We at The Hub are thrilled to announce the newest addition to our Executive Leadership Team, Katie Loudin.
Even just 4 years ago, Debra Davis was still teaching middle school in Wyoming County, WV, but she’d been working on a plan to rebuild her community for a decade. Her little town of Oceana had been rocked hard by prescription drug addiction and had few resources to deal with it.
Her involvement came as a direct result of the children in her classroom. As Debra describes it, “There were dark secrets that were hidden, the kids in my classroom kept coming to me asking where they could go for help, and so I realized I was somebody who could be this person.”
In 2005, One Voice was founded to “help our communities and our families do better.” What started as an ad hoc gathering of community members to help provide a safe place for addicts where they would not be judged, quickly spiraled into direct referrals for detox centers. Something was working – people wanted to get clean, yet their families were falling apart while they were in detox and so once again, One Voice responded.
The group of community members, which by this time had grown considerably, quickly mobilized to stabilize these home situations. The organization, together with Wyoming County Schools, started to feed children over the weekend in these homes.
Community members can support the program by purchasing food off of a list at the local Goodson’s supermarket, while direct monetary donations are used to purchase bulk food.
As of today, 33 coaches have been trained across 7 counties; the organization supervises social work interns from West Virginia University, Lindsay Wilson College, Marshall, and other higher education institutions; and One Voice serves as a site for the day report center – providing that much needed give back and service hours for individuals in everything from alternative sentencing to those on probation.
In the future, One Voice is planning on opening an education and training center on Main Street in downtown Oceana – front and center to the community. Although this facility will of course offer recovery meetings, recovery coaching, and counseling, the thing Debra and the community are most excited about is the opportunity for job training programs and workforce development. One of the largest hurdles here is that businesses don’t want to hire felons, or former drug users – it’s part of the stigma.
When I asked Debra what the secret sauce is to her work, she laughed and said, “I’m not sure, we all just saw something that needed fixed, and we kept trying and will keep trying until this isn’t our story anymore.”
One Voice has worked hard to build community, reduce the stigma, and integrate family recovery into long term plans for individuals. Sooner, rather than later, this will no longer be Oceana’s story.
The Small Communities, BIG Solutions Conference Awards Selection Committee is now seeking nominations of real southern West Virginia success stories.
Last fall, we kicked off our HubCAP (Communities of Achievement Program) in six communities working on the Mon Forest Towns initiative: Cowen, Elkins, Franklin, Marlinton, Petersburg and White Sulphur Springs.