CLEWISTON — People from around the country attended a non-exclusive gathering to share their experiences, strength and hope.
Hosted by Seminoles in Recovery, the fourth annual Native American Recovery Convention was held at the John B. Boy Auditorium in Clewiston from March 1-4.
With speakers from different reservations, as well as from different states, attendees gained a lot from the personal stories shared throughout the convention.
“I could relate to the guy,” said attendee Rocky C., of Okeechobee, after listening to Greg S. speak on Friday morning. “We all have a common bond.”
Listening to the speakers offers a source of inspiration for participants.
“It’s an enhancement to my recovery,” said Rocky, who has attended countless conventions religiously since 1986.
Rocky enjoys meeting new people, as well as reconnecting with his old friends. His best advice to others who struggle is to attend conventions and meetings for support.
The recent recovery convention was highly attended, and program coordinators couldn’t have been more pleased.
“I’m very happy with the way (the convention) is going,” said Helene Buster, the Tribe’s Family Services director and an officer of Seminoles in Recovery. “Last night we had 63 people here, which is fantastic for a Thursday night.”
The convention started as an idea among the Tribe’s Family Services. Since then, it was picked up by Seminoles in Recovery and has become an annual gathering open to people within and outside the Tribe.
Angie T., who attended the convention for the second year, said, “[Seminoles in Recovery] is a big help. [The convention] gives me a place to go and see other people that are in recovery.”
These events strive to do just that – to show that no one has to travel the road alone.
“Whether it’s alcohol, drugs or gambling, any addiction that an individual comes across and has a problem with, the Tribe is ready, able and willing to assist,” said Danny T., a member of Seminoles in Recovery. “Anybody that’s wanting to recover, we’re here to help.”
Many agree that it’s rough returning to functioning society, especially with finding employment. Employers aren’t extremely excited about hiring someone with a criminal background, but a program formed by the Seminole Tribe helps Tribal members reach their full potential.
The We Do Recover program, based in Hollywood, employs Tribal members in recovery while allowing them to attend recovery meetings and events. The Tribe’s adult educational administrator Marie Dufour said the program would like to expand to other reservations.