Last night was the 21st annual Consumer and Family Forum. This year’s forum was titled “The Many Faces of Recovery: Creative Expressions.” The evening was held at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM. The night started with some networking and a light lunch. Over a dozen behavioral health resources were stationed throughout the event room answering questions, taking referrals, and handing out information to attendees. Since the theme of the evening was “Creative Expressions,” there were displays of art made by consumers on display throughout the event.
Jennifer Carpinteri, the Director of the Morris County Department of Human Services kicked off the event by welcoming everyone in and introducing the agenda. We also heard from Kathy DeFillippo, Freeholder Director, and Barbara Ward, Chair of the Mental Health Substance Abuse Advisory Board. Special recognition awards were distributed to two members of the MHSAAB as a thank you for their dedicated years of service.
Peter Basto took over and gave a speech regarding the role of creativity in recovery as well as how recovery takes a different form for every person. Two women stood up and shared their personal stories of recovery in a brave moment of peer connection with the audience. Hearing the struggles these women not only endured, but overcame was moving and empowering. What came next was a nice transition from the serious to a more fun mood; Kathy Moser lead the group in song, even inviting attendees on stage to help her sing a song about accepting yourself and showing the world who you really are.
The evening ended with the open forum discussion, where people were invited to share what resources in the county have been helpful, what obstacles there have been to services, and what’s missing in the community. Many people spoke up thanking agencies personally for what they have done for their recovery. Other people discussed some of the struggles at qualifying or transporting themselves to services. It was an engaging discussion where everything was put out on the table for representatives from individual agencies and the county to hear. Laurie Becker, the Mental Health Administrator for Morris County closed the evening out by thanking everyone for coming and for announcing that the summary of needs will be going out as soon as it’s completed.