The 450 people at the DoubleTree Hotel early morning on Aug. 26 were invited to stand if their household had been impacted by substance abuse.

The large ballroom had few people remain seated.

It was not surprising, said Springs Recovery Connection CEO Trudy Hodges, because “two out of every three households are affected by substance abuse in some way.” Over the past difficult year, “there was a 36% increase in deaths due to overdose in this country,” she told the supporters.

Calls for help to the local addiction peer-coaching nonprofit jumped to 8,665 in 2020, and there were 715 referrals from the Memorial Hospital Central emergency room.

Hearing the numbers of people impacted, which leaped during pandemic shutdowns, business closures, job losses and quarantines, those attending the breakfast donated a record of more than $152,000 for the recovery work to grow and continue. There were moving video and in-person stories from those who had successfully battled drug or alcohol addiction, most of whom are now guiding others. There was a mother who thought she had lost her teenage son to addiction, but was there for him all the way as he recovered.

Hodges said, “Today we are the only fully accredited recovery community organization in Colorado and one of only 25 accredited in the United States. We are now part of health care solutions.”

She explained, “A peer coach is a well-trained person with their own lived experience with substance use disorder. And because of their own recovery and wellness, they want to give back. Peer coaches can relate to those entering recovery in a more understanding and impactful way than many others can.”

Hodges lauded “the courage of those stepping into recovery” and said SRC provides that support to nearly 2,000 individuals annually.

Board chair Mark Kane had welcomed guests: “This event affords us with the opportunity to learn how Springs Recovery Connection impacts the lives and futures of those they serve and ensures they have a peer to ‘walk with them’ through the challenges of recovery.”

The “Walk With Me” event honored Cathy Plush, described as “a woman with a huge vision” who founded the then-tiny nonprofit eight years ago.

“I am a woman in long-term recovery from the chronic disease of alcoholism,” Plush told guests.

Alcohol had “brought me to my knees” over 30 years ago. “I had always been very quiet about my sobriety and didn’t talk much about my recovery story until I started this organization in 2013. I began to understand that when we speak up about our recovery, the stigma and shame cannot survive. My recovery is sacred to me, and I consider it my greatest gift.” She is stepping down now, “leaving this organization to the next generation of peer leaders.”

The program has grown into referrals from a number of agencies, law enforcement, the courts and a partnership with Pikes Peak Workforce Center for paid training for the peer volunteers, during which there is hands-on practical experience.

It is all step by step, day by day, they say. There were wildflower footprint seed cards for everyone to take home to plant. Its quote card: “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step in your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take the step.” — Naeem Callaway, blogger and a mentoring nonprofit founder.

And the morning ended with the recovering addict’s serenity prayer.

For more information, visit srchope.org.

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