"It's a club none of us wanted to join."
That's how Sabrina Doyle describes Storm Riders, a support group for families of people facing addiction.
Doyle, Eileen Cwienk, and Jackie Grimsey helped found the group with Kevin Doyle and Doug Cwienk. All have lost children to addiction.
Eileen Cwienk and Grimsey met at work.
"She had lost her daughter and my son was still alive, and I opened up to her," Cwienk recalled last week. "Nate [Cwienk's son] passed in July, 2017, and I had seen Sabrina who had just lost her son. She knew Nate."
As the three grew closer, they realized other families were also trying to cope with similar challenges.
"If you are in this situation, you need people around who understand what you're going through," Doyle said.
That became the premise for Storm Riders.
The name, chosen by Kevin Doyle, reflects the turmoil families face.
"You're up and down. You're riding a storm," Doyle said.
"It's a rough journey," Grimsey added. "You try to learn as much as you can as you go along. There are times when all you can do is listen with compassion and love."
Families who do not have a loved one fighting addiction have trouble grasping the problem.
"People who are not afflicted need to understand addiction is not a choice," Cwienk said.
"It's an illness. It's not a moral failing although we have been told that for years," Doyle added. "It's a disease and it's measurable on physical, medical, and spiritual levels.
It's not easy.
"It's a rough journey, but we can help make you stronger to get through it," Grimsey said. "We're not there to tell you a right way or a wrong way. But we can offer resources."
The members also advocate for recovery programs. "We know it works," Doyle said. "When they were in recovery, we got our children back. Not everyone loses the fight with addiction."
In addition to emotional support, the group also helps families deal with day-to-day challenges.
One that's becoming increasingly common is raising grandchildren.
"When our daughter passed, she had two children. Now we're raising our grandchildren and it's very difficult," Grimsey said. "I have to continue working so we can do that, but I wouldn't have it any other way."
There are also practicalities of living with a person trying to cope with addiction.
They range from learning how to administer Narcan to treat an overdose to getting a lock box to secure prescription drugs.
Getting that support is free.
"We leave the door open and anyone can come in," Cwienk said. "We understand how much of a problem that can be. You don't have to talk, you can just listen. We're good with that, and we don't pass judgement."
The group meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays at Memorial United Methodist Church, 101 S. Hess St., Quarryville. The next meeting will be on July 3.
"It's for anyone whose loved ones are facing addiction or who have lost someone to addiction," Cwienk said.