‘It saved me’: Pa. nonprofit tackles stigma around substance use, recovery

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Kim Porter (front row, second from right), and the Board of Be Part of the Conversation. (Provided by Be Part of the Conversation)

Kim Porter (front row, second from right), and the Board of Be Part of the Conversation. (Provided by Be Part of the Conversation)

A Pennsylvania nonprofit aims to tackle the addiction crisis head-on.

Bringing together community leaders, educators, families, and addiction experts, Be Part of the Conversation offers a safe space for those impacted by substance use.

“My son is the reason I got into this work,” said Kim Porter, executive director of Be Part of the Conversation. “He is 33 now and has 12 years of recovery, which we are extremely grateful for, and that is not always the case.”

A graphic designer and marketing expert, Porter was working in the Hatboro-Horsham School District’s Education Foundation when the door opened to help with Be Part of the Conversation. She started by helping with the logo, and it grew from there.

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“I didn’t want not one more family member to be in the dark and living with the terror that they would lose their family member,” Porter said.

Be Part of the Conversation provides forums for open dialogue and opportunities to reduce the stigma of drug addiction, mental health, and trauma.

“We get as sick as our family members,” said Porter. “We have people who have given their children Narcan and brought them back and done it multiple times — that is traumatizing.”

Parents and family members of those dealing with addiction can get help, as well as those seeking recovery. The programs discuss substances ranging from alcohol to cannabis, opioids, and methamphetamines, and provide guidance on signs of substance use. They also give parents the tools to talk to their children and to set healthy boundaries once recovery begins.

“If you haven’t been through it, it’s hard to understand,” says Chris King, a board member for Be Part of the Conversation.

King’s daughter was in crisis in 2015, and she was taken aback by the discovery.

“I found Be Part of the Conversation in 2016,” King said. “And it saved me. It was a place where I wasn’t alone.”

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King says her daughter is now four years into recovery.

“We share information and we support one another,” King said. “There are so few places where we can talk about this in our regular lives.”

On Sunday, April 24, Be Part of the Conversation will hold its spring brunch at The Farmhouse at People’s Light in Malvern.

The event will honor volunteers who have dedicated years to supporting parents and other caregivers who love someone with a substance use disorder.

Megan Cohen, founder of The Grace Project, will also be honored with the Conversation Youth Information Award. When Cohen found sobriety after struggling with addiction and homelessness, she wanted to help others.

Porter put it simply: “She’s tremendous.”

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