Does West Virginia have a drug problem? Check out these facts:
• West Virginia University was ranked number eight in the country’s “Druggiest Colleges” in 2010.
• West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources has recorded drug-related deaths in all northern panhandle counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler.
• The use of illicit and legal drugs and alcohol among pregnant women has been reported as a major factor in West Virginia’s poor newborn outcomes.
Weirton resident Patti Barnabei started a walking routine around a school track about three years ago. She heard the words to the song Never Alone, written by Jim Brickman, and sung by Sara Evans of Lady Antebellum on her iPod:
“So when hard times have found you,
and your fears surround you
Wrap my love around you, you’re never alone”
Pattie started thinking of the people that she knew in her life that might be feeling very alone – especially those who have lost a friend or a child to a drug overdose. Too many. She thought of those she knew who are battling addictions of any kind.
Around that same time, Channel 9 News/WTOV9 aired a one hour special on “Heroin in our Community”. This resonated in Patti’s heart. She was compelled to do something. She called the station to ask what she could do to help with the drug problem in the Northern Panhandle. She was directed to contact Healthways, a Weirton organization that provides mental and behavioral health services. They offered a place to meet for her first meeting of concerned people who were interested in battling addiction problems in the area.
Patti and her group started Never Alone. It’s motto is “Supporting a drug-free community”. She is adamant that this is coming from a Christian-based perspective. She realizes in some ways being “faith-based” will be a challenge to move the group forward, but her own deep faith beliefs give her the confidence to press on.
The goal of Never Alone is to convert the Sacred Heart of Mary’s former nun’s residence into a half-way house for recovering addicts. “There are not enough faith-based services in our area for men and women who suffer from abuse issues”, Patti stated. “We hope to fill in that gap.”
The 501©3 nonprofit organization will pursue further fundraising and grants to achieve their goals. They have an annual rally. This year’s rally is September 8.
Today Patti meets with a support group of people every Monday evening at 6:00PM. Thanks to the generosity of Sacred Heart of Mary and the Wheeling Diocese, the group is now meeting at the former nun’s residence at 149 Preston Avenue, Weirton. This group consists of family members, enablers and addicts. The support group session is an inspirational time – one of prayer, music and sharing. Education, resources and referrals are provided to members.
Patti hopes that addicts will walk away feeling cared for, stronger, hopeful, and above all – Never Alone.
Patti will be happy to speak about Never Alone to your church or community group. If you would like to make a donation or volunteer with the group, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meetings are every Monday at 6:00PM at 149 Preston Ave., Weirton West Virginia on the Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church campus.
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