Voices for Recovery Ivy Tech-1.jpg (copy)

Tracy Skaggs leads the rally walk around the Ivy Tech campus in Sellersburg as part of her coordinator event with the school, Voices for Recovery, in 2018. She plans to grow this year's event, which will be held in midtown New Albany. 

NEW ALBANY — A Southern Indiana woman is partnering with local community agencies to help bring awareness to addiction and resources in the area, and put faces to the people who have or are experiencing it.

On Sept. 14, community members and leaders will gather for Join the Faces of Recovery; Bridging the Gap in Our Community — the second annual recovery rally organized in part by Tracy Skaggs, a woman with now more than three years' sobriety under her belt.

"Our goal is for this to not only offer resources to community members within Southern Indiana," Skaggs said. "But to put a face on statistical numbers."

Registration for the free event, a partnership between Skaggs, Our Place Drug and Alcohol Education and the Breakaway, will start at 11 a.m. at Forward Church on Vincennes Street, where dozens of resources will be available to help those affected by addiction.

"If you have someone who is in active addiction, we're going to have treatment services there," Skaggs said. "If you have someone who needs to be involved in recovery services, we're going to have someone there. If you have a grandparent who is just needing support services, that person will be there.

"Our focus is to have every resource that someone might need right there at their fingertips."

At noon, Indiana Drug Czar Jim McClelland will speak inside the church, followed by a recovery walk starting at 1 p.m. — those marching in honor of those they have lost due to addiction from drugs or alcohol. Skaggs said the plan is to start at the church and split into two groups: one walking toward Market Street, the other toward Elm Street.

The groups will then continue before meeting as one in front of Our Place at Spring and Fourth streets, where executive director MeriBeth Adams-Wolf will speak.

"There is a lot of symbolism with this rally," Skaggs said. "So many community members have these loved ones they have lost but they don't think they have a voice or any way to help.

"We need these community members to be heard."

Fourth-graders in an after school program will work with women from the Breakaway to make posters for the marchers to carry, each bearing photos of people who lost their battles with addiction.

"I thought that would give them a real, viable role and help them understand more about why prevention is important," Adams-Wolf said. Our Place sponsors the after school program, After School Rocks.

Adams-Wolf said the women will share their stories, allowing the students to see the challenges those women are facing and that their families have had to really kind of understand it," she said. "It's really kind of one of those everybody walks away with a win-win from that."

A big piece of what Our Place does is in primary addiction prevention, and that's why helping to spread the word about the resources available in the area is so important, Adams-Wolf said.

"It's not only about making people aware of resources, it's about making those resources accessible and making those programs acceptable" to the people who could benefit from them, Adams-Wolf said.

"If we don't truly decide that we are going to embrace prevention we are always going to be in the crisis mode, trying to catch those who are falling victim to addiction and the other related issues," she said.

Skaggs said it's important to her to help be a voice in her community for those who may not know assistance is out there.

"[These] are the streets I walk on, that my children walk on, that my grandchildren walk on," she said. "These are our community members' loved ones that are dying every day. You have children who are losing their parents, you have parents who are losing their children. And you have grandparents who are raising these kids, there's not one person who's not affected."

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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