Health & Education
Sobriety Dinners mark 10-year anniversary
The Tribe’s Post Treatment Program celebrated reaching the 10-year mark as a Tribal program with its monthly Sobriety Dinner held on Thursday, June 30, at the Tribal Community Center.
Post Treatment Counselor Chris Holliday, who acted as the host, said the dinners are held the third Thursday of every month and everyone is welcome to attend. He said they have had as few as 35 people at dinner and as many as 150 people on occasion. On this night, they served dinner to 145 people.
Tribal Council member Tonya Gleason-Shepek attended as did Tribal General Manager Dave Fullerton and former Tribal Council members and Tribal Elders Kathryn Harrison and Ed Larsen.
Holliday said people from Grand Ronde, Willamina, Sheridan, Salem and Portland also attended.
“It’s an exciting day,” said Holliday. “We have anticipated it for the last four or five months. We’re here rain or shine. I think we have been pretty successful.”
Chinuk Immersion Apprentice Santiago Antanacio was joined by Kim Contreras, Kalene Contreras, Youth Prevention Supervisor Lisa Leno, Youth Programs Assistant Shannon Stanton and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Specialist Cristina Lara for a welcoming drum song.
Holliday offered the invocation.
“Thank you for being here; thank you for being part of this event,” said Holliday. “Without you we wouldn’t be here. It’s really nice that we have grown to this number. In recovery we only have just today.
“I want to acknowledge those who have been with these dinners since they started and I want to recognize the staff. The staff always comes through”
“In the 10 years we have experienced a consistent turnout of people supporting each other,” said Holliday in an e-mail the day after the dinner. “It has been a solid 10 years, and that is possible with the help of many behind-the-scenes people.”
Holliday acknowledged Tribal Elders, Tribal Council, Fullerton, Chemical Dependency Counselor Joe Martineau and many others.
Holliday credited Martineau with starting the sobriety dinners back when the program started. Martineau now works in the Tribe’s Behavioral Health program at the Health & Wellness Center.
Fullerton said the dinner made him think of two late Tribal Elders – Tom Bean and Charlie Haller.
“They held so many meetings for years,” Fullerton said. “They held AA meetings even if there was only one person.”
Fullerton said Holliday and Martineau were honored for their years of service when they received Tribal Pendleton blankets from those gathered. Another blanket that was donated by Tribal Council also was raffled off.
“You have a pretty amazing group of people that are pretty dependent on that support. I think it was great,” said Fullerton of the evening. “That support there, they always know they can come back to it. They have that mainstay. Every third Thursday of the month they can go in and be supported through their sobriety and through their recovery.
“I think it is a good thing to see 145 people turn out. It just shows you how important it is and how much they count on that.”
Tribal Elder Victor Cureton raised his hand when Holliday asked who had reached 10 years or more in sobriety.
“It’s been more like 22 years now for me and it means quite a bit,” said Cureton. “It was a life of alcohol and I fought it (getting sober) tooth and nail. When I get in a group of people like this and I see what it has done for them, it actually lifts me up and keeps me encouraged for the things I look forward to on a day-to-day basis.”
Cureton shared that he didn’t believe alcohol was going to be a big problem when he first started drinking.
“In the beginning, I didn’t think it was all that bad,” said Cureton. “But then I got to the point it actually got ahold of me. I got so bad it finally did affect my job. By that time I needed help and I found it. Actually I found it through the Lord.”
Cureton said he attends the meetings regularly because he wants to encourage people and to let them know there is help, too.
“Meetings like this one really mean a lot to me because it is helping our community,” said Cureton. “There are people here that years ago were really desperate for help and here they are finally finding it. At meetings like this one you see smiles and you see hope, and it makes a difference.”