West Side center aims to help struggling addicts recover

CRAIG CUNNINGHAM/DAILY MAIL
Some of the staff of the Charleston Prevention, Recovery, and Wellness Center on the West Side include Wendy Lewis, left, Kelly Chandler, the Rev. James Patterson, Tony Lee, and Lameesha McNeil.

A new center on Charleston’s West Side is ready to help those who are fighting substance abuse, struggling with mental challenges or facing other hurdles.

Charleston Prevention, Recovery and Wellness Center opened Oct. 1 at 1514 Kanawha Blvd. West.

“We are here and we want to be here,” said the Rev. James Patterson, executive director of the Partnership of African American Churches. “Place is important. We wanted to establish a place for recovery for the community on the West Side.”

Officials at the center will work to improve the community by deterring drug use, helping those recovering from addictions and coordinating referrals to provide any number of additional services. Those seeking help may need assistance with finding a job, furthering education or getting emergency assistance with food or utilities.

While it may sound like a lot of responsibility, Patterson and staff are up to the task at hand.

“This is my passion,” Patterson said. “We’ve worked on getting the center going for a couple of years.”

In addition to heading the Partnership, Patterson is pastor of Institute Church of the Nazarene and also serves on the advisory council for the Governor’s Substance Abuse Task Force.

“In 2010, the governor asked how to get the faith community involved in substance abuse,” he said.

The Partnership is a nonprofit, faith-based corporation that began 15 years ago and achieved nonprofit status in 2003. The Partnership includes 21 congregations of various denominations in eight counties. The main office, previously located in Institute, is now housed on the West Side of Charleston inside the new Prevention, Recovery and Wellness Center.

As part of its health initiative, the Partnership implements substance abuse control strategies that focus on prevention, intervention and recovery. Recovery coaches are trained through the nationally-recognized Connecticut Community for Addiction and Recovery Coach Academy curriculum.

In addition to Patterson, staff for the new center includes Wendy Lewis, program director for substance abuse programming; Michelle Moore, coalition coordinator; Kelly Chandler, recovery coach; Tony Lee, recovery coach; and Lameesha McNeil, program coordinator for drug free communities. Working with schools with programming and after-school activities are Edna Green and Tonya Clark. After-school programs in Charleston, Institute and Rand include 165 children.

The new Charleston Prevention, Recovery and Wellness Center welcomes walk-ins. If a needed service is not available on site, staff will help find the resource.

Lots of plans are in the works.

A five-week course for those who have family members struggling with addictions will be led by Jack Stringfellow, longtime therapist with Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center. The schedule will be set soon and the class will be limited to 15 people.

A meeting of the Partnership’s West Side Ward 4 Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will be held at the new center at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24. The coalition is made up of youth, parents, business and community leaders, law enforcement and others interested in improving the area. Check out “PAAC West Side Ward 4” on Facebook for additional information.

A permit has been procured for a community-based radio station at the center with educational programming and music. Patterson hopes the station will be up and running by April but donations are needed to make it a reality.

The center also would welcome the donation of new computers to replace the older ones now used there.

The Partnership has received funding from Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities and other sources. Also, the organization is in the second year of a $500,000 five-year Drug Free Communities grant and receives a portion of those funds each year.

Help is needed at the new center for those who wish to volunteer. Any number of talents can be used from resume writing to computer training. Volunteers may also help in the office or with children while parents are meeting with recovery coaches.

For more information, go to www.paac2.org, call 304-768-7688 or just drop by the center at 1514 Kanawha Blvd. W. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or by appointment.

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlotte@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1246.

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