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Save the Date! Thriving in Recovery Gala!


Save the Date! The “Thriving in Recovery” Gala will be held May 5th, 2016 at Normandy Farm in Bluebell, PA.

The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc. is grateful for 40 years servicing families and communities in this region.  We’ve made great strides, with national recognition for integrating cutting-edge, evidence-based programming in prevention, intervention and recovery, providing services impacting over 15,000 individuals annually.  As we operationalize our strategic plan for expansion of services throughout Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware counties and Philadelphia to reduce the impact of addiction throughout the region, we want to recognize and celebrate those thriving in recovery.  While addiction is a complex problem, 23 million Americans are living in long-term recovery.  We are asking you to invest in our work, our shared community, and a brighter future free from stigma, discrimination and barriers to healthy living.

For the past year, the Council has been capturing stories of individuals thriving in recovery from our community, across the spectrum of addiction and circumstance.  The message is undeniable: Addiction is costly, but there is hope; long-term recovery is possible and is a good investment.

It is with much excitement that on May , 5, 2016, The Council will host the “Thriving in Recovery” Gala.  It will evoke the celebratory atmosphere associated with this date in a recovery-rich environment.  We will celebrate the advances that have been made and will recommit to the work that still needs to be done – together.

Your support of the “Thriving in Recovery” capital campaign and gala will recognize the importance of community in preventing addition and sustaining recovery.

Stay tuned to learn how you can support this campaign.

Tree of Hope 2015


Save the Date! Tree of Hope 2015 will be held December 16th!

Click here to purchase an ornament.

Since 1990, The Council has been extending invitations to the community to decorate the “Tree of Hope” with personalized ornaments bearing the names of people being honored. Whether to commemorate those who have lost their lives to addiction or to celebrate and honor a life gained in recovery, each ornament placed on the 18-foot evergreen is a representation of the hope of recovery from addiction. If you are unable to attend, you may choose to have us place your ornament on the tree in your absence.

The “Tree of Hope” is also a unique opportunity to acknowledge individuals who have made a positive impact in your life or the life of others as they struggle against this often misunderstood disease.  Please join us in honoring family members who have successfully achieved recovery, and commemorating survivors, mentors, and/or loved ones who have been lost to addiction.

25,000 Celebrate Recovery

0446795c-48c4-4851-ae32-39364102704aThe Council would like to thank the record breaking 25,000 people who walked in support of recovery. Individuals, families, elected officials, organizations, businesses and schools came to Penn’s Landing for the 14th Annual Recovery Walks! 2015.

You demonstrated that the Recovery Community is a constituency of consequence, that is willing to stand up to end stigma and be a voice for the 20 million still needing to access services to sustain long-term recovery.

Over 300 members of the Honor Guard, representing a total of 5,629 years in recovery, led the walk.

During the walk, education and advocacy activities included:

  • New voter registration
  • Family education booth
  • Petition to Pennsylvania lawmakers to pass a budget that includes $20 million for emergency treatment
  • Pennsylvania Commitment for Involvement in Healthcare Advocacy
  • Naloxone Education and Overdose Prevention Information Distribution

This year, we received more media attention than ever before!  There is power in numbers and our voices are being heard!  Plan to attend Recovery Walks! 2016 next September.

From 60 Days to Purple Sash

Written by Brooke Feldman

Honor Guard 5

As a 24-year-old with about 60 days drug-free and in the very infancy of my recovery journey, I looked around and studied the crowd gathering at Memorial Hall in Philly’s Fairmount Park.  The recovery house I was residing in mandated that all residents come to this thing called a “recovery walk” before going on our home passes.  To be brutally honest, many of us were just eager to get this mandatory event over with so we could move onto the main attraction of the day – our hard earned and highly coveted weekend passes that allowed us to get away from one another and the recovery house.

