Healing Place Resolution Generates
Some Public Ire, Plaudits for Goal

May 1, 2008

By Tony Rutherford

Huntington, WV (HNN) – A resolution to “support the establishment” of The Healing Place, an addiction recovery center based on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, has now twice been postponed by council for further study.

At first glance, the answer would appear obvious. Don’t we all want the alcohol and drug addicts removed and recovering? A question of “where” has brought some negative input from citizen activist, Tom McCallister, while several council members themselves have inquired about zoning issues and the possibility that it’s a premature issue.

Healing Place of Huntington patterned after the one in Louisville has already landed a couple a hundred grand from the legislature.

But, shadows of the Huntington Treatment Center ( Methadone Clinic ) controversy and placement of impaired patients have threatened to overshadow the efforts.

Based on a model established in Louisville, the center there has “for 15 years provided men and women the opportunity to gain freedom from homelessness and freedom from alcoholism and/or addiction,” writes Jay. P. Davidson, President and CEO.

Davidson attributes public and private support of individuals, corporations and government agencies for assisting The Healing Place becoming a “model that works” in Louisville, Lexington, Raleigh, N.C. And Richmond , Va. The facility was featured in February 2005 on NPR's Morning Radio. The Healing Place has a total of ten replicated sites in the Bluegrass State and its pattern is used in six additional states.

Although Mayor David Felinton stressed that the planned Huntington facility was still in its infancy and did not have a chosen location, employees or a director. “They are not in a position to buy anywhere.”

Kim Miller, the full time planning director for the proposed Huntington Healing Place, told council that the inpatient treatment program has a 66% success rate. “We want to get the same results as Louisville,” she said, adding that as a counselor she sees the “miracle of recovery every day.”

Miller told council that in addition to a total of $200,000 in planning funding from the West Virginia legislature, the organization has received its tax exempt status from the IRS and has paid $25,000 to use the Healing Place trademark in conjunction with the original Louisville location.

One of the next steps for the group will be applying for a federal grant for staffing.

Council member Scott Caserta pointed out, “nothing in the resolution alludes to supporting a specific location.”

Since the organizers are sponsoring an educational excursion to the Louisville site, council agreed to a second postponement of a vote. Council members have been invited to visit the facility.

The Huntington Healing Place hopes to raise about $3 million in order to purchase land or a building and get up and running.

You may visit the Kentucky location's website at: http://www.thehealingplace.org.   A video may be downloaded at this site: http://www.thehealingplace.org/video/index.htm.

Mayor Felinton punctuated his support of the facility by revealing that he had been a recreational drug user when growing up in Maryland. He left that area and came to Huntington to escape that environment.

Attesting to both the value and uncertainty of the drug rehabilitation process, he explained that his brother has bounced in and out of rehab and the legal system. After being clean for four years, “he told my family that he was back on [drugs]” three or four months ago.

© Huntington News (WV)

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