For people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, the holidays can be especially hard. Loneliness, isolation from family and painful memories can sweep in and not only bring sadness, but also undermine even the most courageous attempts to live in sobriety.
That is why the Clean & Sober program is asking Book of Dreams readers for something simple and understandable a holiday party for its 64 residents and their families and friends.
The nonprofit program, in its 18th year, provides housing and 12-step recovery support for homeless people giving up their addictions.
In the past, Clean & Sober's holiday party has been an uplifting scene with food, Santa and about 200 people.
Every year, joyful reunions take place at the party, with recovering residents often able to reconnect with family from whom they have been estranged for years.
This year, the nonprofit's leaders made the difficult decision not to hold the party because donations were down and they couldn't afford it, said Mark Teeley, executive director.
"For a lot of our residents, this will be their first holiday as an adult where they are clean and sober," said Teeley, who once battled his own addictions and celebrated 20 years of recovery this month. "A lot of them are the hard-core addicts the ones you see down on the river."
"Relapse can be a big problem this time of the year," Teeley said. "There's a lot of guilt, shame and remorse for many of these folks. It can hit them hard at the holidays."
Tanya Cummings credits Clean & Sober with giving her a new start. The 46-year-old mother of four began drinking at 14 and spent the next 31 years abusing drugs.
Four years ago, she lost custody of her three youngest daughters and wound up living on the streets and behind bars on a charge of felony driving under the influence and a probation violation.
Since summer 2011, she has been living in sobriety in one of the program's 10 townhouses, has a job with a marketing company, and soon will move into transitional housing and regain custody of her girls.
"This program was the best thing that could happen to me," she said.
George Kohrummel, residential program manager, said Cummings' story has been repeated over and over, including for himself. After decades of drug addiction that destroyed his career and marriage, Clean & Sober helped Kohrummel transform his life into one of freedom from drugs, spiritual renewal and service to others.
"Miracles happen every day here," he said. "Remarkable things."
NEEDED: Funding for a Christmas party for Clean & Sober program members, families and friends.