A recent event brought together local leaders who are interested in building a stronger recovery community.
On April 3rd, Hazard Community & Technical College (HCTC) hosted a special, one-day forum intended to bring together those who support recovery from opiate addiction through employment, education, housing, and health. Called "Building Recovery Oriented Communities: A Stakeholder Summit," KRCC was well-represented at the event by staff members of our Substance Abuse programs and our primary care clinics.
"Recovery is about community and healing. It's a process about moving forward in life, about change and growth," said Sharon Hesseltine, the president and CEO of Intentional Beginnings, which is a consulting and training company in Louisville focused on helping women in recovery become more effective parents.
The goal of the event, according to Hesseltine, was to encourage collaboration between community-based, faith-based, and other grassroots organizations and local leaders to build more recovery-oriented communities and improved systems of care.
"The folks at Kentucky River Community Care helped immensely (with coordinating the event), and we thank you for that," Hesseltine added.
The forum included presentations, a panel discussion, stories from people in long-term recovery, and work groups designed to develop a plan of action. While the event highlighted agencies that support recovery, it also united those agencies and programs with the broader community.
"We all need to work together," said State Representative Chris Fugate, who is also the pastor of Gospel Light Church in Hazard. Fugate, a former state police officer, has been very active in the recovery community and has been credited with bringing many addicts into lives of healing and sobriety.
"It's amazing what can happen when people give you the space to shine," said Hesseltine, who pointed out how difficult it often is for recovering addicts to reclaim their lives. "It's hard to take those first steps in a small community."
But KRCC's Jennifer Erwin, who now directs all of KRCC's recovery programs, reminded all stakeholders of the services KRCC makes available to people in the region.
"At KRCC, we offer a lot of addiction treatment services, but we don't want to focus just on the treatment," she said during her presentation. "We support their treatment and their long-term growth by providing them education, housing, employment, community support, and spiritual growth."
"We don't want to use a cookie cutter recovery/counseling system," she continued. "We want to meet each client's individual needs."
“If a person walks in, we want to offer them anything they may need under one roof. I’m blessed to be a part of an agency that does that.”Jennifer Erwin
Erwin went on to describe how KRCC provides the treatment aspect of Drug Court and offered details on the agency's addiction programs and services. She also announced that New Directions, KRCC's intensive outpatient program for men, has expanded to Lee and Owsley counties.
Brad Boyington, a former client at Hickory Hill Recovery Center, also spoke at the event. Since leaving Hickory Hill, Boyington has established his own construction company that routinely hires addicts in recovery.
"One thing about addicts is that when they get into recovery, they have a hard time finding work," he said.
"There aren't a lot of people who will give them a chance."
For those interested, the Commonwealth Educational Opportunity Center keeps an updated list of jobs that will hire former felons.
Boyington, who spoke about also being helped by Pastor Chris Fugate, encouraged the region's recovery programs to work more closely with the faith-based community.
"We have to fix our reputations by our actions," he added.
Boyington is a firm example that recovery happens and that it should be supported by the community at large.
“Recovery is invisible. We don’t see it, (but it happens). (By being here today), we want to sit in the solution – not the problem.”Sharon Hesseltine
Similar forums are being planned for other locations across the state.