To The Daily Sun,
I serve as chair of Stand up Laconia and am writing on behalf of myself and the members of the executive committee of Stand up Laconia to express our pleasure in hearing Senator Jeanie Forrester's withdrawal of the recent proposal to build a treatment and recovery center at the site of the former Laconia State School. We would also like to thank Sen. Andrew Hosmer for being a dissenting vote last week and working on this issue diligently over the past few days.
We absolutely concur that local community treatment centers and recovery programming is crucial for the continuum of care for substance misuse treatment. To that end, there is already amazing work going in this community. Many of our SUL coalition members, including some of our executive committee members, are currently working with other local stakeholders on a variety of programs and increasing resources to offer to the people of the Lakes Region. These include Celebrate Recovery, Navigating Recovery of The Lakes Region,The Riverbank House, and the new Community Corrections Center that will soon be built, to name just a few. However, treatment is but one part of the solution and, to create a large treatment facility in Laconia without addressing the other parts of the substance abuse solution is not going to yield positive results for Laconia.
I would welcome Sen. Forrester to attend one of our SUL meetings or reach out to other's in the community who deal with the substance misuse issue on a daily basis to hear what the needs of this community really are and in what ways we could greatly benefit from our legislators assistance in battling this issue.. If you were to ask members of SUL what our vision is for the state school property, it would be to support our mission to decrease substance misuse in our community by effectively and compassionately advocating not just for treatment, but also for prevention, intervention and recovery. The opportunities for prevention, intervention and recovery work at the state school property are endless. It could provide prevention and recovery activities such as kayaking, swimming, fishing, walking trails, classes, crafts, a venue for our local small businesses to sell their products, possibly a local restaurant or inn to provide revenue to support the property.
The goal for our community should be to do our prevention, intervention and recovery work so well by providing meaningful, affordable and accessible activities and skill building that our need for treatment beds will significantly decline. Is this a pipe dream? Absolutely not! How do I know that? The energy and desire for change is present and growing in our community. SUL started five years ago with 15 of us sitting around a table. Initially, drawing community members to our coalition that were not involved in the area of substance misuse treatment was a challenge indeed. However, we believed there was a need in this community and we persisted, as did many other organizations and it is astounding the progress that has been made. The progress has been made because all sectors of our community, including parents, grandparents, law enforcement, schools, business community, faith community, legislators, health care providers, and others have come together, cared about the issue and said "enough is enough". The community has spoken and it does not want more lives lost to death or the unrelenting hold drugs can have on a person and their families.
It is time to again Stand Up Laconia. The state school property is the gem of Laconia and whatever vision unfolds on that landscape should be decided upon thoughtfully by the people of Laconia for the benefit of the people of Laconia.
Clare Persson, Chair
Stand Up Laconia
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