XENIA — From what is best described as the “front lines of a war,” a consortium of advocates, agencies, ministries, professionals and recovery based-movements converged Saturday night in Xenia, with one common theme in mind: “Enough is enough!”
With more than 200 recovery-minded people in attendance – with recovering addicts and alcoholics of all sects and fellowships, family members of addicts, ministers and recovery missionaries as well recovery professionals striving on the so-called “front lines” in the war against this drug epidemic centered in the Miami Valley – the gathering was successful in creating a common ground for the slew of community resources, information, and fellowshipping opportunities that came together to “ fight this war of addiction together,” with one common mind.
“There was an overwhelming message of unity and community – getting our boots on the ground, on the so-called ‘front line’ to fight,” said recovering addict Ric Matteoli, who in the last year turned his life around and found purpose in the rapidly-growing recovery movement in the Greene County area. “This was huge, everyone coming together; it’s like enough is enough!”
Matteoli and others completely credit God for their transformations, saying that’s simply “how it works.”
Treatment centers and community resources as well as local recovery ministries like those at Lighthouse Baptist Church are instrumental in this boom alongside the very active and energized fellowships of the different local, yet anonymous, 12-step programs.
“We want to encourage people, families. Don’t give up on those family members struggling with addiction,” said Josh Robinson, a member of AHOP’s staff who shared the story of his father’s addiction and eventually miraculous recovery “Believe in them. Pray for them. Encourage them to turn to and depend on God.”
Movements and entities like Fairborn Against Heroin, Sober Lotus, Lighthouse Recovery Ministry, the Cornerstone Project, the Refuge, Her Story, The Jeremiah Tree and the Cleft were all represented at the event, which officially started at 7 p.m. at A House Of Prayer Church, 282 Stelton Road, in Xenia.
“Combined resources will help us win battles in this addiction war,” Matteoli said. “Here we had assistance for those who need freed from addiction, resources for families looking for guidance, counseling for those who are suffering from the loss of a loved one.”
A statewide faith-based advocate for the addicted, Pastor Greg Delaney, was the main speaker.
“Outreach resources and community support are vital to recovery from substance abuse disorders,” said Jason Kegley, president of Fairborn Against Heroin. FAH has big news coming soon to Fairborn in the way of a new outreach facility offering further consolidation of resources and assistance for those who need help. “These resources and this support embody the change we want to see in our community.”
Nate Chrisman of The Cleft, a youth ministry in Xenia, said their “purpose is to share hope, inspire change, and reveal Christ.”
The Cleft works with middle school and high school students in Xenia. Reaching out to the youth of the community before addiction begins is a goal of this ministry. Awareness through education, and prevention, is vital.
AHOP Pastor Mark Brooks said “getting the community involved is the first step in this crisis.”
Pastor Delaney is also the Outreach Coordinator for Woodhaven Ohio, a residential treatment facility in Dayton, and has spent the last 18 months working with the Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Heroin Unit to engage and empower the faith community to help combat the opiate epidemic. Delaney helped organize the event, working closely with Pastor John-Marc Brooks of AHOP’s worship arts department, Taylor Jacaruso and Misti Rowland of Xenia and others who helped organize the event.
Pastor Delaney gave a message of hope and the importance of the community response, as was demonstrated Saturday night with strength in such numbers.
To drive home his point, he quoted Sam Quinones, author of “Dreamland,” which chronicles Ohio’s current opiate addiction.
“Opiate addiction not only promotes isolation, it makes it preferable,” he said. “Heroin’s isolation needs community response… There is an Irish Proverb that says ‘hope is the physician to every misery’ and we the church have the hope to this misery and his name is Jesus.”
The overall theme centered in pulling these resources together for treatment, in addition to finding employment for people in recovery, finding them a loving and supporting church, showing them hope via others demonstrating recovery is possible, encouraging them, helping them detox when necessary, finding housing, and perhaps most fulfilling of all – finding a purpose for the addict in recovery, purpose in building a new life that is free from the use of harmful and addictive chemicals such as heroin, alcohol and meth.
The outpouring Saturday night was a big step forward for the recovery community, supporters said. More, they say, will be revealed later.
For resources or more information, go to ahopxenia.com, fairbornagainstheroin.org, jeremiahtree.org, lbcxenia.com, facebook.com/thehopespotofgreenecounty, facebook.com/SoberLotusRecoveryHousing , woodhavenohio.com, therefugeohio.com, ohioattorneygeneral.gov/DrugAbuse or samquinones.com/books/dreamland/ on the Web.
Brian Evans is a freelance writer for Greene County News. Email him at [email protected] Ric Matteoli reported on this story.