Utah County Sheriff's Office manages nature's growth in Provo Canyon 01

From Left, Joseph Carle, Deputy Nich Friedrichsen and Deputy Richard Carle, all with the Utah County's Sheriff's office, check out an area where a homeless camp was recently cleared at Mount Timpanogos Park on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Provo Canyon, Utah. The sheriff's office has worked to clear trees and and brush to reduce transient camping and wild fires. (Natalie Behring, special to the Daily Herald)

Addicts Fighting Back, a local organization founded by Jason DeGraw, is giving back to the community in a special project to feed the homeless.

Area residents are invited to participate in a special soup dinner event for the homeless at 4 p.m. Sunday at Pioneer Park in Provo, at 500 West and Center Street.

Addicts Fighting Back will be serving up warm homemade soup and handing out sleeping bags, hand warmers, hygiene kits and other items.

“We have been going to the park every Sunday for the past month to help the homeless with warm clothes and food,” DeGraw said in an email. “We are teaming up with Addict to Athlete for this event.”

DeGraw said Addicts Fighting Back is trying to spread the word that they are here to help the homeless in any way they can and said the group will continue to show up on Sundays to help provide the things that individuals may need.

“A close friend of mine passed away due to exposure to the cold about a month ago here in Provo,” DeGraw said. “We are just trying to spread the word that we are here to help keep them safe and warm.

Addicts Fighting Back is a group of individuals uniting to fight back against the disease of addiction while building connections with each other and the community.

DeGraw, a recovering heroin addict, started Addicts Fighting Back on May 26, while he was in treatment for substance abuse.

“I felt like treatment was such a small part of recovery. I’ve seen many people graduate treatment, and never see them again,” DeGraw said. “It’s like they get done with treatment and have no support after they graduate. So I had an idea to start a Facebook group and try to keep the connection with people who can relate to what I’m going through the best.”

Since the group started back in May the Facebook group now has over 2,000-plus members.

“It grew so fast that I couldn’t keep up with it all. So I asked AFB members for help,” DeGraw said in an email. “I asked the most active people in the group if they wanted to have a bigger part in AFB.”

The group now have a board of directors that consist of nine people. They meet twice a month for a board meeting to go over upcoming events, share ideas and interests. They are currently working on becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation.

“Six months ago I didn’t know any of those people, they were complete strangers to me. By taking a risk and getting out of my comfort zone I have built strong connections with each one of them. It has saved my life,” DeGraw said.

The group gives addicts in recovery a place to connect with those who understand the hardship of addiction, according to McGraw.

“We are active in community service projects like helping those less fortunate,” McGraw said in an email.

The group also participates in addiction awareness events like overdose awareness, Salt Lake City and Utah County recovery day as well.

For information on Addicts Fighting Back, email addictsfightingback@gmail.com

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter

@gpugmire

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