Carbon County Communities that Care Coalition members Kami McManus, Keera Allred, Justina Wichmann, Kaylum Paletta, McKell Warburton, Ann Evans, Rebecca Mason, Dannette Moynier and Joe Christman ready their community hope structure for dedication at the Peace Gardens.
With eight local deaths attributed to substance abuse issues and overdose in the past year alone, community members and organizations all over Southeastern Utah have made drug abuse prevention, education and recovery the focus of their every resource. In Carbon County, that means that the local Communities that Care (CTCC) organization has partnered with the Healthy Families Coalition to meld this year's "Back to School" night with September's theme of worldwide substance abuse recovery.
"The more awareness and education we can bring to this community concerning prevention and education, the better equipped we will be to help today's youth through this the horror of substance abuse," said Four Corners Prevention Specialist and Adolescent Drug Treatment Coordinator Kaylum Paletta. "At the CTCC we felt that the annual 'Back to School' event would be a fantastic way to present recovery information to a large portion of the community concerning both adolescent and adult substance abuse issues."
This year, the 'Back to School,' event has become Recovery Night which will take place Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. at Carbon High, bringing the whole community's focus toward prevention and recovery. As September is also the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration's (SAMHSA) National Recovery Month, the whole month has been dedicated to recovery, the CTCC has planned multiple ceremonies and events through September.
"As we were planning the month out, Angie McCourt the director of the Castle Country Youth Center recommended hanging a clothesline in a local area for stories and mementos from those in recovery," explained Paletta. "Angie charged Kami McManus from the center with the project and it quickly went from the clothesline to a picket fence to the current four-sided structure the coalition has built and is hoping to dedicate next week."
McManus and Paletta along with coalition member and Price City Council member Jeanne McEvoy were central to the structure's building, working to ask Sutherlands about donating materials and having the Price City Council approve the structure's place in the city Peace Gardens. Sutherlands did provide the needed lumber and the city's council not only allowed the structure, but purchased approved the planting of a tree dedicated to recovery in Heritage Park. McManus along with McKell Warburton, Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County and local artisan Grady McEvoy ensured that the growing picket structure was completed.
Once the structure is dedicated, it will take up residence in the Price City Peace Gardens for a month, where it will serve as a place for those in recovery to meet and place information and small pieces of hope for those struggling against addiction.
"We have gathered stories, poems and artwork from local youth as well as adults struggling with addiction," explained McManus. "We also are inviting the community to visit the structure and bring their own writings and mementos for placement on the pickets. Lastly, we will include arrest and death statistics stemming from local and state substance abuse."
Paletta was also very hopeful that the white picket structure will act as a beacon of hope for the local community.
"This structure being in the Peace Gardens will remind the entire community that there is a great amount of hope for those who struggle," said Paletta. "This project has been a great way to push the whole recovery night event forward."
Not only will recovery night host nationally known substance abuse speaker and program administrator for SAMHSA Craig PoVey, but several breakout sessions have been put together for both youth and adult audiences.
"We would really like to encourage everyone to attend recovery night," said CTCC member Ann Evans. "We would like to see young people, adults, local workforce, administrators, everyone who considers themselves a member of this community."
Most of the night's events will be appropriate for everyone 12 and above according to Paletta. Additionally, the coalition will provide child care services for families with children ages 2-11.
"We are working toward building a comprehensive treatment system that is flexible for everyone who is seeking recovery in our local area," concluded Paletta. "We also need community support and understanding that addiction is a disease and not a moral deficiency. The whole mission of substance abuse recovery and prevention is made possible via community involvement. If we want to find a workable solution to the problem of addiction, our community has to work toward that solution together."