As I took the whole scene in, I was surprised by the large number of people gathered there.  I was most amazed by the individuals and families who did not appear to be in a mandated recovery house wolf-pack formation but instead present on their own accord.  I was astonished that these folks actually chose to spend their Saturday morning at this event.  Some people even brought their dogs with them, these adorable little puppies and big golden retrievers with recovery-oriented t-shirts wrapped around their four-legged frames.  As more and more people descended upon the area, I began to get the chills.  I didn’t realize that there were so many people in recovery!  As a man named Vincent Faust led the walkers in a “2005 PRO-ACT Recovery Walks! warmup”, we all hunkered in closer to one another and moved toward the stage.  I recall the electrifying energy being something unlike anything I’d ever felt.  To be part of a crowd of hundreds of people gathered in the name of recovery was indescribable.  To go on to walk side by side people just like me gave me unimaginable hope.  It gave me hope that this thing called recovery works.  It gave me hope that I could live the rest of my life without using alcohol and other drugs because these people were doing it.  It gave me hope that I was not alone.  Ultimately, this hope changed my life.

I returned to the Recovery Walks! the very next year, this time not as a recovery house resident but, instead, as an employee of that recovery house.  I explained to the residents who now griped about having to go to the event that they would be so glad they did.  I stood among them with tears in my eyes as I saw the look on many of their faces – that same look of awe I had the year before.  I also observed that the crowd had grown even larger than the year before, and again I felt that swelling of hope in my heart.  Lastly, I noticed that some people were walking around wearing purple sashes with numbers pinned to them, and I asked somebody what that was about.  “Oh, that’s for the Honor Gaurd.  Those purple sashes mean they have 10 or more years in recovery.”  I smiled and immediately thought to my 25-year-old self,with just over a year in recovery at this point, “Wow, 10 years?  That’s pretty cool.  I’m going to get one of those sashes one day.”

I returned to Recovery Walks! the next year, this time with a job so far beyond my wildest dreams.  I had gone on to work for PRO-ACT, and now I was at the walk as an employee of the very organization responsible for organizing the event.  The walk was, again, even bigger than the year before, and I got to be part of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make it happen.  I now played a part in creating the very same event that had so impacted my own recovery and my own life a few years before.

Year after year I’ve returned to Recovery Walks!, and year after year it has continued to grow and surpass the year before.  The walk has now grown from a few hundred people walking in the shadows of Fairmount Park to over 23,000 people clogging the streets of my city’s center.  I’ve gotten to watch though gratitude tear-filled eyes as that magnificent mass of people gathers in solidarity to show that recovery is possible. I have continued to be blown away by the magnitude of the recovery community and its allies.  And yes, year after year, I’ve continued to eye up those purple sashes rocked by the Honor Guard and whisper to myself  “I’m going to get one of those sashes one day.”

That ‘one day’ has come.

This year, my 10th year of long-term sustained recovery, I will be walking with the Honor Guard in the PRO-ACT Recovery Walks! for the first time.  I will be walking evidence that long-term recovery is possible.  I will be graced with experiencing what it is like to be part of the group leading over 23,000 people through the streets of Philadelphia as we aim to reduce stigma, end discrimination, increase awareness and expand access to prevention, treatment and recovery support services.

As I anticipate lifting that long desired purple sash up over my head and across my chest, I can still see that 24-year-old version of myself.  I can still see that young person with 60 days drug-free who didn’t know if recovery worked, who didn’t know if life was going to be worth living, who didn’t know that there were millions and millions of people just like her.  I still see that 24-year-old version of myself in my mind’s eye and I smile as I think, “Wow.  We got that purple sash after-all.  Now let’s make sure other’s have an opportunity to get their sash too.”


Learn more about Recovery Walks!, register, start a team and begin fundraising today by visiting

Step Out of the Shadows

As I stared through watery eyes at pictures of a rainbow-splattered White House recently, I was moved like never before by the magnificent power contained in a critical mass courageously stepping out of the shadows.

