HOPE 2019 Agenda, Presenters, and Workshops

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2019 HOPE Conference
Stronger Together: Embracing Relationships, Well-Being, and Community

Seth Blais and Tamra Oman
May 29, 2019 | 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM | Augusta Civic Center | 76 Community Drive, Augusta, ME
$15 by May 22 | $20 on or after May 23

8:00 – 8:30 Check-in & Breakfast
8:30 – 8:45 Opening Remarks
8:45 – 9:30 Keynote Speaker: Seth Blais, Choosing to Live
9:30 – 9:45 Break
9:45 – 12:30 Sessions A and B
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch
1:15 – 2:15 Keynote Speaker: Tamra Oman, Light It UP
2:15 – 2:30 Break
2:30 – 3:45 Session C
3:45 to 4:00 Announcement of State Park Pass Winners and Closing

Contact Hours –You may collect your certificate of attendance as you depart.
Lodging is available to peers/consumers who travel more than 130 miles one way to attend.
Carpooling is recommended for organizations. Participants taking more than 2 passengers in their private vehicle may enter a $25 gas card raffle.
Mileage is reimbursed for peers/consumers using their own vehicle to travel 150+ miles round trip.
Food – A menu that accommodates shellfish, peanut, and tree nut allergies and offers gluten and dairy free options will be provided.
Special Accommodations – We will do our best to respond to reasonable requests. Please contact Peggy Spencer | ccsme@www.ccsme.org by April 29, 2019
Book Table Kelly’s Books To-Go will be available. Checks, Visa, MC or Discover are accepted.
Resource Tables HOPE Conference sponsors will showcase their organizations and resources. Visit every table with your HOPE Passport! Passports stamped from every vendor will be entered into a drawing to win a 2019 State of Maine park pass.
Volunteers who contact Melissa Caswell by 5/14 will receive free registration. Please contact her directly at 207-430-8300 or mcaswell@maineccsm.org to receive the benefit.

Directions The Augusta Civic Center is located at 76 Community Drive in Augusta. From I-95, take exit 112 from the north or exit 112a from the south. Go south on Civic Center Drive (toward the shopping area) and turn right on Community Drive (at the traffic light near the Civic Center sign). Continue a short distance on Community Drive. You will see the Augusta Civic Center ahead. Look for the North Wing of the building (at the right end).


Seth Blais Seth Blais is living in recovery from substance use disorder. After a decade of struggling with heroin and cocaine addiction, he dedicates most of his time reaching out to peers who share his experience. Through his work with several recovery-focused organizations, he advocates for individuals seeking recovery and/or living with active addiction.
Seth volunteers as a recovery coach, works with the State on a PSA campaign, writes an ongoing addiction column with the Portland Press Herald, and serves as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Crossroads, a non-profit residential treatment program.

Tamra Oman Tamra Oman’s life has been all about never giving up. She is a living example of being persistent both personally and professionally. Tamra has utilized her own healing journey and her professional experience to develop trainings, presentations, and programs to broaden the understanding of how to assist others to engage, heal, and grow.
Tamra Oman is a human services program coordinator (the first Peer Role in a correctional setting in Wisconsin) at the Wisconsin Resource Center; a mental health treatment facility classified as a prison and has been an AODA Counselor for the past 8 years. Her focus over the last 10 years has been working with clients in the criminal justice system with addiction and mental health challenges. She has created programming being used in correctional facilities and continues to seek ways to be of service. She is a co-founder of Voices Beyond Bars and the non-profit SISTER HOUSE. Ms. Oman brings a unique perspective based on her own experiences. She has spent the years since her own incarceration and release from prison developing relationships, seeking education, providing presentations, creating relevant programming, educating agencies, individuals, and systems about the journey of addiction and imprisonment. She has been an advocate for others who have been in and are in similar situations as her own.

Morning Keynote – Seth Blais | Choosing to Live: Seth will share his journey through a decade of substance use disorder, how he found himself living in addiction and feeling hopeless to how he finally found recovery. The address will examine why not all substance users become addicted, what prevents the ones who do from getting help, and how we as a community can make it easier for everyone to find recovery.

Session I

A1 – Kelly J. Richardson | Everyday Creativity in Recovery: I have been a witness to both my own use and my peer support group’s use of everyday creative practices to aid recovery. At times I have been simply astonished at the personal growth and insight creative practices fostered. For those who already feel creative, I hope they can find new inspiration and maybe even new methods to try. For those new to everyday creativity, I hope they will find that it makes a real difference in their recovery. The HOPE conference is one time when people come together in community to learn, grow and enjoy being together. Sharing in this bigger venue will open up the possibilities for more people to be exposed to these supports to enhance their recovery. Participants in this workshop will learn a variety of creative practices to support recovery, sample short everyday creative exercises, and understand how to choose and implement more everyday creative practices going forward.

