By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 7/19/2018
Posted: 9/15/2007
Topics/Keywords: #JenniferAnnCilwaRizzo #Recovery #SubstanceAbuse Page Views: 3652
All the photos from 2007's WINR Recovery Walk.

This past Saturday, the substance abuse recovery home at which my daughter, Jenny, is program manager, sponsored a Recovery Walk down Mesa's Center Street, accompanied by food, games, an inflatable bouncing thing and piņatas for the kids. Something that might be viewed as a somber and solemn occasion was instead a lighthearted and joyous one, thanks in part to Jenny's contribution to putting it on.

September is National Recovery Month.

WINR's Recovery Walk was just one of thousands of similar celebrations staged across the country. One would have to be living in a cave not to know that substance abuse issues—alcoholism, drug addictions, prescription abuse and the like—are rampant in our society. Recovery is the flip side of those issues. And, as those in recovery know, a person has to hit absolute rock bottom, and know that they've hit rock bottom, before he or she will be ready to do the soul-searching and personal rebuilding that it takes to leave the addictions behind and start down the road to recovery. That road, then, while it is rocky and has an inauspicious gate, is nonetheless a path of joy.

Karen and Jenny and the three little boys.

Some 300 people showed up in addition to the ladies of WINR, mostly the parents and families of residents, a number of graduates, and a few well-wishers. Jenny's family was in attendance: her son Zachary, her siblings Karen and John, John's girlfriend Rachel, her mother Mary, and of course Michael and I. In addition, Zach brought his two best friends, Chris and Lane.

The WINR's women did everything to make the event happen, including cook.

WINR was able to raise about $5000, which will go to improving the facility and its outreach. WINR is basically self-supporting, but part of that is dependence on donations and fund-raising activities such as this, as well as grants and the fees the women pay towards their room and board and counseling. Jenny amazingly managed to divide her time between enjoying the event for her family, and helping to run it.

Michael: A satisfied customer.

One issue arose when the grills cooking hot dogs and hamburgers, located on the porch of one of the houses, kept setting off the fire alarm. They had to be moved to the space between two of the buildings, where they continue to churn out fun food for a donation of $2 each (including a bag of chips!).I had a hamburger and a hot dog. Michael had two hamburgers and a hot dog.

Mary enjoys her fun food at a table.

The purpose of the event was, of course, the Recovery Walk, a chance for the women and their supporters to make theirpresence known to the public in numbers and with banners and signs. Probably most people caught in the throes of addition aren't even aware that recovery is possible. The media makes a big issue over addiction, but rarely points out the thousands of recovery centers around the country that actually succeed in helping addicts establish new, substance-free lives. If events like this can help educate even a few people to the possibility of recovery, they are well worth the time.

The walkers get in line for their walk.

As the walkers organized, so did huge clouds overhead—and all around us. We could see sheets of rain falling from them on all sides, and the sky above looked like it was going to let loose at any time. Indeed, the wind began to pick up at one point. But somehow we were spared getting wet. Rain fell everywhere but a three-mile radius around the WINR compound.

The walkers' triumphant return. Jenny Cilwa: You are truly a human sparkler!

They walked from the compound on Center near 8th Place all the way to Main and back, a distance of about 1.6 miles. When they returned (I didn't walk; I supported them with my camera!) Patty Henderson, owner and operator of WINR, presented some of the most helpful friends of the organization with plaques. Jenny got one touting her virtues as a "human sparkler".

After speeches and awards were given, and the sun had set, a couple of piņatas were erected. Zach got in line to swat at the thing, but curiously his friends Chris and Lane did not, though they hovered nearby. I wondered about this, but when the piņata was smashed open, their strategy became clear. Chris and Lane dove at the center of the pile of candy, leaving a gap between them that Zachary quickly filled. When they arouse, they had managed to capture a prodigious amount of candy each, stored safely in their shirts.

Zach prepares to whack the piņata.

After the event was over and Jenny had seen to the return of the grounds to normal, we all went to Denny's for another dinner (after the hamburgers and hot dogs). Well, it being Saturday night, at least the kids ate for free!