Serving Nonprofits. Strengthening West Virginia.

Nonprofits, philanthropy have major role in drug abuse fight, execs say

By on November 7, 2014 in News
Mike Cavendish, a former president of the Beckley Area Foundation Board of Directors, receives an award from BAF Board President Hazel Burroughs, hidden, and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation Program Officer Kim Tieman as Philanthropy West Virginia President and CEO Paul Daughtery, far right, joins in during the luncheon awards ceremony at the 2014 Philanthropy West VirginiaAnnual Conference at TheResort at Glade Springs.Chris Jackson/The Register-Herald

Mike Cavendish, a former president of the Beckley Area Foundation Board of Directors, receives an award from BAF Board President Hazel Burroughs, hidden, and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation Program Officer Kim Tieman as Philanthropy West Virginia President and CEO Paul Daughtery, far right, joins in during the luncheon awards ceremony at the 2014 Philanthropy West VirginiaAnnual Conference at TheResort at Glade Springs.Chris Jackson/The Register-Herald

By Jessica Farrish REGISTER-HERALD REPORTER

Nonprofit organizations and philanthropic business owners are key pieces of the solution to an ever-growing drug addiction problem in the state, said Booth Goodwin, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, Thursday.

Goodwin spoke at The Resort at Glade Springs, addressing representatives of  nonprofit and for-profit companies and concerns at the 2014 Philanthropy West Virginia annual conference, “Game Changers in the Mountain State.”

Margaret O’Neal, executive director of United Way of Southern West Virginia, and Tammy Jordan, CEO of Fruits of Labor in Greenbrier County, joined Goodwin to report on the overwhelming strain and cost of addiction to children, adults, law enforcement and school systems.

O’Neal reported that 47 percent of children in McDowell County are in foster care and that one in two babies born at Welch Hospital tests positive for a drug, along with one in three babies born throughout southern West Virginia.

According to Goodwin, the illegal narcotic heroin is rapidly replacing prescription painkillers on West Virginia streets, presenting an even greater overdose danger than the pills because the drug’s potency is not standard.

The three panelists talked about the steps their organizations are taking to curb the problem and its impacts on addicts and the community.

“To have a true, long-lasting impact on addiction, on the drug problem substance abuse in general, I’m absolutely convinced we have to be just as much about prevention, treatment and recovery as we are about enforcement,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin reported that his agency has launched an initiative, Defending Childhood, which will enhance communication between law enforcement and local schools in an effort to help educators better understand and meet the needs of at-risk children.

Rather than treating a distracted child as a disciplinary problem, the educators will better understand the struggles at home.

“The centerpiece is called ‘Handle with Care,’” said Goodwin. “The idea is (that) when law enforcement officers encounter a child during a drug raid, domestic violence situation … if they acquire a child or see any indication of a child, they … write down the child’s name, where they go to school and they get that information to the school the next morning.”

Goodwin said that in the past year, officers have sent 323 notifications concerning 611 children to schools in the Charleston area and that initiative is now going statewide and, possibly, nationwide.

The initiative could include on-site mental health counseling for children and their families, said Goodwin.

He said philanthropy plays a crucial role in addressing the gaps in child care, employment and family budgets that are created by drug abuse.

According to O’Neal, the United Way began to operate “baby pantries” in each of the seven counties served after they learned that parents were re-using disposable diapers for infants. The pantries allow parents of children a year and younger to come in one day per month to get diapers.

“(The parents) are certainly doing the wrong thing with their money,” said O’Neal. “The fact is, that baby has no control of how the parents spend the money.”

She said her agency is working on a plan to get parents involved in counseling, education and employment programs.

As the teen pregnancy rate continues to climb in southern West Virginia, even as the numbers of pregnant teens decline nationally, O’Neal’s group takes a doll into local schools, day report centers and prisons to teach students and parents about addiction.

The doll is programmed to produce cries and tremors that mimic those of an addicted newborn, said O’Neal.

She added that United Way also has similar dolls, including a “fetal alcohol syndrome” model and has urged state legislators to address the rising cost of higher education.

The agency also provides programs and educational materials to help children with attitudes and emotions and to encourage wise decision-making.

“For United Way, the foremost piece of work has been with children,” said O’Neal. “We must stop the cycle.

“It all comes back to the cycle of poverty, in my opinion.”

Jordan established a re-entry program for addicts through her business, Fruits of Labor, in Dawson, after visiting the federal women’s prison at Alderson in 2009.

“I saw something I hated to see, and that was the hopelessness in the eyes of women,” Jordan said. “I thought (that) I need to do something different, to motivate and inspire women.”

With input from the Greenbrier County drug court system, Jordan established and expanded a culinary training program for women in 2013, which initially served 10 women. She’s currently developing collaborative partnerships with social service and law enforcement agencies and expanding it into a co-ed program that will serve qualified drug court clients.

Of the 10 initial enrollees, eight graduated from and have since completed drug court, said Jordan.

The 16-week program trained women in farm-to-table food preparation, allowing them to pick and prepare foods from the Fruits of Labor farm. When they graduated from the program, they had state and national certifications in food safety and preparation and learned from The Greenbrier and other celebrity chefs.

They also received counseling.

The program built confidence and provided fellowship for the women as they were weaned from addiction and focused on re-entering society. The program celebrated individuals’ milestones, according to statements made by Jordan.

“(A)ny step towards recovery is a huge step,” said Jordan.

On Dec. 23, the women graduated from the program and received chef’s jackets and a Christmas dinner to serve to their families at home.

Jordan recently opened a cafe in Rainelle that provides year-long apprenticeship opportunities for those in the Fruits of Labor program.

Goodwin said his wife, West Virginia Division of Commerce Commissioner Amy Shuler Goodwin, recommends the bread at the Rainelle cafe, which is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

Philanthropy West Virginia Inc. CEO Paul Daugherty said the drug abuse seminar of the 2014 conference provided valuable insights into the drug crisis.

“It was an extremely valuable session with tactical ideas and strategies that are underway right now to tackle the drug crisis on multiple levels,” said Daugherty. “The inspiration from Tammy, Booth and Margaret Ann are a lot of good steps people can take action on.”

The conference was held Wednesday and Thursday at Glade Springs Resort in Daniels, and Daugherty said Beckleyans were “extremely hospitable.”

Originally published by The Register-Herald

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

Subscribe

Enter your email address below to receive future updates like this one from WVNPA, including our monthly newsletter, as well as News Briefs and Action Alerts.

Comments are closed.

Top