People Advocating Recovery (PAR) was founded as Kentucky’s statewide recovery community organization in 2002, gaining non-profit status in 2006. People in recovery and allies had been coming together in the state as part of Join Together’s Demand Treatment project and developed an Angel’s Program to provide outreach to people in emergency rooms because of addiction-related issues.
Following a Recovery Ambassador advocacy training, conducted by the Johnson Institute, the group formed PAR to bring forward an advocacy and public awareness focus. While relatively few new state dollars had been budgeted in the past 20 years, addiction problems were calling attention to the need for more treatment and recovery options.
PAR’s legislative advocacy agenda has included increasing funding for indigent treatment, restoration of voting rights to ex-felons, seeking increased placement of recovering persons on state policy advisory boards, and working for pre-trail diversion programs. PAR has developed effective partnerships other advocacy groups, such as Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Catholic Conference of Bishops and the League of Women Voters. PAR’s partnership with the Restoration of Voting Rights Coalition (ROVRC), housed at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, has fostered a fruitful collaboration. Three PAR Board members serve on the Coalition’s Executive Council. With the ROVRC, PAR has educated advocates, held rallies, and educated legislators about recovery. PAR members have testified before many committee hearings, talked one-on-one with their legislators, done outreach and linking for people needing help, made public appearances, and been featured in electronic and print media stories.
In the beginning PAR functioned as a strictly volunteer organization. There are now six PAR chapters, with two more developing and 7000 members. Individual chapters each have a seat on the Board and “at large” Board members are selected for their disparate points of view and varied political affiliations. In 2009, with support from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, PAR moved into a new stage of development with a volunteer Board and a paid Executive Director. This has increased its ability to advocate in the state capitol of Frankfort and elsewhere, to raise awareness of recovery needs and options around the state, and to assist in chapter development. In 2011, PAR broadened its capacity to deliver training and technical assistance in order to educate Kentuckians about peer and other recovery support services by establishing the PAR-ATC (Advocacy Training Center).