A couple of dozen hardy souls didn't let a little adverse weather spoil a picnic in Victory Park Thursday, Sept. 19.
They were there to observe and celebrate September being designated "National Recovery Month" at a community picnic sponsored by the Fairfield County ADAMH Board.
The free event, billed as "Join the Voices of Recovery," featured food, games and inspirational speakers who have been meeting the challenges of recovery from addiction.
"It was a little rainy, a little overcast, but since we were all under the O'Brien Picnic Shelter, the weather actually bonded us together," said Jamie Cook, public relations assistant with the Fairfield County ADAMH Board.
She said the Fairfield County ADAMH Board sponsored two such picnics. Besides the one in Pickerington, another picnic was held in the bandstand in downtown Lancaster the previous day.
"We wanted to celebrate people making a commitment to recovery and our community's commitment to helping people achieve recovery," Cook said.
Participants in the Pickerington event included ADAMH Board Executive Director Rhonda Myers, Pickerington Police Commander Matt Delp, Darlean Cummings of Parents Addressing Teen Challenges and Robin Hicks from Tyler's Light.
"We had speakers come and talk about different aspects of recovery," Cook said.
"One gentleman that has been going through the recovery process said he was seven years sober.
"He talked about his struggles but also about how he came to rely on facilities in Fairfield County, like the ADAMH Board and the Recovery Center, to achieve (sobriety)," Cook said.
Both picnics were the first ones in Fairfield County held to celebrate National Recovery Month. Cook said the organization's goal is to make it a larger event next year.
"The first year you do anything it tends to be not as good as a turnout," Cook said.
"Hopefully, next year we'll get a bigger crowd," she said.
Cook said that shouldn't be a problem given that people in Fairfield County have not shied away from discussing the issue of drug addiction.
"What I think is great about Fairfield County is that we are on it," Cook said.
"We are not ashamed to communicate about it. We're willing to talk about it and address it out in the open."
The Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Board (ADAMH) is a facilitator of local assessment, planning, funding and monitoring of mental health, addiction and recovery services in Fairfield County.
Cook said ADAMH ensures funding it receives stays within Fairfield County so the organization can target the specific needs of its residents.
"We have more control over our funding," Cook said. "We are keeping it in the community."
Preventing the stigma associated with mental health issues and addiction is a primary function of the ADAMH Board, Cook said.
"These kinds of issues-mental health, drug addiction and alcohol abuse-reach every community," she said.
"We really have to be creative in how we spread the word because everybody is affected. It doesn't pick favorites."
For more information about the Fairfield County ADAMH Board, call 740-654-0829 or go to www.FAIRFIELDADAMH. org.