As September gave up her final day of 2016, Change 4 Kenai supporters took advantage of the perfect autumn afternoon to increase community awareness of addiction and recovery with a march down Binkley Street to Soldotna Creek Park. Shari Conner of Change 4 Kenai explained, “We are doing a recovery walk to take a stand against addiction. Through our website on line people could sign up and have teams. We had a couple of teams that were from Heritage Place and they did the Rolling for Recovery part so we were ‘Walking and Rolling for Recovery.” About 145 total participants made their way from Serenity House headquarters on Binkley St. down to Soldotna Creek Park. According to Conner the purpose was to raise funds for Change 4 Kenai, “About two years ago we did an assessment of our community and found that addiction was a big problem. Specifically IV heroin use, so we are working to create programs that will help fight that,” she told the Dispatch.
The “Roll for Recovery” Team from Heritage Place (HP) consisted of 15 residents in wheelchairs, 15 pushers, a walker and motorized scooter according to Aud Walaszek, HP Activities Coordinator, “All were in their Dignity Awareness Mission resident made t-shirts and joined the march for the Serenity House ‘Stand Against Addiction’ walk. For the fundraiser portion the HP Residents Council donated $200 and other team members $150 totaling $350 contributed. The residents selected this cause as one of our community outreach programs with our Dignity Awareness mission in mind, to recognize the dignity in those battling addiction,” she said.
Many of the participants included their kids and pets in the walk as did Dr. Kristie Sellers, director of behavioral health at Central Peninsula Hospital, “We are actually the lead grantee agency for Changer 4 Kenai and we received the grant funds that allowed the coalition to exist and have been the inspiration for the project. We brought our community together and reached out to those interested in the topic to discuss how we could really make change for our community with regard to addiction abuse. The main thing we wanted to accomplish today was to let the community know that more people live in recovery from addiction than live in active addiction. Some estimates are that as many as seven and eight times as many people live in recovery from addition than live in active addiction. We tend to see the impact as active addiction in our community, broken laws, broken lives but we rarely get to see rebuilt lives and that is what we wanted to celebrate today.” Change 4 Kenai has both a website and Facebook page for anyone wanting more information. Future events are being scheduled, “Our goal is to make it easier for someone in our community to get out of the world of addiction than it is to get into it,” said Dr. Sellers.