A crowd of some 200 people packed the Bucks County Courthouse on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 when NCADD's Affiliate, The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc., and PRO-ACT (Pennsylvania Recovery Organization–Achieving Community Together, a program of the Council), dedicated its annual "Tree of Hope."
Scores of participants hung personalized ornaments on the 20-foot-tall Norway spruce, remembering those who have lost their lives to addiction, honoring those who help others overcome the disease, and celebrating their own or a loved one's recovery.
Among the evening's highlights was a presentation of the Tom Nelson Volunteer of the Year Award recognizing an outstanding PRO-ACT volunteer. Allen McQuarrie, chairman of the Bucks County PRO-ACT chapter, presented the award to this year's winner, Alfred Pelham, PhD, in recognition of his pioneering efforts behind PRO-ACT's Gateway to Work for Veterans program.
Pelham, a former Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive and currently professor of Management and Marketing at The College of New Jersey, served in Vietnam as an Army Ranger lieutenant. A PRO-ACT volunteer since 2000, he has recruited others with a similar military background and civilian successes to mentor other veterans. The Gateway to Work for Veterans program helps servicemen and women navigate the transition from military to civilian employment and careers.
The program is designed to complement other efforts to help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injury, both of which can lead to self-medication and addiction.
In addition to the volunteer award and tree dedication, the 2012 "Tree of Hope" program featured a welcome from William Wiegman, president of The Council's board of directors; a proclamation by Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia; and a recognition of institutions and individuals supporting recovery by Beverly Haberle, Executive Director of The Council and PRO-ACT project director.
Roland Lamb, director of the Office of Addiction Services of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, was honored as a "ray of hope" during the dedication. Lamb also led the blessing of the tree.
The all-male, Bucks County's Unique a capella chorus, Cordus Mundi, performed.
Proceeds from the sale of ornaments at the "Tree of Hope" benefit PRO-ACT's recovery support services for individuals and families and programs in PRO-ACT's Recovery Community Centers, which help people access or sustain long-term recovery.
The "Tree of Hope" has been displayed in the Bucks County Courthouse each year since 1999. It began as a way to remember those who were lost to addiction, recognize those who mentor others through the recovery process, and to celebrate long-term recovery. The concept has since been adopted in communities across the state and beyond. It has been recognized as a "stigma buster" by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
For more information contact:
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.
Bailiwick Office Campus Unit 12 & 33
252 West Swamp Rd. Doylestown, PA 18901