BERLIN – A longtime Ocean City resident and his friend will launch a donation drive to collect athletic gear and art and music supplies for those in recovery.
On April 27, Sober and Stoked, an organization founded by longtime Ocean City resident Eugene Stiltner and his best friend Scott French, will launch a pilot program for its “Gear Donation Drives on the Eastern Shore.”
As part of the program, the group will be collecting athletic and artistic gear – such as surfboards, snowboards, bikes, instruments and art supplies – and donating them to Hope4Recovery and Hudson Health, local recovery houses in Worcester and Wicomico counties.
“We wanted to do something that gave back,” Stiltner said, “and we saw a need in halfway houses and sober living houses.”
Stiltner – who lived in Ocean City for 17 years – said he and French became friends in active addiction and helped each other maintain their sobriety through sports such as surfing and snowboarding.
“For both of us, when we got sober, it was so important to go surfing, go snowboarding, and just be active and live a healthy lifestyle, to have some level of replacement from the craziness of addiction,” he said. “It was a source of positivity for us. It drove us both.”
Now, years later, the friends want to offer that same opportunity to others in recovery. A year and a half ago, Stiltner and French established Sober and Stoked and produced a 42-minute documentary directed by local photographer Nick Tribuno entitled “6 Gifts.”
The film stars six professional and amateur athletes that have used their respective sports to overcome addiction and maintain their sobriety.
“We released that last year,” Stiltner said, “and we knew we wanted to have an even bigger mission.”
The group applied for nonprofit status in November and, due to delays from the government shutdown, will not hear anything until later this summer. But Stiltner said they are not letting that stop them from launching the pilot program.
“We wanted to give back to an area that gave a lot to us …,” he said. “We really wanted to do something to help the folks in the area.”
“It has been a dream of ours to continue to find a way to give something back to those that are battling addiction, or are in the often-fragile stage of early sobriety where the smallest setback can lead the person back into addiction,” he said in a statement. “Both Eugene and I are committed to creating something with a lasting impact that can help people see how exciting sobriety can be.”
Sober and Stoked is seeking lightly used, adult-sized athletic gear, books and DVDs related to surfing and watersports, bicycling, yoga, weightlifting and fitness, fishing and traditional sports (baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, etc.). The organization is also looking to collect art supplies and musical instruments.
“We call this program rediscovering a lost passion or finding a new purpose,” Stiltner said. “That’s really the core tenets of Sober and Stoked.”
Those wishing to make a donation can contact Stiltner at 443-370-3334, or visit the Sober and Stoked Facebook page to send a message. Organizers will pick up items in Worcester and Wicomico counties on Saturday, April 27, and divide them equally among the recovery houses.
“We are hoping to have a drop-off point organized too,” he said, noting that more information will be posted on their social media pages.
While this month’s drive will benefit recovery houses in Worcester and Wicomico counties, Stiltner said the goal is to expand the program in the coming years.
“We feel like we have something special here,” he said. “We feel like it’s a true value to the people in the houses, and we feel like it can help people on a large scale.”
For more information on Sober and Stoked, visit soberandstoked.com or the organization’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Funds raised from the group’s documentary, which will be available on Amazon Prime and the Sober and Stoked website, will support nonprofit-related expenses.
“Scott and I want to make a positive impact,” Stiltner said. “We took a lot in our addiction, and I feel like we are giving back. You can’t make everything right that you did, but you can try hard to turn things around and help others.”