TOM MOMBERG, Staff Writer
BENNINGTON — The Turning Point Center of Bennington County organized a march of roughly 60 people down Main Street on Saturday to raise awareness about addiction and recovery services with the inaugural ‘Recovery Walk.'
With the sponsored help of the Vermont Recovery Network and Burlington Labs, Turning Point wants to make the recovery walk an annual event. On Saturday, volunteers and individuals involved with recovery, drew the attention of Main Street with bright colors, uniform shirts and homemade banners. Horns blared and people cheered them on from the street.
"People took notice," said Turning Point director Joan Walsh. "How can you not be aware of that many people walking down the sidewalk? In all honesty, for the first one: I couldn't be happier. It shows that people are ready to say ‘hey, we are in recovery and it works one day at a time.'"
The walk ended at the town offices on South Street, where walkers were met by live music and rallying speeches by Walsh, Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, and Mark Ames, coordinator for VRN.
Turning Point of Bennington County is but one of 11 state-initiated nonprofit recovery centers in Vermont, which provide peer support for those recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.
"Those of you that understand, because you have addictions, get it: That I was trapped. I couldn't stop. I would start using and I would keep going, even though as a result, I wasn't living," said Ames, who has been in long-term recovery from addiction. He said he has not consumed any drugs or alcohol for over 31 years.
"I didn't know (at the time) that recovery involved a lot more than just not using," Ames said. "That's the amazing thing about what's going on in the recovery network: People that are joining us are finding out that it's not just about not using, It's about having a sense of community and taking on a better life."
Even though Vermont might be limited in its number of suboxone clinics and rehabilitation centers, it was one of the first states to have implemented a recovery network, which takes on a bigger component of recovery. The Turning Point Center provides people with a sense of community and helps people find reasons to want to go into recovery. Treatment is not possible unless that person really wants to recover. VRN strives to make that opportunity available.
"When the recovery network came up in front of (the appropriations committee), they said ‘we don't know if we are going to save you money, but we are going to help people and make a difference.' Quite frankly, from what we see here today: It has made a difference in Bennington County," Sears said.
Find the Turning Point Center and Club, 465 Main St., on Facebook or Google Plus or by calling 802-442-9700. Turning Point staff and volunteers will help anybody suffering from addiction, or their families, locate recovery resources and get them involved in group therapy.
Learn more about the VRN online at https://vtrecoverynetwork.org