Duluth Bethel Shines Beacon of Hope

Beacon Lighting Helps Ring in New Year for Recovering Addicts

DULUTH, Minn.- The Duluth Bethel has been serving the Northland in different ways for 145 years.

On New Years Eve, they honored that legacy by having a dinner celebrating the lighting of their green beacon.

A small crowd of counselors, community members, and those being treated at the Bethel gathered for the small lighting ceremony.

The biting wind and chilling cold unable to cut through their joy and inspiration.

“There’s addicts in the street right now, and they can look up and see that there is hope, and it is good to be able to do that,” said Sarah Gorr, Sponsor and Counselor with Duluth Bethel.

The beacon has been lit every night for the past four years, when it was lit for the first time in 50 years.

On Monday, they rededicated the beacon, celebrating all it symbolizes.

Back in the early 1800s, the beacon would be lit for sailors and pilots coming in to the harbor.

“As a safe place for sailors and a place to get some spiritual temperance and a warm meal,” said Dennis Cummings, Executive Director.

The lack of radar technology back then meant they needed something bright and powerful to bring them home.

Then in the late 1800s to early 1900s, the homeless population increased in Duluth, which began the Bethel’s crusade helping recovering alcoholics and drug abusers find a new life.

Helping them find themselves.

“It has shown me a whole new life where I can help and show that there is life after addiction,” Gorr said, fighting back tears. She, like Cummings, is recovering herself. She has been through that same struggle.

“It makes it seem so real, and so reachable to addicts that come in the door that really want the help.”

On holidays like New Year’s Eve, most are focused on raucous celebration.

But for recovering drug and alcohol abusers, that’s exactly what they’re trying to avoid.

Experts at the Bethel say that the holidays can cause loneliness in recovering addicts, which can make staying sober, even harder.

“We’re so used to celebrating with drugs and alcohol, that that’s all we know,” said Laura Ziebell, sponsor and recovering addict. “So the first couple years being sober is the hardest  ’cause you don’t know how to be a different person and you’re leaving who you are.”

For those feeling down this New Year’s Eve, Duluth Bethel provides a safe and fun destination.

“A lot of the clubs will ramp up on Christmas and New Years Eve,” said Cummings. “They will stuff places and phones so people have access and safe places to go.”

The Bethel, which means “house of god” in Hebrew, has expanded their programs to include more controlled and street drug treatment.

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