AUGUSTA — Organizers of Recover Out Loud hope the event will celebrate recovery from addiction, as well as raise funds for a proposed new recovery center in Augusta intended to serve all of Kennebec County.

Recover Out Loud is scheduled for Thursday, International Recovery Day, at the riverside Mill Park in Augusta. It will feature live music onsite from North Woods Outlaws, The Young Swagg and Treelock, as well as a concert by renowned recording artist Macklemore that will be live-streamed to the site from Las Vegas.

While fun is clearly on the program, the serious business of drug overdose deaths underlies the initiative.

At the event, scheduled for 5 to 10 p.m., plentiful information will be available for people in recovery. Through donations from visitors, the organizers want to help create the Augusta Recovery Re-entry Center, which they say will provide a space for people in recovery — plus those who care about them.

Lethal drug overdoses have spiked during the coronavirus pandemic. Courtney Allen, policy director of the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project and a host of Recover Out Loud, said the fallout from COVID-19 has been especially hard on people in recovery. She noted that some churches and other gathering places have been closed, making it harder for people in recovery to find help and encouragement.

“COVID is a serious pandemic, but so are overdoses,” Allen said. “We’ve seen overdoses skyrocket. Connection is key to recovery. So this center, I think, will help with that. It will truly be a place for connection and community.”

Thanks in part to recent collections by volunteers in Augusta and Gardiner, $20,000 has already been raised to support the center’s first year of operations.

The facility would be a joint project of four organizations: the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project, Young People in Recovery, the Maine Prisoner Re-entry Network and Fresh Out Sober Living. The groups will have offices at the center, adjacent to meeting, training and gathering spaces for a range of recovery-related groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Recovery coaches are expected to be on-site as needed.

It will not be a treatment center, nor will it provide housing for patients in recovery; but people eligible for such services can get help from staff at the center. It is expected to open at 2 Bangor Street in Augusta.

“Hopefully (the center) will help keep people from dying,” said Bruce Noddin, founder and executive director of the Maine Prisoner Re-entry Project, a nonprofit that helps people transition into society from prisons and mental health institutions. He added that the center will be a place “to show (people with substance use disorder) that there is an alternative, and there are people in the community who have turned that corner.”

Allen, who was in Las Vegas Tuesday to help Macklemore’s concert get streamed to the Augusta site, said she expects a one-of-a-kind event. The program includes live music, speakers sharing their stories about recovery, some 30 tables with information on recovery, and various food trucks.

The gathering is free to attend, but donations are encouraged.

There are recovery centers in the state, such as the Portland Recovery Community Center and the Bangor Area Recovery Network, but Allen said there are none in Augusta or Kennebec County.

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