Residential Treatment Center, for which ground was broken in July, and the upcoming Crisis Stabilization Unit slated for the old hospital.

“It takes a village, but we have a village,” said Cooper who related that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has friends and partners all over that will aid in the process.  “We’re here for you.  We love you.  We want you to be a healthy, contributing member of the community.”

Principal Chief Patrick Lambert speaks during Tuesday’s event.

Principal Chief Patrick Lambert speaks during Tuesday’s event.

Shawn Crowe, a former addict who is now in recovery, served as emcee for the event.  “More funds need to be funneled to events just like this to get the folks in here who really need to hear this message that’s being preached here today.  The message that we’re preaching here today is recovery.”

He said it’s important to get those suffering from addiction to want to change.  “You’ve got to take that first step.  It’s a long journey.  Nobody said it was easy.  I can’t even tell you how many times I relapsed.  I once stayed clean for nine month, nine months, and the very first day I got out of the half-way house, I got loaded.  It’s that simple to get loaded.  So, I know how hard it is to remain clean.”

Crowe added, “The community has to wake up and hear this message.”

Tribal Council Vice Chairman Brandon Jones spoke candidly about his past addictions.  “It can happen to anybody, any day, at any given time.”

He related how he drank alcohol for the first time in his life on the day of his graduation.  Within two years, he was doing cocaine.  “It quickly escalated.”

Vice Chairman Jones added, “As you put more time between you and your addiction, you’re always going to have those tough moments.  What you do is build a defense mechanism as you start to see these signs coming on so when they do come on, you know how to handle them.  You learn how to cope, and that’s what I’m doing now.”

The Medicine Ridge Singers, a southern-plains style singing group, sing a song on Tuesday.

The Medicine Ridge Singers, a southern plains style singing group, sing a song on Tuesday.

He told the crowd about relatives and friends he’s lost to addiction.  “You never know what our future holds for us around the next corner, but there is hope.”

Vice Chairman Jones said that people do not plan to be addicts.  “They simply run from difficult times in life.  The drugs we are facing today are truly evil.  They possess a lot of power – more power than we can overcome alone.  So, we need that support system.  We need that village, no matter what.”

Kristi Case, MPA, Ananlenisgi Recovery Services manager, said a total of 244 registered at the event, but they gave out a total of 350 t-shirts (50 for volunteers, 300 for participants).  “We believe we had many more than signed in, as there were lots of families with children, and typically only the adults signed the registration logs.”

She said herself and the organizers were pleased with the turnout as well as the message provided by the speakers and vendors.  “If we can provide hope, encourage others to get in recovery, and support those on their journey, then it was a successful event.  The child and family area was a particular success as there were many fun games for the kids to play.  We hope to make this an annual Rally in Cherokee.”

During the event, Case said the Cherokee Indian Hospital Pharmacy gave out 24 naloxone kits, used to counteract the effects of narcotic overdose, and Full Circle Recovery gave out five.

For more information on how you can enter recovery and the services available, contact Analenisgi 497-9163 ext. 7550.

To view or purchase photos from this event, visit: https://onefeather.smugmug.com/COMMUNITY-and-NEWS-EVENTS/2016-Community-and-News-Events/Rally-for-Recovery-September/