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Columbia Community Mental Health luncheon honors community members recovering from addictions

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Columbia County Circuit Judge Cathleen Callahan and CCMH Executive Director Julia Jackson attend the luncheon. Clients, community members, partners and staff were invited.Columbia Community Mental Health hosted a luncheon on Wednesday, Aug. 21, to celebrate those in recovery from alcoholism and drug addictions.

CCMH clients, staff and other community members gathered to share their stories and what knowledge or beliefs have helped them most throughout their recovery process.

One attendee who has been in recovery for more than 30 years said she appreciated that the organization planned the event. PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Sue B. and Shelly Kimball sit down for a meal at the recovery luncheon. Both have been in recovery for more than 15 years

"We all get told everything we're doing wrong, and to be celebrated when we're doing right is amazing," she said.

The path of recovery takes people "five steps forward, two steps back — or 10 steps forward, 100 steps back," said CCMH Executive Director Julia Jackson. Through the struggles, Jackson said, those in recovery "experience a type of joy that maybe we didn't even have before the life of addiction, or before recovery, because we appreciate things so much more and we value relationships so much more."PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Columbia Community Mental Health clients and staff, some of whom have struggled with addiction themselves, gather on Wednesday to celebrate the hard work of recovery.

Despite the challenges that have come up throughout life and recovery, attendees agreed. "My life is so much better than I ever could have imagined it," said one attendee.

"I am so grateful, so grateful for my community and so grateful for today, because I do this thing one day at a time, because that's all I have," said Sue B., who said she is approaching 16 years of sobriety.

For many participants, building their feeling of self-worth has been an integral part of recovery. PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Ted Grove, presiding judge in the Columbia County Circuit Court, shares his own recovery from alcoholism at the luncheon.

"I have learned so many things," said a care coordinator in the organization's behavioral health department who has been in recovery for 18 years. "One thing is that I'm not a doormat."

"I have learned over the last few years that I can stand up for myself and I can do just about anything I set my mind to," another attendee said, who also noted the effect of addiction on families. "I think the thing that sticks out for me the most is the fact that it is a family disease, and it can devastate a whole entire family."PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Wednesday's luncheon was held to celebrate those who had achieved a year or more of recovery, though many of the attendees had completed more than a decade of recovery.


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