By Adam Casadevall
George Gramby Day offered many attractions for kids on Saturday, including a bouncy castle, a jungle gym, and a mini train that ran around the Abbett Avenue playground.
But the thread that ran through the day was sobriety–and the support that those struggling with addiction can find in the surrounding community.
Morristown residents came together for the 21st year to honor the memory of George Gramby, founder of the substance abuse referral program called “Beginnings.”
Gramby sought treatment for his own substance abuse problems and knew that what he learned needed to be passed on.
“When he was sick, all he said was that he wanted to help save people’s lives,” said his sister Dawn. “He showed me what courage was about.”
Gramby passed away from AIDS in 1992, and the town, with the help of the George Gramby Observance Committee, honors his legacy with a day of fun in the sun and an awards ceremony, recognizing those who have demonstrated a desire to help others and who embody characteristics of the late substance abuse counselor.
This year’s humanitarian award winners included Councilwoman Toshiba Foster; Galindo King, clinical director of Freedom House, a halfway house in Glen Gardner; volunteer coach Jackie Cochran Peoples, and counselor Keith White.
Photos by Scott Schlosser. Please click icon below for captions.
Foster said the award reminded her that “I have to keep working hard.”
While she never actually met Gramby, Foster said they both shared the same passion, and she respected his dream and the work he did to help people achieve sobriety.
The councilwoman added that she never really was into politics. But “I wanted to make a difference,” she said.
Award recipient Keith White, who overcame substance abuse after more than two-and-a-half decades, said his message is a simple one: “Don’t go down the road I did.”
White appeared to be humbled by the honor, which had symbolic meaning for him. “I have to freely give back what was given to me,” he said.
Seven years ago, White came to Morristown and sought help at the Market Street Mission. “I’m just thankful, that’s all I can say.”
Her message is simple but difficult for some to live by.
Yet it holds the key to life itself, according to Gramby’s sister, Dawn.
“Whoever is losing it to drugs, remember what this day is about,” she said.
MG correspondent Adam Casadevall, a Morristown High School alumnus, graduated recently from Rutgers with a degree in journalism and media studies.