Summit County Recovery Foundation selects new director
July 12, 2016
For more than two decades, Park City resident Roy Parker has been recovering from his battle with alcoholism. For Parker, recovery has not only been a gift, but a daily responsibility as well.
"The disease of addiction takes an individual and their entire family hostage because as addicts we behave so irrationally," Parker said. "It's an all-encompassing disease and it breaks hearts. Fortunately for me, I had a lot of people who helped me along the way to get to where I am."
Parker said people who are currently in recovery are his heroes because he knows, firsthand, that they have been "to hell and back." As Parker's way of saying 'thank you' and returning the favor, he recently accepted a position as the director of the nonprofit organization the Summit County Recovery Foundation.
Created in 2013, the nonprofit organization provides support to participants in the county's Drug Court program, which is an alternative program the county offers for eligible participants to avoid jail time. Former Summit County Prosecutor Matt Bates and Public Defender Paul Quinlan founded the organization.
"It's just a very small nonprofit that supports the drug court by helping to pay for and provide the services that the government doesn't provide," Bates said recently in an interview with The Park Record. "Roy wants to run with it and build it into the sort of preeminent recovery support group. Not necessarily something that competes with Valley Behavioral Health, but something that complements it. And he has our blessing."
When Parker moved to Summit County more than three years ago, he slowly began to align himself with the drug court program and recovery foundation. The former educator and attorney would often lend his services to those in need free of charge.
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"The more I volunteered the more I realized how passionate I was about it and wanted to do it full time," Parker said.
"The purpose of the foundation has always been to support those who go through drug court and to celebrate that accomplishment," Parker said. "But I am looking to expand the foundation beyond that because once they are released, aftercare is just as important."
Ever since stepping into the position, Parker said he has been exploring the potential to form partnerships with various community leaders and groups.
"What I am doing right now is just hoping to connect the dots by meeting with various people to see and offer what I've learned about what mental health and support really is," Parker said. "It is really about creating a comprehensive approach to help with funding and help divert it toward the individuals who need it.
"It's a big issue for the county," Parker said.
Parker said he is hoping to join the conversations that are taking place between the Health Department, the county and court as officials work to identify what the available services are and how to improve them.
"Part of the issue with substance abuse is everyone very much has a 'don't ask don't tell' policy and we have to be able to talk about it," Parker said. "Our country is suffering from addiction. It is the leading cause of death in our country right now where it used to be traffic accidents. There are about 129 overdoses a day and 80 of those are from opioids.
"The mission of the foundation is to try and help support those who are suffering from this disease," he said. "For the longest time, there has been this perception that you have to bottom out. But I'm a cancer survivor and no one said you had to bottom out with cancer. We don't want people to have to bottom out with addiction."
The county's drug court program currently serves about 15 participants and their families, Parker said, adding that the goal is to expand that to more than 50 people.
"Our goal is to be able to impact and support families and individuals who suffer from addiction well beyond their release," Parker said.
As an educator, Parker said a significant part of his role as director will be dedicated to spreading awareness within the community about those who suffer from addiction.
"Politically, the timing is right because in this country we have a problem and people are finally beginning to acknowledge it," Parker said. "It's all very serendipitous. But the way that I can help out the most is as a person in recovery just helping other people and their families."
The Summit County Recovery Foundation can be reached by emailing email@example.com.