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baltimoresun.com

Luncheon honors women in recovery

BY MARISSA GALLO, mgallo@theaegis.com

5:52 PM EDT, May 23, 2012

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Singer and songwriter Judy Collins and U.S. Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack spoke at the fifth Women in Recovery luncheon at Father Martin's Ashley Tuesday.

About 190 people attended the event at the alcoholism and drug addiction treatment center, which celebrated the power women's relationships have during the recovery process.

Collins, who was an alcoholic and entered treatment in 1978, shared her story of sobriety, said Stephanie Colao, marketing communications coordinator for Father Martin's Ashley.

The singer has been sober for the last 30 years and shared with the audience "how she copes on the day-to-day [basis] and what works for her," Colao said.

"This disease breaks your hearts, but in recovery you have to live on life's terms," Collins said during her speech. "There are always going to be things you want to change in the world, but the only thing you can change is yourself."

Collins has worked as an advocate for addiction recovery, as well as suicide prevention since her son killed himself in 1992.

Mack, who also spoke about her personal story of family and addiction, was this year's honoree for her efforts in fighting prescription drug abuse. Ashley board member Linda Carter, best known for her role as Wonder Woman, was the 2011 honoree.

Colao said Mack's mother was an alcoholic and other family members battled prescription drug addiction.

"She spoke about fighting for recovery in the nation," Colao explained about Mack's speech, "and wants to see national efforts take place."

Mack feels there is a stigma on prescription drug abuse and the issue is "something we need to address as a nation," Colao said.

Colao mentioned that both speakers were received "very well," especially when Collins sang an a cappella version of "Amazing Grace," one of her most signature recordings, and asked the crowd to sing along with her. "It was moving," Colao said.

To thank the guests, Mack was presented with an award — a bowl made from shards of glass "to represent the feeling of brokenness during addiction and being put back together in recovery," Colao said.

Collins was given a necklace made by an Ashley staff member who leads arts and crafts classes.

All proceeds from the fundraising luncheon went to the Mae Abraham Legacy Fund, which supports the women's program at Father Martin's Ashley and treatment scholarships for women.