Recovery Activists Honored at Stellar Event

By Chrisanne Grise 07/02/12

A high-powered benefit hosted in Washington, DC carries a resounding message of hope.

A night to remember. Photo via

Four activists and one grassroots community organization have been deservedly honored for advocating for the rights of people who are in recovery—or seeking recovery—from addiction. The America Honors Recovery ceremony was co-hosted by Hazelden's Center for Public Advocacy and Faces & Voices of Recovery last week—and The Fix was an event sponsor. A night full of inspiration and discussion also featured plenty of laughter. "It was a rededication and a recommitment for those of us who are in the community to continue to spread the message of hope," Laurie Dhue tells The Fix—she's a broadcaster, recovery advocate, Host Committee member, and Hazelden spokesperson, and she's been in recovery herself for over five years. "I think these kinds of events are a call to action for all of us to redouble our efforts."

Emmy-award winning reporter and anchor Pat O’Brien made a self-deprecating speech about his public breakdown that had the crowd laughing hard, while making a serious point. He focused on the idea that addiction doesn't discriminate—and that recovery shouldn't, either. "I have fallen in love with recovery," he told the audience, encouraging them to share their stories.

Those honored included: Rev. Dr. Robert Gilmore, Sr., founder of Real Urban Ministry and author of A True Story: Hope After Dope, From A Drug Addict To A Doctor; Walter Ginter, project director of the Medication-Assisted Recovery Services (MARS) Project and leading face and voice of medication-assisted treatment and recovery; Rosemary Tisch, for her work with Celebrating Families!, an evidence-based, multi-family skill-building recovery curriculum from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics; Jeff Blodgett, Project Coordinator of the Alliance Project, who helped launch Faces & Voices of Recovery; and Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR), which organizes people in recovery and educates policy-makers and the general public in Massachusetts. The awards are named for three trailblazers who dedicated their lives to addiction recovery: Johnson Institute founder Dr. Vernon E. Johnson, and advocates Joel Hernandez and Lisa Mojer-Torres.

Congressman Patrick Kennedy, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow, and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy deputy director of state, local and tribal affairs Benjamin Tucker were among some high-powered attendees. “In recovery, we say 'We can do together what we cannot do apart,'" Laurie Dhue tells us. "At an event like this, we all come together to demonstrate what we’ve already accomplished and to set goals for what we can accomplish in the future. It takes time, it takes energy, it takes money, it takes awareness—and I think this event was the perfect way to address those things.”

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices,,, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.