Making Recovery Fun: Addicted To Talent At The Hope Center
Nestled on the east side of Manchester is a fairly unassuming building that is anything but ordinary once you walk inside. The Hope Center is bright and lively, but it also brings a sense of calm upon entering.
The walls are covered with art - Keith Howard, the center's director, describes it best as “Hope is kind of like a community refrigerator.”
But, visual art is just one aspect of the community that Hope has created. “At times, this has been a ping pong center, other times chess, meditation center…”
In short, Hope is what the community makes it: “All we as a staff do is encourage it.”
Ten months ago, some members of the community turned the Hope Center into a performing arts venue with the beginning of the Addicted to Talent show. From singing to juggling, the stage was open for anyone who wanted to perform - and there was no question as to whether it was a success.
Karl, one of the founding members, recalls “Everyone loved it. It gave everyone something to do, that they knew they could go have fun without using drugs or alcohol and do it in a safe place, even showcase their talents. It just kind of grew from there. Snowballed a little bit.”
And snowballed it did - they quickly filed for non-profit status. This allows the show to more easily receive donations of food for the event and items to raffle off to raise money for future shows.
Jenni recalls “The thing that’s really cool is that this started with people in the community and it has just grown exponentially with people in the community so it’s addicts helping addicts. [...] It’s fun. It’s the 3 Fs - friends, family, and fellowship, and I think that’s something that’s really important.
They say the opposite of addiction is connection, and this gives our community the ability to come together in an event, once a month, and have a good time. It’s really important for people to know you can have fun in sobriety, it doesn’t just have to be this lame, glum life, and you can have a good time and you know make connections with one another and that’s really important.”
It’s not just a community staple, but an event that some sober houses consider to be incredibly valuable for people who are newly sober.
Sunday nights in many sober houses are generally reserved for house meetings - you can’t miss these meetings for anything, including work. But, more and more sober houses have been letting performers leave early so they can make it to the show in time.
In fact, “A lot of sober houses actually count it as a meeting as well. You have to get a certain amount of meetings for a sober house. […] fellowship is so important in the program and in recovery.”
Jenni, with the group’s agreement, shared that “I think it’s safe to say that Addicted to Talent, being a part of the Hope Center, [...] the meetings here, saved each and every one of our lives,” and helped those in recovery to separate their activities from including drugs and alcohol.
For musicians who have only experienced performing while using, “it’s the first time they play a show sober. It’s the first time they’re able to. [...] And just like seeing the light come on in their eyes in a different type of way because like, I can sit there and sit in a meeting and be like wow I really relate to all of this but like the light doesn’t come on until like you realize this is real life. My old life wasn’t the real life, this is real life, this is what I want to be.”
It’s clear that the fellowship and community are a strong focus of not just Addicted to Talent, but the entirety of the Hope Center: “You come and you see how pure it is and then you stay because of that.”
In fact, Keith invites the entirety of the Manchester community to experience the value of the Hope center: “Hope is a recovery community center with community being at in the middle so that anybody from the community is welcome to come on in, paint, play chess,…. You don’t have to be struggling with drugs or alcohol.”
The Hope Center is located at 293 Wilson Street, Manchester, NH 03103.
The next Addicted to Talent show is this Sunday, June 26 from 5 to 8 pm. All are welcome and invited.
Donations are always appreciated for the Addicted to Talent show. To donate food or equipment or to make monetary donations, please reach out to email@example.com.