Monday, August 24, 2009

Do The Right Thing.

Acceptance and Commitment TherapyImage by Leonard John Matthews via Flickr

Sometimes, you just have to do what's right.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine, Stacey Gill, approached me with an idea for a group for kids from families with substance abuse issues. I was skeptical at first, but eventually realized the importance of doing something to help some kids before they got into trouble.

Also, as anyone who knows Stacey would agree, she can be very persistent.

Anyway, with the help of a grant through the Healthy Communities Initiative and the County Office of Behavioral Health, we got this little group off the ground, and for over a year some kids were able to come to a safe place to talk about whatever was on their minds without fear of retribution or resentment. They laughed, cried, played games, learned meditation and stress management techniques, and got a snack. They learned about addiction, family roles, skills to help survive in an addicted family. It became a very rewarding group to do.

Until I got the news last week that because of the budget crisis in Pennsylvania, no one knew when or if the grant would be renewed.

Now, I know that there are more inportant cutbacks and shutoffs than Stacey and my little group. I have talked to out of work fathers and mothers whose unemployment has been held up, families who are waiting for some relief in the areas of health care and fearful of cuts in school programs and vital public services like fire departments and police stations.

Against that backdrop, how important can one little group for Children of Substance Abusing Families be?

Well, considering that kids from families with drug and alcohol problems are more likely to become addicts themselves, to get arrested, to have unplanned pregnancies, to contract STD's, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and the variety of illnesses related to cigarette smoking, not to mention the fact that their kids are at higher risk of addiction and alcoholism, maybe more important than one would think.

At any rate, Stacey and I have decided that it's too important to shut down. So, we aren't shutting it down.

Grant or no grant, funding or no funding, this group is going to continue. Every Thursday, 4:00 to 5:30 PM, Stacey and I will be doing the group at Ken Williams' Recovery, 300 W. State St., Media PA 19063.

We won't charge for it, and we won't get paid. It's not that we don't care about that, neither of us are independently wealthy, but as we are faced with hard choices these days, sometimes the choice is, simply, to do the right thing. And the right thing is to stand by our words. We told these kids from families of chaos that we would be there for them, so there we will be.

And the snacks are on us.

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