By: Gregg Dowty, District 7780 Recovery Initiative Team, RC of Dover
“Wow!” “Amazing day!”  “Powerful leaders!” “Thank You, Rotary!” These are just a few of the comments made by attendees at the second annual District 7780 Recovery Conference held on September 21st in Portland. Rotarians, recovery specialists, journeyers and community leaders came together to shine light on recovery efforts in Maine and New Hampshire. Brad Paige, CEO of Kennebunk Savings; Stacey Chiocchio, Community Citizen Manager for Hypertherm Associates; and Michael Sauschuck, Maine Public Safety Commissioner gave keynotes addresses detailing the work of their companies and the State of Maine to reduce stigma, provide a path to recovery through work and housing opportunities, and support those on the road to recovery. 
Gordon Smith, Maine Director of Opioid Recovery and Karen Morton-Clark, New Hampshire Governor's Recovery Initiative, outlined the Recovery Friendly Workplace (RFW) initiatives in Maine and New Hampshire. New Hampshire has been a leader in this field and Maine has just launched its RFW program. Rotary District 7780 has been a promoter and advocate for recovery through District 7780 Recovery Initiative chaired by DGE Bob MacKenzie. Thirteen Rotary Clubs across our district supported this conference through sponsorships and it was attended by over two dozen Rotarians.
Perhaps the conference was best described by attendee Heidi Heyland, York Harbor Inn. "It was a moving experience for me. I think everyone has been impacted by a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker who has struggled with sobriety in some form, but hearing how we as employers can give hope to someone in recovery was really impactful."
Editor’s note:  Look for more updates from this committee in the months to come.  This is an important issue in our district as it is in the country.  As one of the 200 plus people who attended this conference, I have come to understand the need to reduce the stigma of addiction.  One of the ways to do that, mentioned over and over during the conference, is to tell your story.  It is a mental health issue which people cannot handle alone. CM