BRATTLEBORO — Turning Point of Windham County’s Run for Recovery 5K is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic looming in the background.
“This year’s different because of COVID and the lack of supports that people struggling with addiction have had and then the increase in use and abuse really because of being stuck at home, because of being depressed, because of whatever reasons,” said Olivia Jean DeWolfe, administrative and development coordinator at Turning Point of Windham County. “There’s a surge in alcohol use.”
The fourth annual race on Oct. 31 begins and ends at 100 Flat St. in the New England Youth Theatre parking lot in downtown Brattleboro. Costumes are encouraged.
On-site registration opens at 9 a.m. and the race starts at 10 a.m. To register beforehand, visit runsignup.com/Race/VT/Brattleboro/turningpointwindhamcountyrunforrecovery.
Registration costs $20 and comes with a Run for Recovery t-shirt to honor the event. Once materials are covered and the company hired to time the run is paid, any leftover funds will go to support Turning Point of Windham County’s ability to provide services.
Run for Recovery draws a combination of runners from the region who look for races and community members who want to support Turning Point, DeWolfe said.
“Some people come and hang out,” she said. “We hope that people do.”
The event is meant to raise awareness about recovery, addiction and Turning Point.
“It’s just an opportunity to spread the word about services we have that people don’t know about,” DeWolfe said, and it helps people recognize the stigma about substance use that still exists.
Calling exercise “a common healthy coping skill,” DeWolfe said it has helped people she knows in recovery by providing a healthier habit.
Because of COVID, Turning Point limited its drop-in hours. The focus has been more on services and outreach.
The center still runs recovery meetings. And it also offers trainings for recovery coaching, self care and compassion fatigue.
DeWolfe said Turning Point has struggled to rebuild its staff, volunteer team and participants since the pandemic.
“People have just stopped coming to meetings,” she said. “Some people did online meetings and that’s not satisfying for people and it was reflected in the community. There were more people becoming addicted during the pandemic than there had ever been, opioids and alcohol, people just coping with substance abuse. In Brattleboro, it’s a crisis. Young people die all the time. It feels like weekly. It’s just very tragic and it seems avoidable.”
Turning Point is in contact with local businesses that have sponsored the race in the past. Last year, the event did not have prizes due to COVID-19.
DeWolfe said organizers didn’t want to request anything if they didn’t have to during the stressful time. But now, businesses are being asked to sponsor or donate volunteer time, gift certificates, gift cards or cash.
“In that sense, we are spreading the word that way,” DeWolfe said. “We are reaching a lot of people and making them aware of the event and therefore recovery.”
Last year, 38 people registered for the run online. Altogether, about 50 people ran or walked in the event.