52 trees will be painted in Baltimore County park this weekend to celebrate addicts in recovery

Posted at 5:05 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-11 18:01:03-04

Back in the woods at Oregon Ridge Park, the trees are becoming part of a deeply personal project.

The trunks of 52 walnut, oak and maple trees have been painted white, with color guides similar to paint-by-numbers.
This weekend, about 600 people will bring the bark to life, creating an installation celebrating people who have freed themselves from the grips of drugs and alcohol and are thriving in recovery.

"Each one tells a unique story about going from darkness to light, the fact that nobody was alone, that we brought people together," said Forest of Hope Lead Artist Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen.

The designs going on the trees will mirror the beauty and strength of those overcoming addiction.
Rennie Grant is one of them.

"The only thing I can say about my addiction is it stole my life, it took my dreams, rerouted things, you know, my whole trajectory was ruined really," he said.

But this forest is about hope, inspiration and triumph!
Each team is made up of people in recovery and their loved ones. The artwork will tell their stories, and each tree will also have a plaque explaining the group's personal journey of recovery and what it means to them.

So far the effort has raised more than $150,000 for The Nikki Perlow Foundation to help people struggling with substance abuse and bring awareness to the issue.
"Addiction is a disease, no different than many other diseases,” said Gary Perlow, President of The Nikki Perlow Foundation. “But on the flip side, people will recover and we want to tear down that stigma tied to addiction."

"It's about getting people into treatment,” Grant said. “It's about getting people to a place where they're willing to give us, you know, the trust."

And it's about giving addicts hope that recovery is possible.

Teams will paint the Forest of Hope this Saturday Sept. 16, followed by a Recovery Celebration Picnic in the park.
If you want to get involved, you can still donate to the effort, or buy a ticket to the picnic to get a first look at the completed artwork. Click HERE for more details.