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Immokalee Rez Campfire celebrates third year

By Judy Weeks

IMMOKALEE — The Immokalee Rez Campfire celebrated three years of service to the Recovery program on April 13. Located beside the lake behind the residence of Raynaldo and Norita Yzaguirre, it has been a tremendous success because of community involvement.

The campfire was originally initiated by Raynaldo Yzaguirre when he was seeking an opportunity to provide a service to his community and support the Recovery program in Immokalee. It began as a small fire in the weeds beside the lake and has evolved into a peaceful little park suitable for daily reflection. The site has become a labor of love and support that Yzaguirre maintains.

The well-manicured lawn and large log benches encircle a rock-lined fire pit. Sustaining support from people like Robert Cypress with his loads of firewood and volunteer cleanup crews following recovery meetings make it possible for Yzaguirre to provide this safe place for meetings and support services for those in need.

The campfire has had its ups and downs with participation ranging from three to 75 people. Nevertheless, no group is too small or large when you are in need of help or the desire to find strength through testimony or spiritual connection.

Approximately 40 people attended the three-year-anniversary celebration, comprising individuals from Immokalee, Big Cypress, Hollywood, Cape Coral and Fort Myers. Raynaldo and Norita Yzaguirre had prepared one of their famous barbecue buffets for the occasion, which preceded the scheduled meeting.

Joining hands in the circle, a spiritual connection opened the meeting. People from all walks of life and age groups shared their testimony and offered support to each other. Addiction, relapse and recovery were the topics of discussion.

“It took a long time for me to get to this point,” Yzaguirre said. “However, by the grace of God and the love of my family, I am here today. Drugs weren’t my problem. I was the problem. By following the steps and doing service to others, I find the strength for survival. It is important to remember that the addict isn’t the only one in recovery. The whole family structure suffers when one of its own stumble and we need to be here to help them get back up again.”

“We have people here tonight ranging from 40 years in absentia to 12 days in treatment,” Prevention specialist Fred Mullins said. “Survival is finding meaning. Until we stop being a victim, we cannot recover. We must hold ourselves accountable and build a foundation with love and tolerance. The heat from this roaring campfire is nothing in comparison to the bright flame fueled by powerful testimony.”

The group surprised Yzaguirre with a celebratory cake and huge card signed by everyone in appreciation for his efforts.

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