Every fall season brings with it the Portage Atlantic Recognition Ceremony, a very special event that is dear to the hearts of residents and their families, staff members, and friends of Portage. The annual ceremony recognises individuals who have successfully completed all five phases of the rehabilitation program at Cassidy Lake, as well as those who have lived free of drugs and alcohol for one year since finishing their program at Portage.
On September 19th, community members from throughout Atlantic Canada came together at Hampton High School in support of fifty young men and women at the 2010 Portage Atlantic Recognition Ceremony. Of the graduates being recognised, twenty were honoured for having lived the past year free of drugs and alcohol. A special address was given by New Brunswick’s Lieutenant Governor, Honourable Graydon Nicholas.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Sandra Van Westerneng, a mother of Portage Atlantic graduates, described how she came to terms with the fact that her two sons’ were addicted to drugs.
“Nothing could prepare me as a parent to deal with the suffering they would go through,” she said. “As a mother, you [worry] about common colds and the flu – not whether or not your son or daughter will grow up to be an addict. Watching this process is one of the more terrifying things a mother can endure.”
With her encouragement, Sandra’s sons eventually sought help at Portage Atlantic.
“With the excellent support from the Portage staff members and their peers in treatment, [my sons] finally started to work on themselves,” she shared. “Since completing the program at Portage, they have developed and increased their own sense of self-respect and pride, [and] the ripple effects are far-reaching into many aspects of their lives.”
The theme for this year’s ceremony was “Let Your Soul Shine,” and the energy in the auditorium was overwhelmingly positive. All present applauded the graduates for redirecting their lives from the isolating shadows of drug and alcohol addiction, to reconnect with their families and their communities.
Eight Portage Atlantic graduates were selected to receive bursaries from the Ron Evans Foundation and a second, anonymous donor. The purpose of these bursaries is to help graduates with their tuition expenses and other costs associated with enrollment in a postsecondary educational program.
Portage Atlantic wishes its graduates all the best with their plans for the future, as they step forward with new confidence and self-fulfillment.
Pictured above: Lieutenant-Governor Graydon Nicholas; graduates Erich and Katie; and Russell H.T. King, Portage Atlantic chairman, at the Portage Atlantic Recognition Day.