TOMS RIVER – Hope Sheds Light is one of several active agencies that has a mission to assist those facing addiction as well as to support their family members. That mission has been made more difficult during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Heather Price, the organization’s volunteer and outreach coordinator has been hosting weekly Zoom meetings to communicate with members of not only her organization but other support agencies as well to compare notes on how to help those who are facing challenges of addiction during the pandemic.
“We have a very small staff but we have volunteers who are the heartbeat of our organization. We provide 24/7 hotline support, online resources, community education, community outreach, family support services, youth programs, wellness programs and family management skills,” Price said.
She added, “we celebrate those in recovery. We are peer to peer support so most of us are either people in long-term recovery or family members. We raise social awareness. We share experience, strength and hope, resources and navigation and we do all that to create community change and to break the stigma of addiction.”
Price said the volunteers at the center have been trained through a national program called CCAR which is a nationally recognized academy. “Part of my role is to train them so I am a certified trainer in CCAR which you can send in your certificate to once you have completed those courses to the state of New Jersey to be a certified peer recovery specialist.”
She noted it was a three to four-day training for each course. The volunteers are scheduled in shifts to help navigate the resources of treatment.”
Hope Sheds Light holds Tuesday meetings specifically aimed at family members of those who are in recovery or are seeking recovery. “One is our Finding Hope meeting which meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. This meeting has an educational speaker and afterwards we break into small groups to talk and support each other about the process of recovery and speak about life on life’s terms.”
Price said the “Finding Recovery” meeting is on the first and third Tuesday of the month also at 7 p.m. and it is a topic driven meeting. She said it involves fellowship and “since we are a family focused organization we support the whole family in long term recovery.”
The group offers a grief and bereavement program called Human Hearts on Thursday nights from 6 to 7 p.m. “This is for those who lost their loved ones to the disease of addiction,” Price said.
She said that the Recovery Center has a Circle of Hope Garden set up that family members can purchase pavers in the name of loved ones who have passed.
The center also normally offers a rotating calendar of programs that include tai chi, yoga, painting, wellness Wednesdays, and performing artists for the youth, a fitness class and a program to understand your addiction.
“What these programs look like now is that they are all completely virtual. We recently received a grant to work with children who are affected by the disease and who may be living with their aunt or grand mom.”
Price noted that while Zoom and other online platforms have proven useful to facilitate sessions during the pandemic, it was not the same as a live session and on occasion has its technical glitches. She did say “Zoom is a lot simpler than I thought it would be. Typically when we are running one of our family meetings we have a member of our staff that will reach out to anyone who has a problem signing in.”
She added that HOPE Sheds Light has a Facebook page. “Our volunteers are answering calls for our 24/7 hotline. Price said she and members of the staff are also recovery coaches.
“We also work with Ocean County College with some support services as well,” Price said.
Once the health restrictions are lifted, “all of what we are doing virtually will go back into the center including its many Saturday programs and their Tuesday family meetings.
Price noted that most treatment facilities are open currently and some “are even offering extended services which is fantastic to see.”
Willis said of the organization, “there is transformative power here. The Hope Recovery Center is a national model and there is absolutely no reason, with God’s grace, that it won’t happen. It needs to happen and it’s happening.”
Price discussed her agency’s background during the session, which was created in 2012 when its co-founder Ron Rosetto lost his son Marc to a battle against substance abuse. Today, HOPE Sheds Light serves the community with support and resources available to those affected by addiction and their families. Rosetto partnered with Stephen Willis and Arvo Prima.
Last December, HOPE Sheds Light opened a new Hope Recovery Center located at 253 Chestnut St., Toms River.
The non-profit organization, whose mission is to educate families on the disease of addiction, is led by representatives of the local recovery community. The organization’s CEO, Pamela Capaci had said previously that HOPE Sheds Light was “a hub for community members to access peer-based recovery support services, community education and outreach programs, academic and vocational training, family strengthening and reunification programs, trauma-informed support services, family support groups, social/recreational outings, wellness workshops and physical activities for the whole family.”
For more information, visit HOPEShedsLight.org.