HONESDALE— For 28 years, the nation has recognized September as a time to reflect on and reaffirm the significance of individuals' recovery from traumatic or destructive life experiences.

To honor those who have undergone or are currently in a recovery process, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners proclaimed September as National Recovery Month.

Joining the commissioners in recognizing Recovery Month were representatives from the Wayne County Drug & Alcohol Commission (D&A) and the Psychological Rehabilitation Unit from the county office of Behavioral and Developmental Programs and Early Intervention (BDP/EI).

Also at the meeting were five recovered/recovering individuals, proud to share their stories of success in the hope of inspiring others to reach out for the help they need.

“The first step in the recovery fight is recognizing there is a problem...” explained Wayne County D&A Director Jeffrey Zerechak at the meeting.

He went on to explain D&A's recovery program is readily accessible for those in need.

The D&A office is located at 318 Tenth Street in Honesdale. It can be reached by phone at (570) 253-6022.

“I feel privileged to be able to advocate for recovery,” said Zerechak.

As a testament to the recovery program's quality, Amanda Crane shared her personal experiences with it as both client and collaborator.

“The Wayne County Drug and Alcohol Commission really has saved my life,” Crane explained, sharing her story of struggle with addiction and recovery from it.

“[D&A is] like a family, they really do all care about you.”

Crane said she now gives back to the program by participating in the county's System of Care, helping others like herself find the support they need.

“You don't always end up in jail or dead,” said Crane. “There is also recovery.”

Representing the Psychological Rehabilitation Unit, Kim Follmer said one in five adults experience mental illness every year.

One in five youths experience serious mental illness in that same time span, she added.

Of the 2.2 million cases of substance abuse disorder, just over half also suffer from mental illness.

Citing the “Ubuntu” anecdote about community and togetherness, Follmer said, “When we come together in Wayne County, we all enjoy the fruits of recovery together.”

Accompanying Follmer were rehabilitation clients Tammy Fritsch, Mary Handler, Devin Post and Randy Philip Edward Orso.

Each shared their stories with the common theme of finding help leading to brighter experiences.

Fritsch, Handler, Post and Orso also related how they continue to aid others' recovery by sharing their stories to inspire those in need.

BDP/EI is available to those in need by phone at (570) 253-9200.

The commissioners commended all before them for facing their struggles and overcoming them with help.

They attested to not only the bravery it takes to share their personal stories, but the immense benefit such bravery provides other who may be walking similar paths.

“It's always easy to tell when people who truly love caring and are compassionate and sincere …,” said Commissioner Joe Adams.

“It's refreshing to have a blast of fresh air of truly sincere love, care and compassion for yourself and for others and for the providers who are doing their absolute best to help all of you.”

Commissioner Brian Smith continued the sentiment stating, “We see the evidence that great things are happening. … Having you come into a meeting and illustrate these things to us is just … extremely important and lends so much credibility to the programs that represent you.”

Commissioner Wendell Kay stated that, in the county's day-to-day business, the commissioners don't always get to see the real people affected by their policies.

“You are a constant reminder … about that, about what our job really is about.”

He continued, “You help to remind us how important that is.”

Kay concluded with an allusion to witnessing other county's operations. He stated “We know we're lucky … to be where we are because things aren't always done in other counties the way that they're done here.

There will be a Recovery Month celebration at the Ritz Theatre in Hawley tonight at 6 p.m.

All are welcome to attend and join together in supporting those who have succeeded on their journey to recovery or still wending their way down that trail.