“Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity” – Brené Brown.

Humans are wired for compassion. We seek to give it and yearn to receive it. True compassion flourishes when we understand how our struggles connect to the larger human experience. Hope Horizons: Navigating Recovery for Arizona Families, an event hosted by Prevent Child Abuse Arizona in partnership with the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, is bringing this principle to life through a series of regional institutes aimed at professionals supporting families and communities.

The first of these institutes took place in Lake Havasu on April 30, drawing over 70 dedicated professionals, 75% from Mohave County. These individuals gathered not just to learn but also to forge connections and share insights across three engaging workshop blocks.

The event kicked off with an inspiring keynote address by Dr. Tunette Powell from the Children’s Equity Project, who poignantly shared her journey of growing up with a father battling substance use disorder. Her story set the tone for a day filled with powerful conversations and transformative learning.

Workshops tackled critical issues head-on, fostering open dialogue about stigma and equipping attendees with new perspectives and strategies. One standout session featured mothers who have faced substance use disorders, providing invaluable insights into the barriers they encountered and their paths to success. This session resonated deeply, with one participant noting, “Hearing directly from these mothers helped us gain a compassionate perspective on their struggles and triumphs.”

Another attendee reflected on the broader impact, saying, “The workshops allowed us to connect on a big level. It shows that no matter our differences, values, or beliefs, we all have a way to connect if we find it.” Such moments underscored the event’s core message of shared humanity and interconnectedness.

Participants left the Institute with a renewed sense of purpose and gratitude, particularly appreciating the event’s reach into their rural community. Many expressed excitement about applying their newfound knowledge, with commitments to “be more aware of my biases and remember that these families are human and not just ‘cases.'”

Collectively, the attendees serve an estimated 1,662 families annually. The insights, tools, and connections gained at Hope Horizons are poised to impact these families profoundly, fostering more empathetic and supportive environments. By transforming professional approaches to substance use disorders, Hope Horizons demonstrates that when we come together with empathy and understanding, we can truly make a difference in our communities.