Local Organization Lighting the Way Toward Addiction Recovery
It took Christina Scott-Smith some time, following her 21-year-old son Christopher “Critter” Scott-Smith's death as a result of an overdose in 2014, to move through the shock and profound grief toward a call to action.
In early 2015, she says, one evening she was sitting with friends discussing the growing opioid epidemic in America, which could not have hit closer to home than it did. "We decided we wanted to do something to help the addiction recovery community, so we began a non-profit."
Critter's Crusade was born out of that conversation with friends, and through a number of events, programs, and community gatherings in the years since has solidified its mission to raise awareness about addiction, to reduce the social stigma often associated with those who struggle with it, and to directly help people in recovery as well as other organizations who offer assistance.
Among these opportunities, Critter's Crusade has partnered with the Upper Valley Aquatic Center on a fitness program for those in recovery, offering eight weeks of personal training sessions and a discounted membership for completing the program. Exercise has been shown to rebuild both physical and mental stamina in the face of addiction, and so far UVAC has welcomed 18 program participants.
To cover the costs of their gym membership, Scott-Smith and her team created the Conquering Addiction Fitness Fund, and the 4th annual Conquering Addiction 5K run, on September 29 in White River Junction, is the community's chance to support Critter's Crusade and the important work they're doing.
If you're interested in joining the race, including your shot at some fun raffle prizes, register here.
Sooner than that, though, next Friday, August 31, 6pm at Lyman Point Park in White River Junction, Critter's Crusade will join the 3rd annual Overdose Awareness Day Candlelight Vigil, organized by several Upper Valley individuals and organizatins, inviting everyone to a supportive gathering to share stories and poems of recovery and to reflect on loved ones lost to addiction. Several organizations in the addiction recovery community will have tables, and training in narcan, the opiate antidote, will be available.
Scheduled speakers at the vigil include Hartford Police Chief Phil Kasten and a group of people with the Turning Point Network offering up a shared story of recovery, Scott-Smith says.
"And right around 7:30, when it gets dark," she adds. "we'll begin the candle-lighting."
As part of this solemn demonstration of unity, support, and holding in memory, special candles will be lit and names called out of the 185 people with connections to the Upper Valley who died of an overdose in recent years.
Scott-Smith says one major goal of the candlelight vigil is to reduce the stigma that seems to persist against people battling addiction. "It still feels so rampant and cruel," she says, "and my hope is that there are people at the vigil who might think it could never happen to them, and to give them a chance to see that these really are everyday people who need their community."