MANCHESTER – You didn’t need to wear a turkey suit to be part of the 2nd Annual Keswick Thanks-For-Giving Turkey Trot 5 Kilometer Run, but it sure wouldn’t hurt.
The event that featured at least 50 participants took place on a chilly autumn morning at the America’s Keswick Activities Center Addiction Recovery facility located in the Whiting section of Manchester.
Robert Kenney serves as the director of Partner Care at Keswick in Whiting, which offers an extensive Christian based addiction recovery program, and while he wasn’t wearing a turkey costume, he and other volunteers were sporting the event T-shirt that featured a turkey.
“This is our second annual turkey trot and the purpose for it is to raise funds for our addiction recovery ministries which is Colony of Mercy which has been here for 125 years. We were here in Manchester since the beginning. No one else was here but a bank and a mill which is what this property was – the Giberson Saw Mill. The founder lived in England and ended up going to the Philadelphia area,” said Dr. Bill Welte, the president and chief executive officer of America’s Keswick.
He added, “we are the oldest residential addiction recovery program in the country. Our goal with the trot today is to raise $31,000 for addiction recovery. Our program is unique in that our men pay $500 to be here for 120 days.”
“We receive no state or federal funding. What help we do get from the government is food from the food bank in Ocean County. The rest is all raised through private donations,” Welte added, noting that 21,000 men have gone through the program. Additionally, they opened a 6-12 – month residential program for women seven years ago called Barbara’s Place.
The facility sprawls through 650 acres that features a pool and a lake facility. “Not only do we have an addiction recovery ministry we have a retreat center. We have churches that come and rent the facility for their own conferences and we do all kinds of events,” Dr. Welte added.
In September the facility hosted an anniversary concert featuring performers Tiffany Coburn and West Hampton in celebration of the 125 years of America’s Keswick’s addiction recovery program.
“On December 1 we have our Christmas Hymn Sing that we have 600 people coming to that. We are kind of the best kept secret of Manchester,” Welte said. The facility also hosted a Christmas Choir concert on November 26.
Welte noted, “we have a 20 member staff that graduated from the program. About a third of our staff are graduates of our addiction program. Six of our key leaders are grads of the program. I like to tell people I have an ex-con, a drug addict and an alcoholic leading the ministry. That is really cool. They all have their gifts.”
“Jim Lang is in basically in charge of this event. He was in hotel management before he became addicted to alcohol so now, he is here using his skills to oversee a good portion of our ministry,” Welte added.
Lang was busy at the registration desk helping to sign in trotters for the event. He was among those who wore a warm turkey costume for the activity. Others sported pilgrim top hats and some runners even wore their own turkey costumes as part of a special costume contest. The runners were of varied ages.
Among those running was Tyler Lehmann of Toms River. “Last year I was a volunteer here but this year I am going to run,” he said prior to the start of the event. “I’ve done four or five 5Ks before.”
This is my first time here and I am excited to run and support America’s Keswick,” Kerry Elliott of Brick said as she was warming up in the gym in preparation for the trot. “I know someone who was received help here and I want to support them.”
“This is my first run and. I love running,” she added.
Kenney told The Manchester Times a few days after the event that they surpassed their goal. “As of today, we received just over $37,000 to support the addiction recovery.”