Harford County is spending September putting out the message that recovery from drug addiction is possible, with a multi-faceted National Recovery Month campaign that includes illuminating buildings throughout the county in purple lights, social media campaigns, multiple community events, even a YouTube video.
“We hope to show the families and folks in the recovery community, folks who are still in the grip of addiction, that Harford County welcomes them to the other side, to a life without drugs, and that a life of recovery can be fun, fulfilling and full of happiness,” county government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Tuesday.
The video, which to premiered on the HarfordCountyMD YouTube channel Wednesday, features multiple Harford residents and representatives of government agencies and community organizations — even a few celebrities such as former Baltimore Orioles shortstop and Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr., former Baltimore Raven and NFL wide receiver Qadry Ismail and comedian Dion Flynn.
The group will perform its rendition of the song “Don’t Give Up on Me" by Andy Grammer, led by Natasha Jackson, Harford County’s mediation coordinator and coordinator of the Harford County Recovery Choir, according to Mumby and a news release from the county government.
The video will show “many different groups of people singing along to send that message that recovery is possible, and recovery rocks,” Mumby said.
“The opioid epidemic has brought terrible suffering to our community and our nation, but there are encouraging stories of recovery too,” County Executive Barry Glassman said in a statement. “This month we celebrate thousands of individuals who have overcome addiction in Harford County, and those who continue to fight on the front lines."
Glassman has, since his first term started in late 2014, worked to address the epidemic of addiction to heroin and other opioids in Harford County through funding of various public outreach programs and efforts to bring addiction issues into the light.
“Reducing that stigma is a very important factor in encouraging folks who are addicted to seek help,” Mumby said.
She said county officials have seen an increase in the number of people “who have overcome that hurdle” and sought help.
The county is working to inspire people to seek recovery and to let them know they have support in the community.
Buildings county-wide will be lit up in purple, the color symbolizing National Recovery Month, throughout September, including county and municipal government buildings, libraries, volunteer fire company firehouses, businesses, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s hospitals in Bel Air and Havre de Grace.
Billboards along Route 1 advertising the Klein Family Harford Crisis Center in Bel Air will be lit purple, plus strings of purple lights can be obtained from the Harford County Health Department, and purple glow-sticks will be distributed during “select” Harford County Public Schools athletic events, according to the news release.
People can also look for “Recovery Rocks" — hundreds of purple rocks that have messages of inspiration painted on them by people in recovery or who attended events to celebrate recovery, along sidewalks and trails. The rocks were donated by Jerry Preston Hauling of Jarrettsville; anybody who finds a rock can take a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #Harford4Recovery.
Multiple county agencies, as well as the Town of Bel Air and Upper Chesapeake Health, are partnering to post messages about recovery, community events and resources for treatment each day on various social media platforms.
A series of community events, starting Friday with a Rage Against Addiction crab feast, are scheduled for this month. The crab feast runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and will be at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air.
“That message of support for recovery and removing stigma is most powerful for someone who is right on the edge, who has made the decision to seek recovery,” Mumby said.
She said county officials want people to know that help and a “recovery community” are available.
“That can be very powerful to an individual at that time,” she said.
Recovery Month community events are as follows:
Friday: Rage Against Addiction crab feast at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church (6 to 9 p.m.)
Sept. 12: Homecoming Project gala at Water’s Edge Events Center (6 to 10 p.m.)
Sept. 13: Embracing Recovery and Wellness Summit Mountain Christian Church Abingdon Campus (8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)
Sept. 14: Char Hope Harbor of Strength Memorial Race at Tydings Park (8 to 11 a.m.)
Sept. 19: Discussion with Dr. Leonard Sax, author of “Boys Adrift,” “Girls on the Edge” and “Why Gender Matters” at Bel Air High School (6:30 to 8:00 p.m.)
Sept. 20: Harford County Kinship Conference - Relative’s Matter at the EpiCenter in Edgewood (8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
Sept. 20: Meet Jarrett J. Krosoczka, children’s author/illustrator of “Hey Kiddo” at the Havre de Grace Library (3 to 4 p.m.)
Sept. 24 and 26: Discussion with Marc Mero, professional wrestler and motivational speaker at Edgewood High School Sept. 24 and Patterson Mill High School on Sept. 26 ( 7 to 8:30 p.m.)
Sept 26: The Harford County Second Chance Job and Resource Fair at the EpiCenter in Edgewood (9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
People can also wear purple on Sept. 25, Recovery Awareness Day, in honor of family, friends and neighbors who have recovered from addiction, according to the news release.