After near collapse of recovery center, Franklin advocates will go to D.C. to push community resources

  • Stephen Foster, Carolee Longley of Northfield and Grateful Cafe and Sober Club organizer Mike Fitz-Patrick of Tilton dance at a sober dance a Hope for Recovery in Franklin last November.  LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Monday, April 16, 2018

Carolee Longley’s last months as manager of the Hope for New Hampshire Recovery Center in Franklin have tested her faith.

A 28-year survivor of addiction, it was shocking for Longley in February when the state’s largest drug recovery organization announced intentions to close several centers – including hers in Franklin – due to a lack of funding.

“It was incredibly difficult,” Longley said. “We were feeling exhausted and a need to be reinvigorated in our work.”

The state later committed to paying to keep Longley’s center open, but it was not without a lot of scrambling, protests and tears on the part of her team.

Now, to renew their commitment to the recovery field, Longley and four of her collegues will be attending the Addiction Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., at the end of the month.

The Addiction Policy Forum is a national nonprofit advocating for more comprehensive drug policies in the criminal justice system, childcare services and expanded recovery support programs like Hope for N.H. Recovery in communities.

The Forum is putting on a three-day advocacy conference April 24-26, where advocates will have the chance to speak with legislators and learn about work in the field across the country.

Longley said she saw an advertisement for the event in early March, but she was worried about the cost of airfare to Washington, so she decided to apply for a scholarship by writing a personal essay about her experience with addiction.

Longley wrote about her own journey through sobriety, and how her work with Hope for N.H. hosting peer support meetings and generating social services for other people with substance use disorders helped keep her on that path.

She also shared the more personal story about losing her cousin to a heroin overdose in Boscawen a few years ago.

When Longley found out she was accepted to the program, she also learned that four of her colleagues airfare and hotel rooms will be paid for by the Addiction Policy Forum.

One of the individuals attending with Longley will be volunteer Mike Fitzpatrick, who is working to create a nonprofit organization, called Grateful Sober Cafe, to hold social events, like dances, for people in recovery.

The group will attend a banquet with other recovery advocates from the United States and visit Capitol Hill to talk to legislators about funding for recovery resources while in Washington.

Longley said she reached out to Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen to see if they may be able to meet up during the group’s stay.

Longley is leaving her position as manager of Hope for N.H. this month, and she hopes to see more support for the organization and ones like it in the future.

“The idea that we have several recovery centers in the state is wonderful, but we need to continue to advocate for resources for people to be able to initiate and sustain recovery,” she said. “Recovery is an ongoing lifelong process and for people to be able to continue in that, we need community supports.”