People were making merry on New Year’s Eve in the basement of St. Peters Episcopal Church in Tunkhannock.
Many folks were playing cards. Some were enjoying snacks and drinks. Music was playing throughout the evening and participants could dance if they wished.
There was only one thing not available which is usually associated with a typical New Year’s Eve celebration.
The celebration at St. Peters was sponsored by the Wyoming County chapter of Young People in Recovery, a group which provides support to people who are recovering from drug or alcohol abuse.
Part of YPR’s purpose is to provide a social support network to its participants, allowing them to socialize which helps them on their road to recovery.
John Fabiseski, Chapter Lead for Wyoming County YPR, explained that Rev. Lou Divis, pastor of St. Peters, approached him with the idea of YPR hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration at the church.
“We bought sodas, popcorn and other treats,” Fabiseski said, explaining they were able to pay for them from proceeds raised during the Rockin’ Out Addiction, Rollin’ in Recovery event at Lazybrook Brook in October.
“We wanted to work together to make this a safe and sober fun night.”
Other entertainment included video games where people could bowl or play baseball as well as other activities. As expected, this proved very popular with the children who showed up, although many adults also enjoyed competing against them.
The event was open to the public as well as YPR members, and it was evident that a number of friends and relatives had shown up to share in the festivities.
“Many people are not used to this idea,” Fabiseski said, explaining this is the first time YPR sponsored a non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve celebration. “But people connect for a common goal, and that is what YPR is about - coming together for a common goal.”
Previously, Fabiseski explained, YPR held its meetings at Wyoming County’s emergency management center.
“It was wonderful that Rev. Lou allowed us to hold the event here,” Fabiseski said.
YPR is also looking to hold other similar activities at the church in the future.
“There is no charge and you don’t have to be a member to participate,” Fabiseski said about the New Year’s Eve celebration,” Fabiseski said. “This is the first one and we’re hoping that each year it will get bigger and bigger.”
What YPR is hoping to do, Fabiseski said, is send a message that people - and not just those in recovery - can enjoy a safe non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve.
“We stress the fact that it is safe and sober entertainment,” he said. “That is an important area.”
One participant was Ryan Taylor, a member of YPR who serves as an employment lead for the organization.
“I truly believe in what we do here as an organization, and show you can have a good time in recovery,” Taylor explained.
He said that the event includes card games geared for adults, as well as simpler ones like ‘Go Fish.’ Board games are also available at the event.
“I love every bit of it. I’m enjoying myself,” Taylor explained.
Another participant in the evening’s festivities is Wayne Franko of Nicholson, who contributes to the entertainment by providing Tarot readings.
“I’m probably the oldest member in recovery,” Franko explains with a laugh.
He said that YPR provides an important function in providing its members with a way to socialize and have fun. Franko also said he thinks it is a great idea allowing the public to participate in the New Year’s Eve celebration.
“They asked if we should have kids (come to the celebration) and the answer was we’re glad to do it,” Franko said. “This is only going to get better with time.”