Published in Newburyport Wicked Local

By Carol Feingold, Nov 13, 2018

“This month as we celebrate Thanksgiving and the Pelican Intervention Fund’s Third Anniversary, we have much for which we are grateful,” said Elizabeth McCarthy, who founded the Pelican Intervention Fund (PIF) in 2015, along with Kim and Steven Keene.

“In the past three years, with continued support and generosity of many individuals, businesses and organizations we have raised over $200,000; funded 35 local men and women for recovery; achieved recognition as the 2018 Non-Profit Organization of the Year by the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce; received the Asset Builders Award, and accepted the Unsung Heroines of Massachusetts Award from the Massachusetts House of Representatives.”

Dedicated to supporting local men and women on their journey from addiction to recovery, PIF is a non-profit, grassroots, volunteer group serving the communities of Newburyport, Newbury, Byfield, West Newbury, Amesbury, Salisbury, Groveland, Merrimac and Rowley.

PIF’s goal is to provide funding for 12-Step based long-term residential treatment for economically challenged adult men and women struggling with heroin and other addictive substances and living within the Greater Newburyport area.

The 12-Step Program is a non-medical model based on the program used by Alcoholics Anonymous. It costs an average of $15,000 for the first three months and is not covered by most health insurance.

Through the efforts of State Rep. James Kelcourse, PIF recently secured a $15,000 earmark in the FY19 Massachusetts state budget to combat the disease of addiction.

“These highlights affirm the need for the work we do as well as the generosity and care of the communities we serve,” McCarthy said. “The best way to thank you is to hear how your generosity and care for those struggling with the disease of addiction can impact a life. The words of one grateful recipient (Mitch Cohen) funded in 2016, articulates this well.”

Born and raised in Newburyport, Mitch Cohen turned his life around with the help of a PIF grant.

“My journey began in April 2016,” Cohen said. “I was lost, discouraged and felt completely broken. Through a mutual friend Pelican offered me the opportunity to go into long-term treatment at a time when I was in the position to surrender and accept the help. What Pelican did was get me into a safe environment with other men on the same journey and I was able to deal with my underlying issues.”

For the next three months Cohen was at the Brook Retreat in Plympton.

“PIF pays for the first three months of treatment,” McCarthy said. “The expectation is the residents do not have to work for the first three months because their job is recovery. After three months they still live in the recovery community, but begin to work outside. As they begin to work they start to pay for their own stay.

“They learn accountability. Slowly they have to begin learning to be honest, open, accountable, caring, and grateful. An attitude of gratitude is a big one. They heal at the roots. It’s more than being chemically sober. They are learning emotional sobriety.”

“Those three months changed my life forever,” Cohen said. “Putting down drugs and alcohol was something I had attempted several times before with no long-term success. The discovery of why I felt the need to use drugs and alcohol was a turning point for me. Through writing and working the 12 steps of recovery I was able to deal with and let go of those core issues.”

“Recovery is possible but it takes money,” McCarthy said, “it takes caring, and it takes time. We give them the time, the place, and the funding. They have to do the work, but they are not alone. They have the community.”

As his way of giving back to his community, Cohen established a fundraiser, “Pounds for Pelican.” A competitive power lifter and record holder for Men’s Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS) 242-pound Amateur Division, Cohen will compete at the 2018 RPS Powerlifting Championships on Dec. 1 and 2, at KDR Fitness, 75 Bank St., Lebanon NH.

“I was trying for find a way to give back,” he said. “Powerlifting is something I got into when I was a resident in Link House in 2013. That’s what we would do in our free time and slowly I got stronger and stronger. Back then it was a way to alleviate the stresses of being sober and living with 18 other men.

“I did not stay sober. My journey into long-term sobriety began with Pelican. Some of the guys I was with at Link House are dead. I feel really blessed to have had the opportunity that I did.”

A carpenter and builder by trade, Cohen also works part-time as a recovery specialist at a male residential program.

“I’ve never seen a higher success rate than the programs that Pelican funds,” Cohen said. “I had those three months to just work on myself and reconnect with family. Now I’m engaged to be married this April, my family is 100 percent back in my life, and I get to compete again. I was somebody who felt hopeless and that’s certainly not the case any more.”

“His is a message of hope,” McCarthy said. “You can reclaim your life. Now Mitch will do the heavy lifting and asks you to donate to help change lives forever.”

To support Pounds for Pelican, send a check payable to “The Pelican Intervention Fund at ECCF” with “Mitch’s Event” on the memo line to Essex County Community Foundation, 175 Andover St., Danvers, MA  01923. Credit Card donations can be made online at and add “Mitch’s Event.”


WHAT: PIF Pounds For Pelican Fundraiser

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2

WHERE: 2018 RPS Powerlifting Championships, KDR Fitness 75 Bank St., Lebanon .N.H