September is National Recovery Month and a free, family-oriented event hopes to destigmatize addiction, celebrate recovery and rally the community together to find a solution.

The Monroe County Health Council and its Prevention & Wellness Coalition, along with the Celebrate Recovery Community, will host the second annual Rally 4 Recovery on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 5-8 p.m. at Engleman Park in Sweetwater. Admission is free.

“Substance dependency knows no boundaries,” said Heather Rhymes, executive director for the Monroe County Health Council. “It’s the desire of our agency to ‘rally’ behind those who’ve been affected by addiction, to encourage sobriety, to promote local resources, and to reduce substance use in our communities.”

Rally 4 Recovery will feature door prizes, testimonies, demonstrations, booths, presentations, vendors, outreach and children’s activities. In addition to bounce houses, the new splash pad at Engleman Park will be open for children to utilize, as well as the playground area.

Free Hepatitis A shots will be administered by the Monroe County Health Department, as well as free Narcan training by Marrisa Valentine, regional overdose prevention specialist. Among those who will be on site to provide information and local resources are Chota Community Health Services, The House That Mercy Built, True Purpose Ministries, JourneyPure of Athens, FitStop, the Monroe County Boxing Club, Monroe STOPe and the Hope Center.

“Recovery is possible, even under the worst of circumstances, with adequate support and access to care,” said Rhymes. “Many Monroe County citizens are unaware of available treatment options and resources. We intend for this event to empower those who are struggling or are in recovery by increasing access to such local services.”

Rally 4 Recovery will also feature three speakers. Rhymes will kick off the event at 5 p.m. with an opening presentation on the history of opioids in East Tennessee. At 6 p.m., Heather Ruzic of Caleb’s Song will share her personal story of how loss caused by overdose affected her. At 7 p.m., Tammy Conner with Access Medical Care with tell her testimony, which is one filled with hope.

“This event is a celebration of hope,” said Johnathan Moore, the project director for the Monroe County Health Council and Celebrate Recovery Community. “Our county has a great need for more opportunities for people who are dealing with numerous types of addictions that are not offered in any other fashion or way.”

The night will end with a candlelight vigil at 7:45 p.m. to honor those who have been affected by substance dependency and those who lost their battles to addiction.

For more information about Rally 4 Recovery, to register as a vendor or to speak with someone about local resources for those in recovery or struggling with substance dependency, call 423-545-3015.

To learn more about the Monroe County Health Council, visit the website at www.monroehealth.org. You can also visit the Facebook pages for updated information and information about the organizations: Monroe County Prevention & Wellness Coalition, Monroe County Health Council or Celebrate Recovery Community.

About Celebrate Recovery Community

Celebrate Recovery is a program based on Christian principles as applied to the 12 steps and the eight Beatitudes. The only requirement is to come and listen. The meetings are for regular people looking for help with hurts, habits or hangups and offer a safe, confidential and positive place to participate with other people looking for healing.

“It’s an interesting concept because it’s a different environment than most traditional 12-step programs,” said Moore. “It’s an opportunity for people to meet others who have been through or are going through similar things as they are.”

“It’s not just drugs and alcohol,” added Tammie George, who has been involved with Celebrate Recovery Community since the Monroe County Health Council launched it in 2017. “It’s a broad spectrum of anything and everything you could think of. Celebrate Recovery covers everything.”

Currently, there are two Celebrate Recovery Community locations in Monroe County. Meetings are held each Monday at First Baptist Church in Sweetwater, located at 303 Wright St. On Tuesdays, meetings are held at Madisonville Church of God, located at 3895 New Highway 68.

“It becomes a family very quickly,” said George. “It’s very effective when you combine the Christ-centered program with an atmosphere like Celebrate Recovery Community. When you’re showing them the love of Christ, you can’t help but show them love too.”

“That’s the main thing,” added Moore. “Showing love.”

Celebrate Recovery Community meetings begin at 6 p.m. with a free meal. A worship service follows the meal at 6:30 p.m. The meetings rotate between discussion on one of the 12-steps or a night of testimony.

“We are always needing people who are willing to share their testimony,” said Moore. “If anyone is interested, they can write those out and submit them to my email.”

Around 7:30 p.m. after the worship service and large group meeting, attendees break off into small groups. Small groups are divided into men’s and women’s groups and are safe places to share and receive support for individual needs.

Volunteers are always needed to help with Celebrate Recovery Community meetings, George noted.

“Anything they want to do,” she said. “Childcare, food preparation and serving, clean up, or facilitators for small groups, though there would be some criteria for that,” said George. “We can work around their schedules. You wouldn’t have to volunteer every week. If anyone is looking for community service hours or any students need service hours, we will welcome them.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Moore.

For more information about Celebrate Recovery Community, call 423-545-3015, email Jmoore.mchc@gmail.com, or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/celebraterecoverycommunity/.

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