More than 300 men from a variety of backgrounds and ranging in age from Baby Boomers to Generation Z engaged in a multitude of activities on Thursday at Crown Recovery Center.

Some shot pool in a throwback gymnasium on the former campus of St. Catharine College. Others ate lunch while feeding their brains with books. A few participated in counseling classes. A couple pumped iron, rotating the roles of spotter and bench-presser. Some of them listened to a speaker break down into understandable terminology what “Phase I” means. A handful logged some cardiovascular exercise on a walking track. And a little more than a dozen absorbed Biblical knowledge from a pastor who deals with his own addiction demons.

Crown isn’t a place of misery, although every single person who currently calls himself a resident has experienced loads of hardship — whether self-inflicted or out of his control — throughout life.

What you see at Crown, which is an Addiction Recovery Care facility, isn’t just a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a life at the end of the tunnel. It’s evident in the residents’ faces.

On Thursday, the residents didn’t try to conceal themselves because of embarrassment. Many appeared free of fear, which has undoubtedly plagued them in the past. They greeted elected officials, media members, ARC staff and others with a smile. They were cordial and welcoming — a far cry from who they were at rock bottom.

They’re working toward recovery. They are willingly receiving treatment.

Will they all reach the conclusion of the program, land a respectable job and never look back? Of course not. But they’re trying, at least for the moment, to become better people.

The least the rest of us can do is show compassion.

If Our Lady of Bellefonte becomes the next “Crown,” let’s at least agree to do that.

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