Pelican Fund event to feature addicts’ stories of recovery

Published in Newburyport Daily News

April 26, 2018

NEWBURYPORT — A group of local residents struggling with addiction will share stories of their path to recovery Sunday as part of an event hosted by the Pelican Intervention Fund.

Although it will be the Pelican Intervention Fund’s fourth annual testimonial event, this will also be the first Celebration of Hope Fundraiser — a title that Pelican Intervention Fund co-founder Kim Keene said accurately reflects the event’s goal of shining a hopeful light on the opioid crisis and showing that recovery is possible.

“These are local men and women who are struggling and it’s very powerful to hear their story,” Keene said. “You don’t hear about hope much in these terrible addictions, so we’re trying to spin the positive on it.”

The event will be from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Newburyport Senior Community Center.

The Pelican Intervention Fund was established through the Essex County Community Foundation in 2015 by Keene; her husband, Steve; and Elizabeth McCarthy with the intention of funding 12-step, extended-stay recovery programs for men and women in Greater Newburyport struggling with addiction.

Since then, Keene said the organization has raised more than $175,000 and helped support 29 young people along the path to recovery.

Keene said her organization’s testimonial events in the past two years have each drawn more than 100 people, many of whom came because of their own connections to the opioid epidemic.

“There’s been a huge response because we all know someone,” she said. “If it’s not a member of our immediate family, it’s a neighbor or a co-worker.”

Keene said the testimonials will provide insight on the struggles of the Pelican Fund’s beneficiaries, many of whom have battled addiction since a young age.

“It’s very important for parents and other people to hear that this does happen in our community and it doesn’t just start for people in their 20s,” Keene said. “Many people come to us who have been struggling for 10 years or greater.”

In addition to the testimonials, the event will also feature an “Angels of Addiction” portrait exhibit by New Hampshire artist Anne Marie Zanfagna, whose paintings depict the faces of people in the area who lost their lives to addiction.

And although the exhibit is indeed somber, Keene said it will bring Zanfagna’s hopeful message to the forefront.

“These are real people in our communities and close by who have lost their lives,” Keene said. “It’s very moving to see them.”

The event will be attended by members of the local support network Learn to Cope who will provide resources and information for parents and loved ones of struggling addicts.

“Addiction is a family disease and the parents are part of the journey as well,” Keene said. “They’re living it right along with them.”