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High Watch Recovery Center celebrates 80 years with Russell Brand

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(KENT, CT – September 21, 2019) – High Watch Recovery Center celebrated its 80th year at its annual picnic for alumni and friends on September 21.


Over 2,200 people attended the picnic, which featured actor, comedian and recovery activist Russell Brand. Brand spoke for nearly an hour giving an inspired talk about his own struggles with addiction.

“We were thrilled that Russell was able to join us. His talk was both entertaining and inspiring,” said Jerry Schwab, President and CEO of High Watch. “He understands the challenge of recovery and our guests could really relate to him.”

Brand was happy to inject his commitment to recovery, along with this sense of humor, to the event. “I was honoured to speak at the historic High Watch Picnic. For me it was a pilgrimage to the birthplace of modern recovery. With sandwiches.”

For decades, High Watch has held an annual picnic as a gesture of appreciation to its alumni and the AA community in the Connecticut and New York areas. This year’s event with Brand as the featured speaker was the most attended ever. The featured speaker in 2018 was former baseball all-star Darryl Strawberry, who spoke before a crowd of over 1,600.

The picnic was also the launch of a new video capturing the history of High watch through the words of Marty Mann delivered at the recovery center’s 25 year anniversary. That video can be seen HERE.

“Our alumni and the AA community are everything to us,” Schwab said. “We believe that your membership in the High Watch family doesn’t end when you discharge.

High Watch has an active Alumni Relations department which hosts alumni dinners, events, and social gatherings across the region. The effort is headed by Alumni Relations Coordinator Jenn Worthington. She points to the alumni network as being important in people’s recovery. “We have an active network that supports one another through meetings, our events, and through a very energetic social media community.”

High Watch Recovery Center was founded in 1939 by Bill Wilson and Marty Mann, among other prominent figures in the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. High Watch was and is the first substance abuse treatment center in the world founded on the Twelve Step principles of AA. Learn more about High Watch Recovery Center at



Jason Perillo
VP of Communications

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