VINTON — State and federal officials, the faith-based community and Gallia County leaders joined at the Field of Hope Community Campus location Wednesday for the groundbreaking ceremony of a new 15-bed recovery house.
The structure on State Route 160 is slated to provide local women with a safe place to live and work through chemical dependence recovery while receiving counseling and training in life and job skills.
Heath Jenkins, pastor of Vinton Baptist Church and president of the Field of Hope Community Campus board of directors, started the ceremony by introducing those assembled and some of the history of the location. Next, Kevin Dennis, executive director of Field of Hope, spoke to those assembled.
“It takes more than just the church, just law enforcement or medical facilities,” Jenkins said. “It takes businesses, it takes a community. We’re all going to have to pull together to get a handle on this problem.”
Jenkins referred to the epidemic of drug addiction in southeast Ohio. Field of Hope Community Campus sits at the location of the old North Gallia High School. Field of Hope’s members seeks to use the campus as a tool in providing workforce education for county members, a food pantry distribution center and a potential drug addiction rehabilitation therapy program using faith-based methods.
State and federal officials appeared from the offices of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, state Rep. Ryan Smith, Congressman Bill Johnson, Sen. Rob Portman, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Gallipolis Municipal Court.
Judy Jones, secretary of Field of Hope, introduced the organization’s first full-time rehabilitation counselor, Amber Richards, to a standing ovation.
Ultimately, the new recovery house aims to give women a new shot in life.
“When we asked for RSVP’s (for the event), I had no idea we’d get this many,” Dennis told the Daily Tribune. “I’m just excited to see the community behind this effort to turn the drug culture around. I don’t know how many people know this, but our area of southeast Ohio, we’re, per capita, in the worst area of Ohio for opiate consumption. Usually, Gallia, Scioto and Jackson (counties) are one, two and three in the state. There is no place, in my heart, that needs this more than Gallia County. We’re making the first step and we actually have plans for multiple residencies. This is just the first one. If it all works, we’ll have more than one. Six is what our plan calls for eventually.”
The main building, the old high school facility, still has yet to reach completion in terms of rehabilitation, however, it has seen new windows installed, a new metal roof and more to come. Dennis said despite this victory, there is more to do in getting new facilities off the ground, more funds to collect and grants for which to apply. He is optimistic for the future in combating and “turning around the drug culture.”
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.