Bay County Families Affected by Drug Addiction Will Receive Christmas Gifts Thanks to Generous Donors


BAY CITY, MI – Bay County Pathways to Recovery provides support for people recovering from substance use and working to rebuild their lives. And, at Christmas, this support consists of helping parents celebrate the holiday with their children.

Thanks to the generosity of donors across Bay County, approximately 50 children from 20 families affected by substance abuse will have gifts to open this holiday season.

“When families are recovering, the holidays are a very stressful time for so many reasons,” said Marnie Westphal, a peer advocate/case manager at Recovery Pathways who runs the specialist program for women. “A lot of them are starting over, starting new jobs, they don’t have a lot of money.”

On Friday, Dec. 17, parents in need gathered at a Knights of Columbus hall in Essexville for a gift-wrapping party.

“They have a great time wrapping the presents, then they take them out and put them under the tree for their kids,” Westphal said.

The program, now in its fifth year, began in 2017 with nine families and 15 children receiving gifts and has grown steadily ever since. Additionally, this year, donors provided 55 boxes of diapers, six large garbage bags filled with baby wipes, and monetary donations. East Lansing-based GreenStone Farm Credit Services donated $1,800.

Westphal said this is all possible thanks to the kindness of community members.

“There are still generous people. People who don’t need recognition, people who just want to make someone’s life better,” she said.

This means a lot to the families who benefit from it.

“There usually isn’t a dry eye in the room. They are so thankful and grateful.

Recovery Pathways, based in Essexville, offers outpatient rehabilitation programs for teens and adults with drug and/or alcohol abuse, as well as mental health disorders. Its services include substance use disorder treatment, mental health disorder treatment, individual counselling, group and family therapy, personal growth education, case management, drug testing and more.

Director Kimber Debelak says ‘substance use affects the whole family, not just the individual’, and recovery often requires ‘whole life rebuilding’, big things, like finding a job and transportation , to the little things, like having presents for their children to open on Christmas morning.

Debelak said people sometimes tend to think of those recovering from substance use as “a group of them and not a group of us,” but “people struggling with substances are like you and me when we look in the mirror”.

“It’s a community problem that needs a community solution…being able to hug and love each other,” she said. “And this is one way to show it.”

For more information or to donate, contact Marnie Westphal at 989-529-0102 or [email protected]

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