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Easy Does It, Inc. of Bern Township marks 25 years

Posted on – By Beth Anne Heesen

Chris Raymer looked at his wife with tears in his eyes after a domestic disturbance and promised her that he would stop drinking.

“When I told her that I was going to quit, I meant it,” Raymer, who’s been sober for 27 years, told the crowd at Easy Does It, Inc.’s 25th anniversary celebration at the Inn of Reading in Wyomissing. Raymer lives in Texas, where he works for Origins Recovery Center.

“I meant it with every fiber in my body,” he said. “But I didn’t understand that I by myself didn’t have the power to manage the decision to stay stuck (in recovery).

“The idea that a person doesn’t conquer addiction alone was repeated throughout the event Monday night by guests and speakers.

Easy Does It aims to improve the quality of life of individuals and families recovering from the effects of addiction. Over the past quarter of a century, the Bern Township organization has served more than 2 million people.

The first ever-resident, Skip Martis, now 72 and living in Kutztown, wore a cowboy hat to the event and chose steak over lobster. He says Easy Does It taught him to live right.

“I was a 40-something-year-old man who didn’t know how to do laundry, how to cook my own food, and that I was supposed to have a bath on a daily basis,” he said. “Easy Does It was the one that provided the means to learn that stuff.”

A program graduate who spoke at the event, identified as Henry H. of Reading, said he was homeless when he came to Easy Does It and his family wouldn’t interact with him.

He told the staff that he wanted to quit so he could get his family back, and they encouraged him to first set smaller goals. With that approach of one step at a time, Henry is now celebrating eight years in recovery.

“The name Easy Does It was adopted from a slogan used by the 12 Step Program,” said Jodi A. Holland, the nonprofit’s executive director. “It’s used to describe a gradual but steady path through recovery from the disease of addiction. I would like to think of our continuous success at Easy Does It the same way – as a gradual but steady path to move forward to bigger and better things.”

The organization recognized three people at the event for making a difference in the community for addicts and those in recovery: The Rev. William Gutenberg, director of clinical pastoral services/assistant to the president at Caron Treatment Centers in South Heidelberg Township; Berks County Judge Peter W. Schmehl; and George J. Vogel, Jr., executive director of the Council on Chemical Abuse in Reading.

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