A2 – Hilary La Riviere and Ilana Schreiber | An Exploration of Gender and Pronouns: Embracing Relationships and Community through Inclusivity and Respect: What is gender beyond the binary? How can we understand and use pronouns correctly? This workshop is designed to provide a space to learn about gender and sex as a spectrum, as well as the myriad of pronouns individuals identify with beyond the binary “he” and “she.” As individuals with lived experience within the LGBTQI+ community, the presenters will guide participants through gaining a foundation of the importance of understanding gender and pronouns, and assumptions that we all hold within the realm of sex and gender, toward creating and sustaining more inclusive and stronger relationships and communities. Through group participation and brainstorming we will work together to define these concepts, explore our own discomfort and perspectives, and discover ways in which we can build skills to utilize within the context of our own lives and in sharing with others towards creating social change.

A3 – Jesse Harvey | Harm Reduction as Nonviolent Civil Disobedience: This presentation will tell the story of the Church of Safe Injection (CoSI) and its harm reduction services in the State of Maine. Participants will learn of the Maine CDC’s puzzling decision to delist CoSI as valid secondary exchange, and the ensuing announcement by Lewiston Police Department that members of the CoSI congregation would face arrest were they to continue. This specific story will be delivered within the context of the much broader history in Maine, including the law, the provision of “sanctioned” harm reduction services by the state’s non-profit industrial complex actors, and upcoming changes likely to occur since the regime change.

A4 – Mae L’Hereux | Ending the Silence: NAMI Ending the Silence is an engaging presentation that helps audience members learn about the warning signs of mental health conditions and what steps to take if you or a loved one are showing symptoms of a mental illness. NAMI Ending the Silence presentations include a lead presenter who shares an informative presentation and a young adult with a mental health condition who shares their journey of recovery. Audience members can ask questions and gain understanding of an often-misunderstood topic. Through dialogue, we can help grow the movement to end stigma. The presentation includes many videos to reinforce the message of hope. As the young adult presenter, Mae will share her own story of mental health challenges including anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Another NAMI Maine staff member trained in the delivery of Ending the Silence will present the curriculum portion of the presentation.

A5 – Seth Blais | We Do Not Recover Alone: Joined by his mother, Seth will explore why not everyone who uses substances becomes addicted, and how we has a community can help those affected by substance use disorder.

A6 – Mary Beth Hassett & Marie Arnberg | NADA Protocol: Nonverbal Approach to Healing: The 1-5-point ear acupuncture protocol commonly referred to as NADA (promoted by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) is a simple, low-cost and effective tool for mental and physical well-being. Developed in the early 1970’s for treatment of substance use disorder at Lincoln Recovery, Bronx, NY, by Dr. Michael O. Smith, the NADA protocol was later shown to also effectively treat symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress. Today, this protocol is used all over the world in populations affected by substance use and mental health disorders, natural disasters, war, trauma and displacement. In Maine it has been used for over a decade in four free-standing, volunteer-run weekly clinics serving veterans, active duty military and their families. In Southern Maine, the protocol is used in substance use disorder programs at Back Cove Women’s Residential Program and ENSO/Westbrook, and has in the past been used at Preble Street, as well as Crossroads for Women.

Session II

B1 – Kelly J. Richardson | Recovery Writing Practices: I’ve been a witness to both my own use and my peer support group’s use of writing to aid in recovery. At times I have been simply astonished at the personal growth and insight writing has fostered. For those who already write, I hope they can find new inspiration and maybe even new methods to try. For those new to writing, I hope they will find that it makes a real difference in their recovery. The HOPE conference is one time when people come together in community to learn, grow and enjoy being together. Sharing in this bigger venue will open up the possibilities for more people to be exposed to these supports to enhance their recovery. Having previously presented on writing at the HOPE conference, I have observed more alternatives empowers people to choose the practice that is the best fit for them. Participants in this workshop will explore a variety of writing practices to support recovery, sample short writing prompts, and gain knowledge on choosing writing practices that best suits them.

B2 – Leah Boyd | I Make Sense and So Do You: In this presentation I will tell my personal story of challenges with alcohol and risky behavior and then will share some of the processes, practices and ways of thinking that have kept me sober and out of harm’s way for the past 28 years. In particular I will share practices for self-care rooted in Self-Empathy, Resonant Language, Self-connection and some Interpersonal Neurobiology that supports it all. When we can begin to turn towards ourselves with warmth and kindness we begin to see that everything we have ever said or done has actually made perfect sense based on what we have experienced and what we really care about. As we meet ourselves with warm accompaniment, we increase our ability to self-regulate. This presentation will be interactive and participants will be invited to participate as much or as little as they choose.

B3 – Jeannette Jacques | Meditation with Jeannette: An Introduction and Practice Proposal: Participants in this workshop will engage in deep breathing to be present and in the moment. They will choose from the provided options a comfortable position in which to relax. The benefits and different types of meditation will be discussed and the presenter will offer do-it-yourself ideas to enhance your meditation experience at home. After leading you on a journey of guided imagery, the presenter will open the floor for questions and feedback with an opportunity to try a different meditation technique. Please bring a pillow and/or a blanket.

