Recently, Kolmac Outpatient Recovery Centers proudly sponsored Forest of Hope (FOH) — an effort to raise awareness and combat the stigma of substance use disorders.
Approximately 600 people came together under the direction of lead artist Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen to paint their deeply personal stories of triumph over addiction on 52 trees in Oregon Ridge Park. So far they’ve raised more than $150,000 for The Nikki Perlow Foundation — an organization committed to giving people hope that recovery is possible.
According to their website, “The forest comes to life with amazing color as portions of trees are painted by those in recovery and their teams to mirror the beauty, strength, and fragility of individuals and their families who have suffered through addiction and are overcoming the disease. Going forward, Forest of Hope will expand and be replicated nationwide to become the world’s most unique, educational & powerful fundraising project ever undertaken to celebrate recovery and facilitate breaking down the stigma tied to drug & alcohol addiction.”
Stigmas surrounding substance use disorders are routinely imposed by society, communities, friends — and even family — and can stand as a tall and demoralizing hurdle for people who are struggling with addiction. Stigma seems to offer yet one more reason to stay stuck. But Forest of Hope offers one more reason to break free. The stories painted on these trees remind us that active addiction may be part of your story, but it’s not how the story has to end.
FOH also reminds us that recovery is not simply regaining what was lost. It’s about going further in life than you ever thought possible. Recovery can and should be an amazing journey of discovery, achievement, purpose, and meaning.
“My tree will be strong and alive with roots that are deep and long — much like my recovery is deep and strong and allows me to live beyond the constant sickness of addiction. To translate something so awful into something alive and beautiful will be a gift. My tree in the Forest of Hope will make my recovery real and tangible and known.” – David A. Sobriety Date 5/1/85
See a growing gallery of photos on the FOH Facebook Page.
Did you see Forest of Hope in the news? Check out this piece from WMAR ABC2: