Sister Dee Sizler takes part reciting the Serenity Prayer on Sept. 18 at the Hands Across the Bridge event. (Erin Laughlin | For the Juneau Empire)

Sister Dee Sizler takes part reciting the Serenity Prayer on Sept. 18 at the Hands Across the Bridge event. (Erin Laughlin | For the Juneau Empire)

Hands Across the Bridge event aims to change stigma around addiction

It would have been hard for drivers on the Douglas Bridge on Sunday to miss a group of 52 people holding hands and waving signs reading “Recovery is possible!”

The first Hands Across the Bridge event took place Sunday. Attendees made their way from either side of the bridge, meeting in the middle to join hands and recite the Serenity Prayer together.

The event aims to celebrate those in recovery, honor those who help make it happen, and work to change the stigma associated with addiction, said event organizer Carrie Amott.

“The event is important because it gives the community a chance to celebrate National Recovery Month, and show how the importance of community support from peers and others plays into one’s journey in recovering from substance use,” Amott said.

The Great Bear Recovery Collective hosted the event. The collective seeks to develop a community of people in recovery who have gained a life of meaning and purpose and wish to share it back.

Those in attendance at the Hands Across the Bridge included individuals in recovery, friends and family of those in recovery, and community members who just wanted to show support.

A believer in second chances, Sister Dee Sizler, former AWARE counselor who also helped found Haven House, attended the event Sunday. Sizler noted her reason for attending as, “I want to support people who are doing the hard work of starting over.”

“People think that they are criminals, or dangerous,” Sizler said. “If you really get to know people you will know that is not the case.”

One especially exuberant attendee who proudly displayed a “Recovery is possible” sign was Jose Delgado, 49, who received three years in prison for a drive-by shooting last year. The now halfway house resident, who has been sober for 19 months, spoke on the misconception of those in recovery.

“If you get to know us,” Delgado said, “we are not bad people.”

Delgado says he takes each day at a time and reflects on his past mistakes as a motivator to do and be better. He wishes to apologize to Juneau saying, “I would like to say sorry for the things I have done. I have changed.”

He says his strongest motivator is his daughter.

“I am currently trying to get my daughter who is in state custody,” Delgado said. “That is my rock right now.”

Great Bear Recovery Collective will be hosting more events until the end of September. Events include Sober Disc Golf at Aant’iyeik Park at 3 p.m. on Sept. 23 and the Recovery Costume Ball and Silent Auction at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center at 7 p.m. Sept. 30.

• Erin Laughlin is a student journalist at the University of Alaska Southeast and can be reached at

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