PARKERSBURG - The Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home held a sober New Year's Eve party on Tuesday night at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Charles Street in Parkersburg.
More than 100 people attended the 2013 New Year's Eve party, with the admission fee for the evening's festivities being a can of food for local food banks.
This was the party's sixth year, and past events have seen more than 200 people present, said Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home executive director Patrice Pooler.
Photo by Gretchen Richards
Patrice Pooler, right, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home, and Doug Hess, left, a board member for the program, adjust the party decorations at the start of the sober New Year’s Eve party Tuesday night.
The sober New Year's Eve party was available as an alcohol- and drug-free party to celebrate the new year for people who are participating in the sobriety programs of the Fellowship Home, said Pooler. The party was designed to show the participants that they can ring in the new year and still have fun without needing to resort to drinking or using drugs, she said.
The Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home is a program that offers a safe place to recover for anyone with a sincere desire to remain sober and overcome their addictions. The program has five houses around the Mid-Ohio Valley where those recovering from addictions can live in a safe, friendly, monitored environment.
Party-goers for Tuesday's event were treated to a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. From 7-9 p.m., those present shared stories of their substance abuse and recovery. At 9 p.m., music and dancing began and ran until midnight with a balloon drop to celebrate the new year, said Pooler.
Throughout the evening, participants and alumni of the Fellowship Home program shared stories. Karaoke was available, and sparkling grape juice was used to ring in the new year.
"For many of our first-year residents, this party will be the first New Year's Eve, and their first karaoke experience, that they will be able to remember clearly the next day," said Doug Hess, secretary for the board of directors with the Fellowship Home, who was serving as DJ for the evening.
The evening was scheduled to end with a gratitude circle, said Pooler. The gratitude circle is a tradition at the sober New Year's Eve party, when after midnight, all party-goers gathered in a circle and expressed one thing they were grateful for, she said.
"Many of our recovery residents nearly died before they joined our program," said Pooler. "During the gratitude circle every year, we hear people saying they are thankful just to alive," she said.
The sober party began several years ago after Pooler decided that those recovering from addictions deserved a chance to celebrate the New Year without having to be around the alcohol and drug use that other parties might feature.
"It seems like everyone celebrates the New Year with alcohol of some kind, which can be a terrible temptation to those who are recovering from substance abuse," said Pooler. "They deserve to have a place where they can ring in the New Year without those temptations, as well a chance to see that you don't need alcohol or drugs in order to have a really good time."
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church is located at 903 Charles St and has hosted the drug- and alcohol-free New Year's Eve party for the Fellowship Home for several years now, said the Rev. Marjorie S. Bevans.
"We are just down the street from (one of their homes), and we know that providing a safe drug- and alcohol-free environment for people to hold this celebration in is exactly what they need," said Bevans.
People from every part of the Fellowship Home's 12-step sobriety programs attended the party. The program promises anonymity to everyone who takes part in their program, said Pooler.
Eddie, 34, has been part of the Fellowship Home program since August. The program has helped him remain sober, find employment and reconnect with his family, he said.
"With the Fellowship Program's help, I've managed to get sober," said Eddie. "It is wonderful start the New Year clean and sober for once, and to have all of these friends surrounding me and helping me," he said.
Dave, 50, from California, had been trying to get sober since 1988. He succeeded with the Fellowship Program's help. He has been living on his own for five months. He has stable employment and owns a vehicle. He was also happy to be celebrating New Year's Eve surrounded by friends.
"The Fellowship Home is an amazing place," said Dave. "I decided to take the bull by the horns and take control of my life, and through their program, I did. I can never repay the Fellowship Home for what they have done for me."
Joy, 47, has completed the Fellowship Home program, and was happy to volunteer her services at the party.
"This program saved my life," Joy said. "When I came here, I had no self esteem, I owned nothing. The woman who I was, was lost to alcohol. The Fellowship Home has given me the ability to move through many hard times in my life, even the anniversary of the death of my son, and to do it sober."
The Fellowship Home offers help and hope to anyone suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Anyone who needs help is invited to call 304-485-3341 for more information.