B4 – Karin Libby, Michael Libby, Katie Morin | Affirmation Jars to Recovery 2019: With provided materials, participants will make their own affirmation jar to recovery. Presenters will speak about their personal experiences using affirmations and address how affirmations have helped them in their recovery journey. The workshop will dive deep into what affirmations are and how they have changed our lives. Participants will brainstorm and be encouraged to write out some of their own affirmations. We will come together prior to the end of the workshop to share what we have learned about ourselves during this process and if there are any one or two affirmations that specifically speaks to each one of us today.

B5 – Elaine Ecker, Tamra Oman | Baby, Come back! Hey, You, where did you go? Didn’t we all enter this world bright, shiny, innocent, joyful, and pretty happy? We took everything in, expressed our feelings, asked for what we needed, bounced back ready to love, and always looked for the next fun thing. We explored, experimented, fell down, and got back up to try again. We were nearly unstoppable for a while…and then life continued to challenge us and our hearts…So where does all that go? Do we just naturally get older and wiser and put away our excited spirit? Or do we lose touch with our truth and parts of ourselves, while doing the best we can to make sense of really tough experiences? Let’s discover more of who we really are by exploring who we were BEFORE the traumas, cultural conditioning, and misinformation taught us differently. Let’s trade some fear for some love today!

B6 – Sue Frost, Paula Gustafson | Depression and Anxiety: What Is in Your Toolbox? Having one’s own tool box as a resource for dealing with depression and anxiety strengthens coping skills. Participants in this workshop will receive references and materials to build their own tool box. Tool boxes will be developed independently and with guidance from the presenter. Participants will be able to list the many ways to handle anxiety, prevent depression, recognize warning signs, and effectively apply the strategies they have put in their tool box.

Afternoon Keynote – Tamra Oman | We are Stronger Together: Each one of us has special talents and gifts- each one of us has a unique space to fill in this world! We need a world of individuals who have found their fire, their voice, and their “soul tribe”. Together we can support and compassionately challenge one another to build the kind of community we desire! Let’s Light This Place Up with Love!! We are who we have been waiting for. In this Session Participants will explore the kind of community they would like to have and identify 3 areas they would like to see positive change, out of those 3 areas pick one place they might start, identify 2 people from their “soul tribe” they might discuss this with, set a date for an action towards creating the community they desire, and scribe commitment date on paper and post.

Session III

C1 – Monica Elwell | Recovery 101: Recovery 101 encompasses my recovery story, the value of setting goals, following our dreams, accepting alternative opportunities and going where your road leads you. Participants will practice a variety of wellness tools, talk about accepting the hurdles of loving and living in a world where differences matter and dreams motivate us! If you want to learn a little about my journey, experience some of the opportunities I have been blessed with, ask questions about getting involved yourself, learn some new wellness tools, and walk with me through some of the joys and struggles of being a consumer and a provider in Maine then this may be the right workshop for you!

C2 – Gia Drew | Confronting Stress and Finding Happiness: For me, being part of the LGBTQ community and living with a mental illness has been very stressful. I have often struggled with how can I be happy and queer, when it seems like the whole world does not care about me? This interactive and participant centered presentation will provide attendees the opportunity to reflect on the stress and trauma many of us live with, as well as provide avenues to create a unique self-care plan that is grounded in the real world, based in neuroscience, and provides a realistic pathway to happiness.

C3 – Mike Lee, Vickie McCarty | Your Voice Affects Laws, So Stand Up and Be Heard: In this workshop, we will present you with a mock legislative hearing skit. This skit will show you, the people, in an interesting yet informative way how you can be a part of the legislative process. You will learn how a legislative hearing works. You will also learn of the many ways you can be sure to have input during these important times of bills being presented, which lead to laws being changed or put into place. Learn how to be part of this process of change. We will provide you with handouts on how to access supports to write testimonies, where to go to learn what bills the legislators are looking at, tours of your state house and more.

C4 – Thomas Poulson | Wellness through Music: All of the tracks to wellness will be examined and participants will choose among them to create a poem about how we create wellness in ourselves. Participants will explore personal means of coping to express themselves, work as a group to create a song, sing together, and realize personal talents and celebrate them.

C5 – Melissa Caswell, Mark Joyce | Reasonable Accommodations: A Legal Right Not Special Treatment Individuals with psychiatric labels are often covered under various state and federal laws that allow for the request of reasonable accommodations in such areas as employment, housing, government services and public accommodations. These requests are often viewed by those receiving them as a request for “special treatment” instead of an individual exercising a legal right. This workshop will examine this legal right.

C6 – To be announced



This conference is designed by consumers and allies who want to increase awareness and skills about recovery and wellness. A big thank you to the dedicated and hardworking conference planning committee, representing SAMHS, CCSM, MAPSARC, NAMI Maine, Peer Support Specialists Network, and CCSME.

Brahim Bethi | Suzanne Boras | Melissa Caswell | Kate Chichester | Paula Gustafson
Mindy Harrison |  Jesse Harvey |  Troy Henderson | Mae L’Hereux | Linda MacDonald
Simonne Maline | Nancy Michaud | Malory Shaughnessy | Peggy Spencer