I thought of all the small acts of bravery that many individuals performed and considered the immense personal risks that many individuals took. I thought about the ridicule some faced and about others who lost their jobs, found themselves shunned by their families, misunderstood by their friends or judged by their communities. I marveled at how despite these significant challenges, many still stepped out of the shadows and boldly stood for their truth. The results of this boldness and authenticity are as clear as the red, yellow, green, purple and blue lights that illuminated the walls of the White House. Change happened, and quite literally, the light of the movement shined upon the heart of America’s democracy.

I then thought to myself, “What if?

What if another social issue near and dear to my heart were to be met with the same critical mass courageously stepping out of the shadows? What if this other group of individuals who have been stigmatized, discriminated against, and treated with far less than the equality they are promised in our Constitution were to so boldly step out of the shadows and into their truth?

What if the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction were to come out of the shadows and let the world know of their stories and their solutions?


What if over 23 million Americans and their families, friends, communities and allies stood as one and demanded equality?

But before I could answer, another gnawing question that has lingered with me came to mind:

How exactly has the LBGTQ+ equality movement been able to muster such momentum and achieve such significant gains, including widespread support from allies, businesses, legislators, religious leaders, higher education institutions and more? How did this happen and what do we, as the addiction recovery advocacy movement, have to learn here?

While the answer to this question is certainly complex, multi-faceted and systemic in nature, there is one thing that continues to jump out at me. Money—yes, it’s the M word. The LGBTQ+ equality movement has been able to secure financial support in a rather impressive fashion not only from members of the LBGTQ communities themselves but from their allies and supporters as well. This financial support serves as a catalyst for obtaining and sustaining access to the resources needed to carry out the cause.

With 350 people dying across America every single day from the treatable illness of substance use disorder, we cannot afford to roll along as slowly as we have. It is imperative that we put money into funding services and campaigns with the same ferocity and dedication that the LGBTQ+ equality movement has shown us. The time is NOW for the addiction recovery advocacy movement to finds ways to secure financial support from its own vast network of recovery communities, along with its allies and supporters.

One way you can act immediately is by registering to attend the PRO-ACT Recovery Walk ( on September 19th at Penn’s Landing and begin fundraising.  Whether as a sponsor; an individual, team member or team captain; or donor if you cannot attend; every dollar you contribute will help PRO-ACT ( to erase stigma, fight discrimination, increase awareness of the benefits of recovery, and provide support and resources to individuals and families working to achieve long-term recovery.

Step out of the shadows on September 19 with 23,000 other supporters of recovery and participate in the largest walk ever assembled in support of addiction recovery—PRO-ACT’s 14th annual Recovery Walk. Put a face and voice on recovery; show that recovery is possible; and honor those who have lost their lives.

Stepping out of the shadows takes courage. Recovery takes courage. But the LGBTQ+ equality movement has shown us just how much power we have to initiate change if we show courage by stepping out and speaking up.

Please join us on September 19th at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia by registering at

Brooke Feldman
Project Coordinator, Supporting Youth Recovery
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.


Join the Council Team!

Volunteer Celebration 2015

Volunteer Celebration 2015

As a recent addition to The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc., I can say that I have never had a more fulfilling position.  Each day, I feel honored to contribute my strengths and skills to an organization that truly makes a difference in the lives of so many members of my community.  The disease of addiction affects individuals, families and our community as a whole.  The Council is an open, warm environment full of compassion where members of staff and volunteers work together as a team with a focused mission.

The primary purpose of The Council is to provide resources and opportunities to reduce the impact of addiction, trauma, and other related health issues.

I am constantly amazed by the volunteers for The Council.   So many volunteers share in our mission and contribute their talents and time for the benefit of our community.  The Council recently hosted a Volunteer Appreciation event to honor those individuals who give so much of themselves to others.   This activity and the passion that went into planning it gave me a sense of pride to be a part of an organization that respects and appreciates its volunteers.

