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PHOTOS: Art auction raises nearly $15k to support addiction recovery in Pahrump

Living Free Health and Fitness is a local organization carrying out a crucial mission, assisting residents who are striving to break free from their addictions. Following a highly successful night of fundraising, the nonprofit is now better off by several thousands of dollars, all of which will go toward bolstering its operations in Pahrump and throughout rural Nevada.

Hosted Saturday, Nov. 4 inside the Pahrump Nugget Events Center, the 2nd Annual Art for Recovery auction and dinner kicked off at 5 p.m. with a preview of the many works of art that would later see the auction block. All donated masterpieces, the vast majority of the art featured that evening came from local painters in the Pahrump Valley Arts Council. In addition to paintings, there were a variety of other items up for auction, including a VIP Vegas Golden Knights package that drew much interest.

“I think the event went very well,” Living Free Health founder Shelley Poerio told the Pahrump Valley Times. “This year we were lucky enough to have a professional comedian, Ant, who was kind enough to donate his time and talent. Everyone seemed to really enjoy both his humor and his sincerity about the importance of recovery and programs like ours.”

In addition to the amusing entertainment from Ant, Art for Recovery included a slate of guest speakers, each with a moving and powerful story of recovery to share with the crowd.

The first was a client of Living Free’s that currently utilizes the women’s and children’s transitional living home. “She described her relapse and explained that when she recognized she needed help, she self-referred to the Pahrump Drug Court,” Poerio detailed. “She praised the women’s and children’s program for providing a safe space for her and her 7-year-old daughter to find stability, structure and support, and to get well and work on family reunification.”

The second speaker was a gentleman currently residing in Living Free’s men’s sober living home. “He described his journey through relapse, sobriety, relapse again, jail and his commitment to make it work this time, so he can get back to his family and supporting his family’s business,” Poerio remarked. “He explained about not having been to treatment but finding the Living Free program’s educational components and support critical to getting him on his feet and helping with external motivation to add to this internal motivation to succeed.”

The third speaker was a women who had lost everything when she spiraled into addiction but when she made the decision, with the support of her daughter, to seek help at Living Free, her life began to turn around. “She went into treatment and the housing program, progressed through treatment, started at the Living Free Cafe doing service work, was hired and works there now. She’s been able to save up money, get her license and government ID materials back, got a car, her own place, graduated and continues to work (and love) her job at Living Free Cafe,” Poerio said.

The final speaker was another gentleman who got involved with Living Free through the local Drug Court program. “He spoke about his traumatic childhood and losses that led to his addiction and history of incarceration,” Poerio noted. “He described how hard he worked riding a bicycle to Drug Court to meet his commitments and talked about acquiring work, completing Drug Court and our program and returning to live in Beatty. He also explained how it was important for him to accept and make use of the tools Living Free provides the clients.”

In recovery herself since Sept. 5, 2001, Poerio established Living Free Health in 2013 and by 2017, she had moved her base to the Pahrump Valley. Since then, she and her team have been working to expand the nonprofit so as to have the biggest impact possible and the organization now has both the Living Free Cafe and Living Free Gym as part of its portfolio.

While much of Living Free Health’s operations are paid for through grants and various other funding mechanisms, there are plenty of unfunded and underfunded services that could use some help. This is exactly why Art for Recovery was created and with more than 100 people in attendance Saturday night, the 2nd Annual Art for Recovery raised a total of $14,943. All of the money raised will now be used in covering expenses above and beyond Living Free’s regular funding sources.

As Poerio and her team know well, it takes community support to keep an organization like Living Free going strong and she was quick to share her gratitude for all of the sponsors and donors who contributed to the event.

Sponsorship packages were available and several local businesses took advantage of the opportunity to get their name out there while simultaneously supporting the Living Free cause. Platinum Sponsors were Pelican Psychiatry, Bolton Wine Group and Charleston Peak Winery. Classic Realty was the sole Gold Sponsor while Silver Sponsors included Tina Agoes with New American Funding, Karen Jackson with KNYE Radio and Paul Healey and Sons CPA. Lee McKenna with 775.1FYI, Desert View Hospital, Saitta Family Trust and Inspirations Senior Living rounded out the list as Table Sponsors.

The event could not have brought in so much money without the generous support of the donors who offered artwork and other prizes for the auction. Donors included Dave Bennett of Fidelity National Title, Lorde and Sheila Chancellor of Pahrump Valley Garage Door, Sherry Cipollini of Enhanced Aesthetics, John Myatt, Kalif Gordon of 2nd Amendment Guns and Accessories and Rampart Casino’s Hawthorn Grill.

Local artists whose work was featured in the auction include Charyl Madeline, Rachel D’Onofrio, Don Graham, Sandra Halsey, Jeannie King, Vicky Van Fleet, Jodi Sorteberg, Judy Strait and Arlene Cabus Poerio.

“Special thanks also go to Ski Censke and Estate Auctions 411, Soroptimist International Pahrump Valley, the Pahrump Valley Arts Council and the Pahrump Nugget/Golden Entertainment,” Poerio added.

Living Free Health and Fitness is located at 2050 N. Highway 160, Suites 600-700, behind the Horizon Market at Mesquite Avenue and Highway 160.

For more information visit LivingFreeHealth.org or call 775-505-1625.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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