The Addict’s Mom Lights Beacons Of Recovery Awareness In The White House And Nationwide

By John Lavitt 09/30/16

In honor of National Recovery month, TAM members hosted over 150 Lights of Hope events nationwide to raise awareness.

The Addict’s Mom Lights Beacons Of Recovery Awareness In The White House And Nationwide
Kelli Pierson Presenting The TAM Qulit At The Fed Up Rally In Washington Photo by Trip Pierson

From the West Wing of the White House to communities across the country, members of The Addict’s Mom (TAM) lit beacons of awareness to mark the passing of National Recovery Month. On Sunday, Sept. 18, as over 100 TAM members attended the Fed Up Rally in Washington, D.C., TAM Executive Director Leisha Underwood and TAM Marketing Director Michelle Jaskulski met with Drug Czar Michael Botticelli, who called the meeting to listen firsthand to the voices of parents battling substance use disorders within their own families. 

Upon meeting with Director Botticelli at the White House, Underwood told The Fix how important the opportunity was to her. “Nobody is more determined or more affected by the disease of addiction than a mother," she said. "Nobody will ever fight harder to save a child. The societal stigma and misunderstanding experienced by mothers simply trying to save their children can be crippling.” 

Fighting to overcome the pain ripping apart their families, hundreds of moms brought the 2016 TAM quilt to the Fed Up Rally. Challenged on a daily basis by her youngest son’s addiction and representing TAM founder Barbara Theodosiou at the event, Kelli Pierson displayed the TAM quilt to a crowd of thousands on the main stage. Submitted by over 500 TAM members, the quilt is a varied composite of three different colored squares; red for a child currently in active addiction, white for a family member now in recovery, and black in memory of a loved one lost to this dreadful disease. Dedicated to Barbara in memory of her son, Daniel Montalbano, who lost his struggle with addiction, the TAM quilt is a symbol of honor, celebration, and poignant remembrance to those now gone.

In honor of September's National Recovery month, TAM members disseminated their message well beyond Washington by hosting over 150 Lights of Hope events nationwide. Held in homes, public parks, city and county offices and other public meeting places, the Lights of Hope events combined a walk to honor the memory of lost loved ones with a candle lighting ceremony to help raise awareness. Reflecting the TAM quilt, the candles lit were red, white and black to mark those in active addiction, those in recovery, and those tragically lost. An annual event put on by The Addict’s Mom, Lights of Hope continues to grow both in number and attendance each year.

A perfect example of the growth was an event in Frankfort, Kentucky, a state that has been hit hard by the national opioid epidemic. At the Lights of Hope event at the Kentucky State Capitol, TAM Member Laura Parrish, who lost her son Nick to the disease of addiction, ardently told the assembled crowd, “It’s okay to be in recovery and it’s okay to talk about these things… There is hope. If you have a friend or family member who is in active addiction, there’s help available and there’s hope. It’s okay to come out and say I need help, I can’t do this by myself. Because it’s not easy… I’m not going to be silent. I’m going to keep telling Nick’s story because I am the only voice that he has right now. I will tell his story to whoever will listen to it.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.