HOPE Sheds Light’s annual Celebration of HOPE walk provides hope and support to families at the Jersey Shore that are impacted by substance use disorder.
Seaside Heights, NJ – Nine years later and hope is stronger than ever. The 9th Annual Celebration of HOPE Walk, hosted by HOPE Sheds Light (HSL), brought nearly 2,000 individuals and families to the Seaside Heights Boardwalk on September 10th to learn about substance use disorder, celebrate recovery and provide hope to those affected.
The day was filled with balloon art, face painting, vendor displays, musical interludes, inspirational stories and lots of love for those who were lost from substance use disorder and those in recovery. The day’s top fundraising teams were Team FWH/Trident in first place and Stepping up for Sabrina in second.
The walk was organized by Pamela Capaci, CEO of HSL, Nancy Moore, Director of Recovery Centers at HSL Ocean County, and Emily Esposito, Recovery Center Director at HSL Monmouth County.
“Those impacted by substance use disorder typically don’t know where to turn for help,” said Moore. “HOPE Sheds light offers these individuals a community to lean on. We are stronger together than we could ever be walking this journey alone.”
After a few opening words from HSL Co-founder Steve Willis, a host of dignitaries and guest speakers who have been impacted by addiction took the stage. Dignitaries included: Ocean County Commissioner Barbara Jo Crea; Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer, and Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Lindsay Ashwal.
Esposito had the honor of cutting the start ribbon to kick of the walk. “This was such a special moment that I will treasure forever,” she said. “I walked to show that anyone can stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live with the help of each other. Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate this special day with us.”
During the event, Nicole Federici, shared her personal story about her son’s struggle with substance use disorder and how her relationship with him evolved over time. Federici’s passion for helping those impacted by substance use and related disorders eventually led her to start Recovery Advocates of the Jersey Shore, Inc. (RAFTS) in 2017. The nonprofit recently merged with HSL.
“The need was great, so we partnered with HSL, and through that merger, we were able to expand our services and acquire our new freestanding building located at 2510 Apache Road in Manasquan,” she said.
The merger between HSL and RAFTS became a pivotal part of HSL’s story. “We will never stop speaking out loud against stigma at every turn,” said Willis. “We now have the wonderful opportunity to tell that story in Ocean County, Monmouth County and anywhere else we are privileged to go.”
Capaci offered her appreciation to the entire community, as well as the HSL team for their unwavering support through the years. “We started out as a grassroots effort, and today, nine years later, we stand firm on our mission driven decision to serve the community,” she said. “HOPE’s growth means that more and more people each day are being served with love and encouraged and coached toward recovery. We can’t wait to see what the future holds as we return to Seaside Heights next year for our 10th Annual Celebration of HOPE Walk.”
About HOPE Sheds Light, Inc.
HOPE Sheds Light, Inc. is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (Tax ID: 46-3910504) that is supported by friends and families directly affected by substance use disorder and found recovery through continuous love, support and understanding. The mission of HSL is to raise awareness and educate individuals, families and the community about the impact of substance use disorder by having the courage to share personal experiences and offer strength, wisdom, hope and resources that lead to positive community change and long-term recovery. To learn more or to donate, please visit http://www.HOPEShedsLight.org.