Out & About: Hartford Community Coalition hosts sober New Years


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 12-24-2023 1:19 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — While many holidays can be challenging for those in recovery, perhaps none is more challenging than New Year’s Eve — where many events feature alcohol.

That’s why events such as the annual Alcoholics Anonymous’ “Alcathon” of support group meetings and Upper Valley Turning Point’s New Years Eve celebration are so important.

“Really, the thought behind it is if you’re in recovery and you’re alone, that can be a reason to feel like you need to drink or something,” Sheila Young, executive director of Second Wind Foundation, a nonprofit organization which runs the recovery center Upper Valley Turning Point. “We never want anyone to be alone, ever.”

This will be the third year Turning Point will be the site of the event, which will take place from 9 p.m. Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1. In 2021, a separate group held the gathering at the White River Junction nonprofit organization located at 200 Olcott Drive, and it proved popular.

“Last year, we picked it up as an organization and have decided to continue that,” Young said about the decision to make it a Turning Point-sponsored event. Last year, around 50 people attended the family-friendly gathering, which includes a pool tournament, music, a potluck and karaoke. “It’s just a place to be with others and have a good time.”

About a 10-minute drive away, Vermont AA District 5 will host an Alcathon at the Listen Center at 42 Maple Street in White River Junction. The center will be open from 4 to 11:45 p.m. Dec. 31, with AA meetings starting at 6 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 1, with meetings starting at 10 a.m. There will be a potluck at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and another potluck at 9 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

The Hartford Community Coalition is one of the organizations helping to promote the Alcathon. The event fits in with the nonprofit organization’s mission to reduce youth substance use and deaths by suicide, said Executive Director Emily Musty Zanleoni.

“Given that, we support any event and space that is recovery-friendly; as our youth become adults, they still need to know there are safe and sober places to have fun,” Zanleoni wrote in an email. “And for some, the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ is not the most wonderful, and opening spaces that are drug- and alcohol-free during this high substance use time is imperative for those trying to stay on a sober path.”

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Police seek assistance in locating missing Dartmouth student
City cites Claremont property owner over demolition of building
Editorial: Dartmouth lets protesters know where they stand
DHMC union organizers say they have enough signatures to force vote
New Canaan Elementary School principal hire backs out
A Life: Elaine Chase ‘was a very generous person’

Some people in recovery may feel comfortable attending events where substances are present, depending on what the event has to offer, Young said.

“... (T)here are people who love to dance who go to a concert and it may not be substance-free, but people get comfortable being around substances if they have a purpose for being at an event,” Young said.

“We’re not limited. It’s a personal decision: If there is alcohol or other substances involved, then you have to think about where I’m at in my recovery. ‘Do I have a reason to be there, and will I be safe at this point in time?’ ”

For more information about AA and NA meetings in the area, visit gmana.org, uppervalleyaa.com and uvaa.info. To learn more about Turning Point’s programs and meetings, visit uppervalleyturningpoint.org or call 802-295-5206. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.