22-Year-Old Connecticut Recovery Community Organization Launches Marine Conservancy Initiative

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One the nation's original Recovery Community Organizations, CCAR, has launched a new initiative aimed at bringing together diverse communities and partners under the shared mission of stewardship toward our worlds oceans, beaches, and waterways. ORCA - the Ocean Recovery Community Alliance.

More than 500 lbs. of waste pulled from Bridgeport waterways at a recent cleanup.

“People have asked me, what can I do to help? I tell them, how do you see yourself aligning yourself with nature? It’s something I ask myself on a daily basis."

The Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) has worked to support individuals and families affected by substance use since 1998. This July marked a new frontier for the long-standing non-profit when they launched a new initiative based on protecting our nation’s oceans, beaches, and waterways. The initiative is called ORCA, the Ocean Recovery Community Alliance.

ORCA hosted its first river cleanup in Stonington on the Mystic River, July 25th, and a beach cleanup at Bridgeport’s Seaside Park the week after, collecting a total of more than 650 lbs. of waste from the two events. The third ORCA cleanup event is scheduled for Sunday, August 16th, 6 PM, at Esker Point Beach in Groton, Connecticut.

The connection between addiction recovery and marine conservancy may not be clear to all but for ORCA’s new Project Coordinator, Kevin Carmignani, the move makes perfect sense.

“The values of the Recovery Community directly align with ORCA’s vision”, says Carmignani, an individual also in personal Recovery. “Recovery is about doing the next right thing and being of service, whether anyone is watching or not. The connection we all share as residents of this planet is powerful and as human beings we should take care of it as a community.”

ORCA seeks to extend this sense of service and community into the realm of oceanic conservancy by performing outreach and providing volunteer outings that bring diverse groups together under a shared purpose and shared values. Those values include respect, integrity, and gratitude, according to Carmignani.

“The environment needs us now more than ever”, says Carmignani. “Because of the pandemic, people are getting outside a lot more and sadly we are seeing more litter on our beaches and rivers. It’s also unfortunate that we are finding a large number of PPE supplies at our cleanups. Now, as a community, we should direct our focus outside to be stewards of the earth.”

The “Community Alliance” is growing. Attendance has gradually increased at each event, new cleanups are being planned, and outreach to prospective community partners is well-underway as support for this unexpected initiative continues to come forward. But ORCA is still seeking partners and contributions to grow their capacity. Specifically, ORCA is looking for a supporter willing to donate a van to serve as a mobile clean-up vehicle and that will be wrapped with ORCA imagery and the logo of the benefactor. Anyone interested in helping can reach out by email at ORCA@ccar.us.

Carmignani is energized and optimistic about the future of ORCA. “People have asked me, what can I do to help? I tell them, how do you see yourself aligning yourself with nature? It’s something I ask myself on a daily basis. We need to work together to build community and share what we discover through our service.”

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Thomas Russo
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Ocean Recovery Community Alliance - ORCA
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