New Paltz Reflects on Recovery

The New Paltz community gathered to champion hope and recovery this past weekend. 

The Town of New Paltz hosted its first annual Recovery Fest dedicated to celebrating recovery from substance abuse and addiction on Saturday Sept. 9 at Hasbrouck Park. Musical performances, free food, a bounce house and booths set up by recovery oriented organizations were all featured. 

According to Community Education Coordinator Phoenix Kawamoto, the event helped those in recovery and the people close to them by exposing them to various resources designed to help with addiction.

“Families and friends might have someone in their life that they’re worried about,” she said. “Today is about connecting people and celebrating.”

Some resources present were the Mental Health Association in Ulster County, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the New Paltz Youth Program (NPYP).

In addition to providing resources, Kawamoto spoke about the purpose of the event: to imbue those in recovery with a sense of identity that extends beyond being addicted. 

“I really want people in recovery to walk away thinking about what their unique gifts are,” she said. “People in recovery are giving back to their families and their communities in lots of different ways. They often aren’t given an opportunity or a message from the community that ‘we’re happy for you, we’re excited about what you’re doing.’ So, today is about that.”

A 2012 survey by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) found that 10 percent of American adults, 23.5 million people, consider themselves to be in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. 

Attendees agreed that a sense of community and feeling connected to one another was a large reason they went.

“It’s a good, accessible thing for the general public,” performer and attendee John Holt said. “I’m in recovery myself, so it’s just a good thing to celebrate.” 

Kawamoto said that New Paltz’s reputation for being a “party place” and the presence of a strong recovery community made it a good venue for the event. 

While not every resource at the event dealt specifically with substance abuse recovery, each played their own role in supporting the cause. NPYP Youth Director Jim Tinger spoke about how the services they offer help children stay safe and make good decisions.

“Our program really tries to give kids things to do, keep them involved and build relationships with adults like us,” he said. “We have had kids who have had issues with drugs and alcohol, so we set them up with the services in the community and deal with the parents who sometimes have the issues by counseling the kids through those efforts.” 

The OASAS funded survey noted that adults with and without children are equally as likely to be in recovery.

Kawamoto expressed satisfaction with the attendance and weather which allowed Recovery Fest to shine light on stigmas left in the dark.