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'I thought my life was doomed': Sumter residents celebrate hope, sobriety at Recovery Fest

The long-term recovery center in Sumter is hosting Recovery Fest this weekend for current residents and alumni of the program. It's expecting about 300 attendees.

SUMTER, S.C. — A long-term recovery center in Sumter is hosting Recovery Fest this weekend for alumni and current residents to celebrate their sobriety.

Twenty-five years ago this month, Dennis Wormsley opened Any Length Recovery Center. The facility aims to help those with addictions on their path to sober living.

"So many memories. Everything just washes over you at one time. It’s overwhelming," Wormsley said about what he's feeling during this milestone anniversary.

Now, he’s getting ready for this weekend’s Recovery Fest.  

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Alumni who have graduated from the program are coming in to meet with current residents who are working to get sober.

"We love having folks come in during Recovery Fest because we get to - they get to - see that there’s life after stopping using and after coming out of actively using and active addiction," Wormsley said. "There’s life and there’s fun."

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That’s what resident Elizabeth Plunkett is looking forward to the most.

"I’m really excited to see people who have been through the program come back and kinda show us that we can do it when we get outta here," Plunkett said. "That it’s possible."

For resident Patrice Mulvey, it didn’t always feel that way. She entered the facility seven months ago. Mulvey now feels hope.

"It’s really amazing. It really is," Mulvey said. "Like, I really didn’t think this was gonna happen for me. 'Cuz I thought my life was, like, doomed. Like, I wasn’t gonna be happy."

Wormsley said that this feeling is typical for people coming into the center for help.

"They’re homeless, they’re jobless, they’ve lost everything," he said. "So, you know, when they first get here, it’s like there’s no real basis for hope that anything is gonna get better."

But seeing their mindset change as they realize there's hope is the ultimate reward.

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"When you catch them laughing, it’s the greatest because when they came, there was really nothing to laugh at when they got here," Wormsley said.

Mulvey said she’s excited to celebrate her newfound happiness by grilling burgers and listening to speakers talk about their shared experiences. 

"When we celebrated things on the outs, we were we always drinking and, you know, using drugs and these things, but I don’t think we really understood what 'celebrate' meant," Plunkett said.

Now, she's hoping to redefine that word.

Recovery Fest starts on Friday night and runs through the weekend. The center is expecting about 300 people to attend.

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