Another Annual FOA Rally under our belt and I can honestly say, “what a perfect day”! As a person in long-term recovery for over 11 years, praying is something I rely on to get me by. Every year I pray for a perfect day. “Perfect” is a matter of perspective. People think I mean a perfect day in my eyes, but really, it’s about whatever God wants to deliver. He knows, of course, my vision of a perfect day.
The weather could not have been better; sunny, not too hot and not too windy. We had a great head start on setting up, and a great plan for getting all 50 resources into their pre-designated spot in an orderly fashion. The speakers had all arrived and we were set to go, on time. Months of planning now coming to fruition for three hours of positive. Sometimes during the last few months while I was working on something rally, I would tear up thinking about what we were about to do. It really is a pretty big deal.
Scotty Mays, also a person in recovery, was a co-emcee this year for the first time. He was charismatic and right on. The music by Rising Life had a great beat and was perfect for anyone of all ages. Almost all 50 resources had showed up, and there were others waiting to take the spot of those that didn’t show.
“Perfect” means a day of flexibility and improvisation coupled with nerves of steel. For an event this large to go off without a hitch would be a miracle. We were down volunteers, had to do the balloon launch early because the balloons were escaping. For our signature event, we only took one photo for our “Big Pic” instead of the customary two. One photo is of our heroes in sobriety, and then we ask anyone touched by addiction to join in– truly the essence of the Big Picture. A breakdown in communication lead some families to cry because they were not in our 2017 Big Pic! Lessons to be learned for our big 5th Annual FOA Rally 4 Recovery slated for August 26, 2018.
On the inside to us, things were not perfect, however, for the resources and attendees it was anything but. Perfect was achieved because our goals were accomplished. A comment I received read like this, “From start to finish, this was one of the best coordinated events that I have ever seen marketed, coordinated, and executed. It was a pleasure and an honor to be part of such a successful outreach event.”
The goal of our rally was to unite the people and resources of the Miami Valley to:
- Eliminate the stigma associated with addiction and mental health disorders
- Educate about addiction and mental health disorders
- Celebrate and show that recovery is possible and that it works!
From the street pole banners to pre-rally TV and radio coverage, to our Big Pic and our 50 resources, the day was perfect because FOA met all these goals. These goals are important because in this time of crisis, as a nonprofit organization, we have a mission that we deliver on every day.
To educate, empower and embrace families, friends and individuals struggling with addiction by providing support and promoting recovery.
FOA rebuilds families and transforms lives through the 3 E’s; educate, empower and embrace. Through weekly meetings in five Ohio counties, navigation, one-on-one phone support and outreach opportunities, FOA is a sought after and respected resource in the Miami Valley. FOA is unique because we provide support for the entire family and advocate for individuals to find their face and voice, which is key to eliminating the stigma associated with addiction.
We were also able to help people while at our rally. Vibrant Life reported performing Reiki on a man and he broke into tears over the sudden peace that overcame him. Another man needed help for a friend who was raising four grandchildren who had been asked to leave her one-bedroom apartment due to overcrowding. This call came in to me two nights before the rally. I asked him to attend the rally and access the resources. His comment to me the day after the rally, “Just want to say thank you for inviting us to the rally this weekend. We met a lady from DayMont and she has done so much for my cousins. They are getting her a house tomorrow and all the kids are being taken care of. We have had doors slammed in our faces and this woman just opened them all up in 2 days.”
This is just a small sample of the greatness of reaching high and going after your dreams.
The FOA Rally 4 Recovery was born after I saw the movie The Anonymous People in early 2014. I said to myself, “YES! I am a person in long-term recovery and we need to start talking!” This is how FOA became much more than a support group. We have grown from six people and a pack of Twizzlers (October 2013) to an organization that has had over 9,000 people sit in our weekly meetings alone.
Our people are energized that recovery is possible and that we celebrate it! They belong, they are not alone and they are now educated.