Annual rally marks the joy and struggle of recovery

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023

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Last Friday night, a solemn event was commemorated in Winchester as the 8th Annual Rally4Recovery event took place.

As advertised, Rally4Recovery is dedicated to bringing people together touched by substance use disorder and mental health struggles, honoring those who have been lost and celebrating recovery.

JuaNita Everman, a volunteer with Celebrate Recovery and missions outreach director with Calvary Christian Church, served as event director.

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“We’ve got a good turnout,” Everman said. “We’ve got a lot of good resources here. We’ve got a lot of good speakers here.”

Various organizations dedicated to assisting others were found along Main Street.

They included Celebrate Recovery, Recovery Community Center, Clark County Community Services, New Day Recovery Center, Yonder Behavioral Health, Kentucky Rural Healthcare Information Organization, Mountain Comprehensive Care Center, KYNect Health Coverage, Perfect Imperfections, New Vista, New Beginnings, Pinnacle Treatment Centers, and the Clark County Homeless Coalition.

DeNova Behavioral Health, who – in their slogan – pledges to provide happiness, hope, and healing – were present.

Not only that, but Athena, a therapy dog in training, came along.

“There’s a practitioner that comes in once a week and provides medically assisted treatment for folks struggling with substance abuse. We also have a psychiatric nurse practitioner to prescribe psychotropic [medicine] for folks that are struggling with mental illness,” said Kay Hubbard, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). “[Athena] is able to help folks. She’s disarming and able to help folks feel really engaged and connected quickly.”

Just as well, the Kentucky State Police (KSP) appeared with its mobile substance abuse education trailer where others could be taught about the negative impacts of substance abuse.

The trailer debuted in 2019 after KSP received a grant from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, which operates the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (KY-ASAP).

“It’s not just drugs. There’s also paint thinners and wasp spray that some people are using nowadays in order to get high,” KSP Trooper Adam Quiles said. “We have different programs here that can help people with addiction.”

Among them is the Angel Initiative, which helps KSP place individuals into treatment programs.

In addition to Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed and Clark County Judge-Executive Les Yates, the event featured several guest speakers.

Tara Mosely Hyde, CEO of People Advocating Recovery, was one of them.

She advocated for working alongside others in their attempts toward recovery.

“Every time somebody is making decisions about people in recovery, and they don’t include the families and the allies and the people with lived experience, that’s going to create just one more barrier and one more challenge,” Hyde said. “Participate in the process, participate in your community, and be an example of what recovery looks like.”

Jerod Thomas, former Marshall University football player and current president and CEO of The Shepherd’s House, also spoke, emotionally recalling his struggle with substance use disorder.

“The disease we have is the loneliest disease on earth. You will be lying there with every bad decision you’ve ever made. You will be alone, and it is a terrible place to be,” Thomas said. “[However] it is the first day of the rest of your life and the only way to do that is to become a team member.”

Bruce Manley, the current campus director for the Bluegrass Community & Technical College’s Winchester location, spoke about matters including fair chance employment opportunities.

“Data shows that people that have a good job are better at recovery long-term than if you’re unemployed,” Manley said. “I’m here to advocate for not only people to look at getting a job and getting an education to get a better job through BCTC but also for employers to hire more people in recovery.”

Indeed, not least, the event included a cardboard testimony ceremony.

As the music played in the background, those who were recognizing their recovery journey stood before the audience with cardboard, poster board, and more, featuring pictures and statements showing their journey to success.

“There’s just something different that happens emotionally, and you realize how much things have changed and where you started and where you are now,” said Lindsay Horseman, the director of recovery community services at Recovery Community Center.

It’s a sentiment that many can agree on.

“One of the things that I think is most transformative is just watching [people] get their life back,” Hubbard added.