Friends of Recovery Vermont (FOR-VT) is a grassroots advocacy and education advisory board. They help us spread the word about the value of long-term recovery from substance use disorder and the effects on individuals, families and communities. The FOR-VT Advisory Board members work together on three dedicated Delta Task Force Committees. They are currently focusing on the following priorities: Recovery Housing, Youth and Family Recovery, and the Continuing Opiate Crisis and Medication-Assisted Treatment.
FOR-VT Advisory Board
Nancy Bassett Bill Brim Larry Walters Sandi Yandow Michael Johnson David Riegel Raina Lowell Ron Stankevich, MSW, MSA, AAP
The Issues and Why We Are Committed
For too long, recovery voices have been absent at policy forums which greatly affect the recovering person. Many funding decisions, concerning issues of education, job training, employment, child protective services, the juvenile and criminal justice systems and treatment have not included the voices and opinions of recovering individuals and their families.
What Can We Do?
Our beliefs about how to solve the problems can differ greatly. What is important is that we voice our personal opinions.
One thing that we in FOR-VT all agree on is that recovery works. We know that treating addictions is an important part of the solution.
Together, We Are the Solution
Because we bring voices and visibility to recovery:
We Inform: We provide resources and education about recovery issues.
We Speak Up: We offer forums to share personal stories. These voices need to be heard.
We Celebrate: We put on public events to showcase the possibilities of recovery.
The Elephant in Vermont’s Living Room
While Director of VAMH*, Ken Libertoff utilized his experience as an advocate at the State House to get legislators to buy into the concept of Recovery Centers and to get the issue on the agenda. He was assisted by Barretown Representative Tom Koch who, along with Senator Jim Leddy, had co-chaired a 2001 Legislative Council summer study committee that resulted in a landmark document, “The Elephant in Vermont’s Living Room: The Impact of Substance Abuse on the State Budget.”
Both legislators’ interest in Recovery Centers had been sparked by testimony from Mark Helijas, Director of The Turning Point Club in White River Junction and a valued member of the FOR-VT Board, about the importance of such centers in the recovery process. Ken trained members of FOR-VT and the recovery community in advocacy and role playing and got them to come in and testify to the legislature about the needs of people in recovery and their continued success.
*The Vermont Association of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (VAMHAR) was formerly known as The Vermont Association for Mental Health (VAMH).