Currently, we are expanding our services and will welcome four new staff members at our main line location.  We are now accepting resumes for Recovery Support Project Coordinator, Certified Recovery Specialists, and a Part-Time Administrative Assistant.  Working for The Council is an opportunity to share life experience and expertise and to contribute to hope and healing for those whose lives have been affected by addiction.

For more information on our open positions, visit our employment page

 Melanie Boyd works as the Special Projects Administrator and Central Office Coordinator at The Council.  She joined The Council in December 2014.  Melanie supports several programs, marketing and training through The Council.  She holds a BS in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. 

The Transformative Power and Impact of Volunteering at PRO-ACT: Marie’s Story

MarieVolunteering saves and transforms lives. Those of us in recovery who actively decide to give back are more than survivors: we are champions of our own recovery and we are given extraordinary opportunities to champion the cause of those battling addiction.

Volunteers in recovery understand that their service is essential to sustaining their own recovery and in providing support, hope, and education to communities in the throes of a drug crisis and opiate epidemic.

 “Every day is a new beginning to make a difference in someone’s life,” observes longtime Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center/PRO-ACT volunteer Marie Widmeier. She began her volunteering journey back in 2012 when she experienced that moment of clarity, “I knew what I needed to do-to get back to a way of living that my mother showed me.”

True to her word, Marie invests her boundless energy and dedication in every one of her volunteer experiences. For the past three years she has chaired the ornament committee for The Council’s Tree of Hope ceremony held every December. Taking on this leadership role has helped heal Marie as she recovers from losing her parents and beloved sponsor to tragic circumstances. Marie reflects on how much the people at PRO-ACT mean to her: “for me, it’s a lasting recovering family.”

Once shrouded in guilt and despair, Marie, whose first name means “star of the sea” has flourished because of her direct involvement in Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center’s programs. She facilitates a weekly recovery discussion group every Wednesday afternoon, and organizes fundraising events such as Karaoke and a pancake breakfast held at Applebee’s. Marie understands that her altruism also inspires our recovery community. She is bold about sharing how much PRO-ACT has done for her: “there is deeper meaning in life when we serve the needs of others.” Whether Marie is chairing a meeting at her favorite clubhouse or delivering a speech at her community college, Marie’s devotion is evident. Marie lives by example.

Gaining confidence and leadership skills through her active and vigorous volunteering, Marie is ready to graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and Management. As a single mom of a 19 year-old son, Marie encouraged her son to graduate early and pursue a college degree. Currently Marie and her son take classes at Bucks County Community College. They are clearly a dynamic duo whose drive and motivation sets the standard for others.

Marie has seized the day with her multiple involvement in committees at her college. She is the Recording Secretary for Kappa Beta Delta, a business honor society. Marie also serves as the Lower Bucks Campus Coordinator for Students Advocating Student Success. A fierce and proud student, Marie obviously loves to learn; she thrives in an educational environment where she will definitely graduate with top honors.

Marie’s philosophy in life is simple, “the advice I would give to a new volunteer is to wake up and commit to one thing that will make a difference.”

There are many of us who have had the honor of witnessing the transformation in Marie. Marie expresses her gratitude in these words:” I have learned to stay out of myself that was sad and depressed; instead, I am learning to connect with the joy inside of me-those little pieces call me on a daily basis.”

Karen M. Burke
Volunteer Coordinator
Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center/PRO-ACT

Martin Luther King Day of Service and PRO-ACT

MLK dayWe are excited to announce PRO-ACT and The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania’s Fourth Annual participation in the city-wide “MLK Day of Service” being held at the Philadelphia Recovery Community Center (PRCC), 1701 W. Lehigh Ave. Philadelphia PA 19132, on Monday, January 19th 2015 from 9 am-1 pm. Come and join over 150 volunteers impacting our community as we clean up the neighborhood and celebrate the memory of Dr. King. MLK Day of service was created to promote year-round volunteerism and civic engagement.

