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Nonprofit Spotlight: Creating a Recovery Community

Voices of Hope supports people in recovery from addiction and their families

By wmadministrator

A Lexington nonprofit has become a beacon of support for people in recovery from addiction and their families. It was created, in part, by a Lexington mother who needed such a community when her son was battling addiction.

Voices of Hope provides no-cost recovery support services, conducts research, educates and advocates for the recovery community. Its main goal is to enhance the support available to people seeking and experiencing long-term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. It also has services for family members of those in recovery or in active addiction.

Voices of Hope
450 Old Vine Street, Suite 101
Lexington, KY 40507
(859) 303-7671 • voicesofhopelex.org

Shelley Elswick, president and CEO of Voices of Hope, explains her role in the creation of the organization and how it helps the community.

The Lane Report: You are co-founder for Voices of Hope. How did the idea for this organization come about?

Shelley Elswick: I live in the suburbs where addiction isn’t “supposed” to visit. About 11 years ago, my family experienced real, desperate need for the first time. As my son devolved deeper into his addiction, we became afraid, confused, sad and angry all at once. We needed information. We needed to understand. We needed understanding. We needed access to treatment, urgently. We needed emotional support.

We were fortunate to access most of what we needed to heal, but we quickly found that this experience is the exception, not the rule. Voices of Hope was born of a desire to replicate that experience and create a community supporting recovery.

TLR: When did Voices of Hope begin?

SE: We began in 2014 as a loosely organized group of friends and family. We held Overdose Awareness Day events to memorialize the lives of those we’ve loved and lost. We conducted overdose response trainings and distributed naloxone at a time when barriers to accessing that life-saving medication were formidable. We partnered to create a local online resource finder when no comprehensive, statewide treatment repository existed.

In 2015, we incorporated and officially became Voices of Hope, the first recovery community organization in Lexington. Certainly, there were plenty of treatment centers doing good work in our city. But no organization had taken the onus to fill gaps in the continuum of care for people leaving treatment and for people who never receive treatment at all. Voices of Hope opened its first brick-and-mortar location in November 2018.

Voices of Hope walks with people who use or have used alcohol and other drugs and wish to improve their lives. Whoever they are, wherever they’re going, and however they move forward, we go with them. Our programming is oriented toward increasing the resources that may help a person recover.

Overdose Awareness Day

Voices of Hope will host Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will include a memorial for photos of loved ones lost, messages of hope for those grieving, art projects for shared messages, a large resource fair, lunch and more. Visit voicesofhopelex.org for more information.

TLR: Can you share one of your success stories?

SE: Tom’s addiction to opiates started with a construction-related back injury. For the next 20 years, he was jobless, incarcerated or transient, and estranged from his family. After residential treatment, he set two goals: to gain a degree and re-enter the workforce. Tom is a living success story. He joined our employment internship program, where his work ethic led us to hire him part-time, working on our mobile recovery unit. He is attending school and earning a 4.0 GPA. Best of all: Tom’s mother says she is proud of him.

TLR: How can the business community help support your organization?

SE: Voices of Hope recently purchased a building on North Broadway in Lexington. After remodeling to make the space usable as a community center, decorating to make the space comfortable, and purchasing needed equipment, lives will be saved and transformed here. Our current needs include funding to help with the building. Donations can be made online to our capital campaign at tinyurl.com/dn5393mt.

TLR: What is a recent achievement of which you are particularly proud?

SE: Voices of Hope received a grant from KORE, Kentucky Opioid Response Effort, to launch mobile services in both Lexington and Louisville. We bring services such as recovery coaching, mutual aid meetings and facilitated linkage to community resources to neighborhoods and partner organizations. We distribute naloxone and provide information about safer use. To reduce the risk of infectious disease, we provide educational information, masks, safe-use kits, hygiene items and self-administered wound care kits. We began just a few months ago and have already distributed over 1,000 naloxone kits and trained people about how to use them to save a life.