Palm Beach Society: CARP's luncheon speaker bears 'Witness' to joys of sobriety

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A powerful presentation by Golden Globe nominee Kelly McGillis highlighted the annual Spring Luncheon to benefit the Comprehensive Alcoholism Rehabilitation Programs (CARP).

The event took place April 11 at the Four Seasons Resort.

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Although in COVID-19 limbo for 2020 and 2021, the pandemic had a quirky benefit for the event: Isolation-weary supporters were so happy at the prospect of human contact that the luncheon far outsold any of its previous incarnations.

The Rev. Harold Ray, event chairman, opted to extend the pre-luncheon reception to give chatty guests time to catch up.

Supporters began the afternoon with a reception in The Living Room — which also included the opportunity to mingle with the guest speaker — then moved upstairs to the Royal Poinciana Ballroom at noon for remarks from Ray, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, and CARP Board President Kelly V. Landers.

Aronberg spoke about his progress on the front lines of the opioid crisis, and in leading the Sober Homes Task Force, which has made some 115 arrests for patient brokering and insurance fraud in the addiction treatment industry. He advocated for treatment over incarceration where appropriate, saying “addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing.”

Landers reminded the crowd that "Although the acute phase of COVID has ended, our work within the community, to help economically vulnerable alcoholics and addicts, has just begun."

The afternoon continued with lunch and guest speaker McGillis, who shared a powerful personal story of her battle with addiction. McGillis, a graduate of The Juilliard School, is known for her performances in "Top Gun," "The Accused," and "Witness," for which she received a Golden Globe nomination.

More than 300 people attended, including Alan Johnson, chief assistant state attorney for Palm Beach County; advisory board member and retired Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputy chief Mike Gauger; Tiffany & Co.'s Travis Husk; Janice Palmer of jeweler Graff; board members Park Miller and Bill DeMott; and John Hulick, Patty Dean and Mo Maynor DeMott.

Funds raised from the Spring Luncheon will support the CARP Residential Programs for Recovery, which provide treatment for the economically vulnerable.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Twice-postponed Spring Luncheon unites recovery community, supporters