PRO-ACT’s Amends in Action committee has organized this event since 2011, partnering with numerous community agencies including: Ready, Willing & Able, MLK365, Net, MinSec, DBH, Global Citizen, and Philadelphia Streets Dept. This committee is always ready to lend a helping hand in the community to help reduce the sigma of addiction and put a positive face and voice on recovery. Participation in the MLK Day of Service is one of the many ways PRO-ACT volunteers positively impact the community in which the disease of addiction has impacted so greatly.

Each year, participation in this event grows tremendously. In 2011, 85 volunteers from various organizations and the community collected 80 bags of garbage within a 10 block radius from Broad and Lehigh Ave. to 22nd and Lehigh Ave. In 2014, 126 volunteers collected 208 bags. This year we are hoping to make an even greater impact with more volunteers and more garbage bags filled! 

In addition to cleaning up the neighborhood, participants enjoy light breakfast refreshments, hot beverages, and a warm lunch. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had a vision of people of diverse backgrounds interacting on a personal level by encouraging them to share and discuss issues that affect their communities in order to increase racial and cultural understanding and unity. Additional activities such as watching the inauguration ceremony of President Barak Obama, black history trivia games, and reflection of the legacy of Dr. King and the civil rights movement have been included to ensure an enjoyable volunteer experience and to promote unity.

So bring your children, neighbors, co-workers and join PRO-ACT on Monday, January 19th, 2015 and be a part of this nationwide experience. For more information on how you and your organization can get involved contact She-Ria Bethea at 215-223-7700 or John Carlson at 215-923-1661.

MLK Day of Services shows the strength and power of the people to build up a community together and fulfills Dr. King’s vision for a better America.

She-Ria Bethea
Assistant Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteering and Leadership Development


Volunteering provides the forum to work outside your comfort zone, yielding an opportunity to work with new challenges, people, public policies, and behavioral change. Volunteering sets into action new priorities for people who need direction. Volunteering also offers opportunities for people in recovery, family members, and friends in the community to be the authentic voice for change. Learning new skills, responsibilities, and community service all contribute to Leadership development.

PRO-ACT Ambassadors for Recovery is built on strong leadership principles through the help of skilled volunteers.  Developing leadership skills in our volunteers is one of the main goals. PRO-ACT achieves leadership development through many vehicles.  Let’s talk about five strong platforms, which include the recovery plan, Group Leader and Facilitator, 15 minute interview, Recovery Mentoring, and the Philadelphia Peer Leadership Academy (PPLA).

The critical path of a new volunteer starts with a 15-minute interview involving the Volunteer Coordinator. This meeting establishes goals and a training path that you, as a new volunteer, can follow and achieve. In the interview we take note of what your strengths and interests are and learn what you like to do. We match your skills and interests to the roles that fit you best. A portion of the meeting is spent on developing a shared vision and mission, which offers hope for the organization and its volunteers. Going forward the volunteer develops their own mission directed in the leadership development path.

The recovery plan helps you achieve your personal vision and mission through establishing goals focusing on your strengths, skills, and actions. The purpose is to strengthen the recovery path of each volunteer, providing self-discipline to achieve their goals. The next path concerning leadership development is Group Leadership and Facilitation. This certified training allows you to get facilitation skills and a foundation to become a group leader. This certificate creates a solid foundation in leadership skills that help prepare you for the future.

The process of leadership development starts with assessing skills, strengths, interests and opportunities for improvement. The Recovery Mentoring Training starts with the assessment process and cataloging these assessment findings mixed with background and interests that aid in Peer recovery support services. Recovery Mentoring is a new approach in assisting an individual in his or her pursuit of a recovery lifestyle. Recovery Mentors function on a peer- to- peer basis with the mentor reviewing the meaning of the pathways to recovery and their importance.  Applying Mentoring skills in the field help to shape and mold the volunteer into a practiced leader.

