Fahe Member Spotlight: Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, Inc

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Fahe Annual Meeting 2019 Awards
September 10, 2019
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September 27, 2019
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As the opioid crisis continues to devastate Appalachia, the Fahe Network, which includes 50+ nonprofit organizations, is dedicated to providing services to those who are the most vulnerable. Fahe’s Strategic Programs has implemented the Kentucky Access to Recovery Program (KATR) and leads the Transformational Employment Program with DV8 and Addiction Recovery Care. The KATR program provides assistance to men and women recovering from opioid addiction. The program provides access to services such as housing, transportation, and childcare at no cost to those who are eligible. The Transformational Employment Program helps people in recovery secure meaningful employment. The program places individuals going through recovery into a six month paid internship with employers across the Kentucky counties of Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Pulaski, and Rockcastle. Once the internship is successfully completed, participants have the opportunity to transition into full-time employment.

Fahe Members also play a vital role in their communities by ensuring those who are seeking help in Appalachia have access to the services they need. Fahe Member Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, Inc. provides innovative services for those in recovery. Here is a success story from one of their recovery programs:

Journey to recovery
Liberty Place Recovery Center for Women

Rhonda is a spirited, beautiful, bright-eyed woman who has lived far beyond her years.  Her journey through addiction has been long and difficult, but through hard work, the gift of prayer and a lot of gratitude she has come out ahead.  Rhonda is humbled and proud to share her story of success to help others and to keep herself grounded and sober. 

Rhonda began using drugs in her early thirties; mainly to please her husband.  She drank a lot but didn’t think she had a problem.  “Looking back I realize I was a functioning alcoholic,” she said.  “I enjoyed it, but I also hid it from everyone.”  For years she maintained living this way.  Then she hit rock bottom.  One day Rhonda overdosed at work in front of people she supervised and worked with.  “I realized then that my drug use had progressed out of my control,” she said.  She remembers having to look her father and son in the eyes at the hospital and tell them what had happened.  She was devastated.  Her employer gave her two choices – resign or be fired.  Knowing she had to change her life, she resigned and immediately turned herself into probation.  She had been arrested previously for sneaking contraband into her husband in jail.  The court placed her on pretrial diversion – an alternate to prosecution if she met all of the conditions placed on her.  If she met all of the conditions, Rhonda would not have a conviction on her record.  She was requested to receive long-term recovery services at Liberty Place Recovery Center for Women.  At Liberty Place women suffering from alcoholism and/or drug addiction receive the tools they need to understand their disease, achieve sobriety, work on underlying problems, and learn to lead stable, productive lives. Located in Richmond, the program is part of the Recovery Kentucky Initiative and serves women in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District. 

When Rhonda first arrived at Liberty Place she didn’t think she could relate to anyone.  “I thought I was different,” she said. “I mean, I had worked and raised children.”  She soon found out she wasn’t as different as she thought she was.  “I knew there was always a problem with my thinking,” she said, “and I really wanted to find out why.”  A few weeks after entering the facility she remembers wishing she had sought help sooner.  Being at Liberty Place and talking to her family about her addictions helped release a huge weight she’d been carrying around for years.  “I didn’t have to live in darkness anymore,” said Rhonda.  She learned how to be honest, open minded, and willing.   While in the program, she worked as a Peer Mentor. Peer Mentors help other clients in the program, while actively participating in the program themselves.  “Everyone was so supportive.”  Rhonda credits the program, staff, her family and God for getting her this far. 

While at Liberty Place, Rhonda heard about a program where clients could gain experience and get paid to work on a local farm. 

Sustainable Berea is a group of residents of Berea and surrounding areas who work together to develop stronger households, neighborhoods and communities.  In 2017 Sustainable Berea partnered with Liberty Place to offer a job training program for recovering addicts called Harvesting Hope.  The four-week program strives to teach financial literacy, entrepreneurship, workplace expectations, building leadership and communication skills, and learning to use computers. The four women selected in each class also engage in paid work for the Berea Urban Farm which also works with the New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW).  The program is partially funded with a grant from the USDA and will run through the summer of 2019.  At its completion, more than 30 women will have been trained. After the ladies complete the program, Harvesting Hope will follow them for five years, tracking their progress with a database they have set up, as well as to track the businesses in the area who are willing to employ people with criminal convictions.

“As soon as I heard about this program I was interested,” said Rhonda.  “I wanted to learn how to work in a garden and how to grow my own food.”  Like other program applicants, Rhonda filled out a questionnaire, obtained a letter of recommendation from a staff member and interviewed for the job.  “I was so excited when I learned I had been chosen,” she said.  Rhonda was in the pioneer group and unsure what to expect.  “Every day was so new and different,” she said. She especially loved the mini sessions taught by the NOSW.   Esteem building, goal setting and jewelry making were her favorite classes.  As time went on Rhonda began to flourish.  “I loved working outside in the dirt.  There’s just something special about working in nature that’s so relaxing.”  Rhonda said that her biggest takeaway from the program was that it opened her eyes that she doesn’t have to settle for a bad job when she leaves Liberty Place.  “They told me I can be an entrepreneur,” she said, “and I believe them.  They taught me to follow my dreams.  Sure, I’ll have to start at the bottom and work my way up.  Even though I’ve messed up, my life isn’t over.  It’s just beginning.” Today Rhonda dreams of becoming a pilot, something she’s always wanted even if it’s just a hobby.  “Being in this program has opened my eyes that anything is possible!”. 

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