‘There is hope’: Recovery for Life event to take place at Central Park

Published 3:48 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Independent Management Services wants those struggling with addiction to know they are not alone.

To get that message across to the community, they’re having a Recovery for Live event Sept. 30 at Central Park —  the first ever.

“This is important as September is recovery month nationwide,” said Kay Drenth-Johannsen, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. “I felt it was important that the community comes together to see what services are available for people that are struggling, not only with addiction but also with mental health.”

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The event will have food vendors, and she described it as casual and laid-back. Besides Independent Management Services, Peer Recovery Specialists, Freeborn County Department of Human Services, Fountain Centers and area churches First Presbyterian and Hope will be on hand.

“Addiction and recovery affects everyone,” she said. “It’s like you drop the rock in the lake and you watch the ripples.”

There will also be information on finding services.

“This is for everyone,” she said. “For people that are struggling, for people that are in recovery, for families of those that have loved ones that are struggling and in recovery and for those who just want to learn more about what recovery is, what addiction is and where to go for help.”

Games will also be provided for children, and there will be speakers, including Manny Velez.

“Our city is not getting better with these substances, whether it’s alcohol, whether it’s addictions, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s a shopping addiction, eating, whatever the addictions, our city is getting worse,” Velez said.

He’s also seeing teenagers dealing with substance issues.

“What prompted this was because … there is a need in our city,” he said, with Drenth-Johannsen adding doing this would help people without any sort of stigma attached.

And while Velez admitted there was darkness, there was a solution and hope.

Velez had struggled with methamphetamine since 2014, and admitted he didn’t think it would be a problem the first time he used it.

But using led him to having emotional, mental, family, community and legal issues.

“I ended up losing myself, losing my identity and causing so much pain not only to myself but to my family, but as well to my community,” he said.

Sometime between 2016 and 2017, during a time where Velez said he felt hopeless, he decided he wanted to find a purpose in life. Now he sees working with Independent Management Services as his way of giving back.

“I want to be that walking example,” he said.

Currently, he has been addiction-free for seven months.

Above all, Drenth-Johannsen wants people to find hope and see that recovery is possible.

“It’s not ‘I’m done, I can never get out of this,’” she said.  “You can, but you need to know where to go, and that’s what this event is about.”

Besides her work helping people, Drenth-Johannsen does chemical-health assessments.

“I want [people] to know — the people that are struggling, both families and those that are struggling with addiction — to know that there is hope and you can change your life around,” Drenth-Johannsen said. “… That’s where these services come into help.“

The center first opened in Austin in the 1990s and deals with an assortment of issues, including alcohol, drug, mental health and trauma, among others. Seeing a need for local support, the organization decided to place another campus at 709 Algon St. four years ago.

“[Services] are needed everywhere for recovery and for mental health,” Drenth-Johannsen said. “We just needed another business in the community that people had the option of attending.”

And that is her hope for holding this: Educating people.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tents will be set up if it rains, and the event will happen rain or shine.

For anyone needing help, Independent Management Services can be reached at 507-396-4477.