 One of PRO-ACT’s actions relating to the mission is Zip-Code Advocacy. Once an organization has identified a project such as Zip-Code Advocacy, engaging volunteers to lead these programs is a crucial part in developing leadership skills while positively changing the community through on the job training. Developed leadership skills create authenticity of voice through building true character promoting change in the community. PRO-ACT develops leaders to offer opportunities to make their voices heard while providing community service. The Philadelphia Peer Leadership Academy training structure encompasses these leadership tools. PPLA is designed to develop leadership skills that propel the individual, while supporting the foundation of leaders developing leaders providing services for the interest of the community.

Volunteer Quote on Leadership:

“I am honored to know how to transition the Leadership Principles to the role of zip-code advocacy to the community and increase my strength in that role. I now understand what leadership is and how to present myself as one. I am now a new leader for the world thanks to PRO-ACT!” – PPLA graduate and PRO-ACT Volunteer

To get involved, contact one of our Volunteer Coordinators:
Central Bucks:  Email or call Rick at 215-345-6644
Southern Bucks:  Email or call Karen at 215-788-3738 x100
Philadelphia: Email or call She-Ria at 215-233-7700 or Email John or call 215-923-1661 
Chester, Delaware and Montco: Email or call John at 215-923-1661
PRO-ACT Recovery Walks! Committees: Email  or call John at 215-923-1661

John K Carlson
Volunteer Coordinator
Philadelphia Recovery Training Center

How Schools Can Help Preserve the Next Generation

apple for teacherThrough our “Preserving the Next Generation” series, we have discussed the importance of addressing the intergenerational cycle of addiction and using the Search Institute 40 Developmental Assets to build protective factors in our youth.  Schools also play a huge role in the lives of our youth and can be powerful in the prevention of youth substance use.  One of my favorite quotes by Ron Edmonds, 1986 states “A school can create a coherent environment, a climate, more potent that any single influence – teachers, class, family, neighborhood, so potent that for at least six hours a day it can override almost everything else in the lives of children”.

Academics remains the forefront in any educational setting, however, as needs of students have grown, so has the ability of schools to address the social-emotional needs of students and families.  One of the most successful programs in Pennsylvania that addresses the needs of students is the Student Assistance Program (SAP).  Now in its 30th year, SAP helps schools identify students who are experiencing behavior and or academic difficulties that are posing a barrier to their learning and success in school. SAP offers support to those students and their families.  The Council has been a proud Commonwealth Approved Trainer in the Student Assistance Program, training over 75 education professionals each year how to assist students and their families.  Schools can identify students, through observable behaviors, who may need support in academics, attendance, health or behaviors.  This comprehensive program is confidential, supportive and successful.  Through SAP, students and families may be linked to school or community-based supports to help the student maintain a healthy and happy future. 

Schools can also utilize the Search Institutes 40 Developmental Assets to preserve the next generation.  Out of the 40 identified assets, school can foster 22 assets in students alone.  Some schools develop 40 asset themes where they identify certain assets to foster throughout the month, or semester.  They then plan universal programming to the students to teach about those assets.   Schools also partner with Community That Care Coalitions who provide essential prevention programming to educate students on alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention.   Prevention programs can encompass classroom presentation, student assemblies and school-based groups. 

All these program teach youth skills and interventions to help support their health and success in their personal lives and academic careers.  Common tools that are taught to students are positive decision-making skills, refusal skills, healthy relationships, and positive communication skills, as well as the dangers of substance use.  Schools also can assist families with obtaining educational materials that address talking to youth about substance abuse, assistance with access to treatment providers, recovery support services and aftercare planning for students returning after treatment. 

To learn more about services available in schools and what additional supports The Council offers to schools please contact us at 215-230-8218 ext. 5 or visit our website at

Melissa Groden, MS, HS-BCP
Prevention and School Services Manager

Bailiwick Office Campus Unit 12, 252 West Swamp Rd. Doylestown, PA 18901 | 215.345.6644


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