As we reflect on the past 16 months of operations at the FAVOR Greenville Center, several things stand out. First and foremost, FAVOR has touched many lives. To date, more than 2,000 individuals have participated in programming with FAVOR.
Whether it is for one-on-one recovery coaching, family support groups, All Recovery support groups, children’s groups, Adventures in Recovery or ARISE interventions, the demand has been startling. Conservative estimates say that two of three individuals are directly impacted. Chances are those of you reading this article have dealt with the issue of substance use disorders in your lives.
The second thing that comes to mind is that FAVOR Greenville is incredibly useful. We have developed an unbelievably unique and effective organization. When you come to FAVOR you get practical help delivered in a warm and caring environment. The spirit of recovery is everywhere and we speak assertively about hope, courage and lives transformed. We wear recovery like a badge of honor and people respond to this.
My third reflection is that eliminating the stigma and shame of substance use disorders must continue to be a significant part of FAVOR’s mission. We have seen people avoid seeking support because they are embarrassed and do not want to be “labeled.” We have seen families keep the secret from everyone significant in their lives for years and years. I have sat in professional settings and witnessed disparaging remarks, such as people suffering with addiction are “hopeless and worthless.” In truth, most individuals with a substance use disorder are employed and paying taxes and flying under the radar in the shadow of society’s great misconceptions about addiction and recovery.
This is why a primary focus of FAVOR is the open and assertive promotion of recovery. That is why I am willing to put into print the reality of my life: I am a husband, a father, an employee, a soccer coach (although not a very good one), a son, a brother, a member of a church, a college graduate, generally speaking a productive member of society … and I am a person in long-term recovery from substance use disorders.
FAVOR Greenville is essential because we are challenging the stigma of addiction and shining the light on recovery. We are unapologetic about this reality. We will not be silent.
Finally, I am awed by the leaders in the Greenville community who have been very brave in supporting FAVOR through the years. Greenville has a long history of innovation; and at FAVOR we are proud to bring this same “can do” attitude to addressing the issue of substance use disorders. We believe that years from now Greenville will be known as the place where the game changed in terms of this fight against addiction. Without the community’s incredible courage in financially supporting FAVOR, none of this would be possible. But we must continue our efforts if we are to see real and lasting change.
At the current time, we are raising funds that will allow FAVOR to both sustain and increase our reach. Tara Conner, our guest speaker for the Gifts of Recovery Luncheon on Nov. 12 at noon at Embassy Suites, is the perfect fit for our theme of “courage in recovery.” Her story starts with the glitz and glamor of pageant stages, tiaras and flashbulbs from every angle, all culminating with her being crowned Miss USA in 2006.
However, Ms. Conner was caught up in her substance use disorder at the time she won the pageant. To the credit of pageant sponsor Donald Trump, she was given a second chance and did not lose her crown. She completed rehab in 2006 and has been in long-term recovery ever since. Since that time she has demonstrated her own brand of courage by stepping forward and publicly talking about her addiction and recovery story. We would encourage you to attend this event and join in this day to celebrate the power of recovery. I promise you an uplifting experience.
And I hope that each one of you will take a moment to reflect on your own experience and how you may be connected to this issue. This is a fight that we are all in together. If I’ve learned anything from FAVOR’s first 16 months, it’s that anything is possible, when we have the courage to come together. Won’t you join us?
Rich Jones is Executive Director of FAVOR Greenville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.