My first visit to Caron was on Saturday, March 13, 2010 – the frightening, rainy, pivotal day that my family, two friends, and one interventionist drove my son to the first treatment facility I had ever seen.
Two days after my son entered treatment at Caron, his dad and I began attending the Monday night parent support group in Plymouth Meeting, PA. We were amazed by the support and insight that other parents in the room were sharing, and we knew we found a safe and loving place to understand the changes we needed to make as parents.
Through years of attending that and other meetings faithfully, I found understanding, support, and some of the most treasured friendships I could ever hope for! The wisdom and love that is shared so freely has been a constant light in my life since that first meeting. If anyone would like proof that people with substance use disorders come from good families, just visit one of the dozens of meetings sprouting up throughout our region, and you’ll find some of the finest people on Earth.
One year after my son went to treatment and I found my new “recovery family” in those rooms, a door opened for me that was quite unexpected. Initiated by leaders in my school district, and together with other community members, we began a program called Be a Part of the Conversation. Our goal was to help raise awareness about the impact of substance use on individuals and their families. After learning so much from Caron’s Family Education Program, and experiencing the warm embrace of the parent groups, I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure that other families would not have to walk that same dark path alone, as we did only a year earlier.
We knew this could be a unique opportunity to help shed light on those dark and confusing challenges. In order to develop programs that have impact and integrity, I wanted to become as knowledgeable as possible about such important subject matter. While having a background in graphic design and marketing has helped me to promote our programs, it certainly didn’t prepare me for the complexities of substance use disorders. So in 2013 I became a Certified Recovery Specialist, which allows me to provide peer support to other family members. But it is the hundreds of hours of training that have helped me to gain insight, and have fueled my passion for this field.
It has been my honor to serve as Executive Director of Be a Part of the Conversation since our incorporation in 2013. I am very fortunate to work with a talented and dedicated Board of Directors, and in 2014, Be a Part of the Conversation became a nonprofit organization.
To date, we have presented nearly 50 community events in four counties, often drawing more than 100 participants. Our many topics range from communication skills for parents of young children, to combating the opioid crisis. We are also collaborating with universities and hospitals to address the changing practices of prescribers in an effort to stem the tide of opioid misuse. And what continues to keep the wind in my sails is that every Thursday night at 7pm, I get to sit in a room in Hatboro, PA with the most amazing, compassionate, and loving parents I could ever hope to know.
More than seven years after my son’s admission to Caron, I am deeply grateful to report that he has remained in recovery. Our family has weathered many changes. We have had sorrows and celebrations. We have lost treasured friends to this disease, and we have had the honor of witnessing milestones in recovery. One thing that I am absolutely certain of is that any resiliency or growth that we have achieved has a well-worn path leading directly to those early days with Caron and the family support groups.