Kalkaska County Serenity Vigil Celebrates Recovery, Remembers Lives Lost From Addiction

Monday night, the sixth annual Kalkaska County Serenity Vigil remembered those who’ve lost their fight with substance abuse.

The goal of the evening was to learn more about addiction, pray for those struggling with it and celebrate those in recovery.

“I think it takes a community to make a difference and I think we all need to stand up and fight for these people,” said Suzanne Prentice, the co-chair of Live Well Kalkaska Substance Free Coalition.

The Live Well Kalkaska Substance Free Coalition and Celebrate Recovery – Kalkaska joined forces for a special event.

“I felt there was a need to recognize the people who have lost their lives to substance abuse and those who are still struggling,” said Prentice.

They want to end the stigma that comes with addiction.

“We need to break down those walls by teaching the community about addiction, about recovery,” said Prentice.

Everyone at the event hung ornaments on the Serenity Tree in memory of those who lost their lives to addiction.

“Hate the disease, don’t hate the person because we need forgiveness,” said Patricia Steele, a recovering alcoholic and author.

Steele spent seven years behind bars after her drunk driving led to a deadly car crash.

“I cannot take back the things that happened but I can be a really productive good person who can affect people’s lives today,” said Steele.

After serving time in jail, Steele started working for Addiction Treatment Services where she used her story to help others.

She continues to do so and even wrote the book “The Gift of Second Chances”.

“I wrote it so that hopefully people will go on the journey with me and feel what it felt like to be an addict so that they understand the disease of it and how it’s driven by feelings,” said Steele.

She says she couldn’t have gotten where she is today without support from loved ones.

“It takes a lot to survive addiction. It takes a whole lot to find recovery. It’s a fight of a lifetime,” said Steele.