2016 Annual Reception and Celebration

A year ago, Dennis Blake was in the throes of an addiction to opioid medications that was steadily destroying the life he had built for himself — his marriage, his job, his connection to his children and his future.

In December 2016, Dennis found himself standing at a podium before a crowd of more than 100 Rushford supporters and staff members, sharing the remarkable journey that set him on a path to recovery that has given his life new meaning and hope.

“If you had told me a year ago that I would be doing something like this, standing in a room like this talking about my addictions, there would have been no chance – and yet, here I am,” said Dennis, who was one of three people to share their stories of recovery at the Rushford Foundation Annual Reception at St. Clements Castle in Portland.

The speakers were there to express their thanks for the services Rushford provided to support their recovery, and as a reminder of why the organization’s work is so important.

“I don’t know what I would have done without Rushford,” said Michael Mitchell, a featured speaker who talked about how his dependency on alcohol and other substances cost him his job, his home and his ties with his family. Like Dennis, he sought treatment at Rushford and is now on a strong path of recovery that includes working closely with others who are going through the same experience.

The third speaker was Daryl McGraw, who spoke powerfully about a journey that began as a small child living in poor and sometimes dangerous conditions followed by years of substance abuse and incarceration before he took steps to reach out for help. He is now the associate director of the Office of Recovery Community Affairs at the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and a Rushford board member.

  • “What I’ve learned from places like Rushford is that if we work together, there’s nothing we can’t do, we will be OK.”

    - Daryl McGraw

After their comments, all three speakers drew a standing ovation from the audience.

David Director, chair of the Rushford Foundation, said stories such as those that were shared at the reception are the motivation that drives Rushford forward. He said the organization should be proud of its leading role in helping change the way people view behavioral health issues, and bringing the most effective care to those who are suffering.

  • “You give people their lives back. That’s what Rushford is all about.”

    - David Director