Recovery community effort gains momentum

7 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — A grassroots effort to strengthen the ‘Recovery Community’ in Caribou is well underway and is gaining momentum.  

On May 11 more than 100 people attended a community meeting at the Caribou

Performing Arts Center to hear from individuals in recovery and to initiate a planning process to increase support for those seeking recovery.  

Bill Flagg, director of community relations and development at Cary Medical Center, said he has been overwhelmed by the response.

“The community meeting was very emotional and generated some great dialogue,” said Flagg, who has been attending weekly follow-up meetings at Cary.  “The courage and passion of those individuals who are in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction has been just so impressive.  Because of their response we are highly motivated to make something happen.”

The most recent meeting was held on Wednesday, May 31, at the hospital.  Deb Gray, owner of Life by Design, conducted an exercise to illustrate the ‘continuum of care’ cycle from prevention through recovery.  Gray noted the enthusiasm of the group and the importance of their engagement.

“It is so critical that members of the recovery community drive this process,” said Gray, who is part of the planning effort.  “They have been there, they know what resources need to be available and they speak with great credibility based on experience.”

During Wednesday’s meeting several key resources were identified as being available but others were not.  Flagg said it is time for The County to establish the same level of resources that are available in southern Maine.

“The scope of the problem with substance abuse here in Aroostook County is such that we need to develop additional resources and make them available locally.  Families struggle to locate services and the cost of travel and time to go downstate is out of reach for many.  We are going to stay on this issue until we have established a more substantial recovery community right here, close to home,” he said.

Jan Jackson, who is coordinating the grassroots effort, said she was grateful for the support of those attending the weekly meetings.

“The energy we are generating through this process is amazing,” said Jackson, who is also an outreach worker for Cary’s Drug Free Communities Grant.  “To have such a turn out every week and people bringing more is just so rewarding.  It inspires us to keep this process moving.”

A key resource that is not currently available in Aroostook identified by the group is a recovery center. Over the next several weeks the group plans to research this issue and hopes to identify potential opportunities.   

Anyone is invited to participate in the planning meetings, which are held every Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Chan Center.  For more information on the project call Flagg at 498-1376 or email