MANCHESTER, Ky. — Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined southeastern Kentucky leaders this week to discuss the Volunteers of America’s Freedom House and more plans to expand the recovery service in the area.
In 2022, over 2,000 people in Kentucky died of a drug overdose according to the Kentucky Justice and Safety Department. southeastern Kentucky leaders say it has been a more prevalent issue for the region within the last few decades.
“The communities aren’t here like they are in other areas around the United States, so you get into a situation where the opioid epidemic hit decades ago, and now you’ve got problems that are generational,” said Corbin Mayor Suzie Razmus.
However, nonprofits like Volunteers of America’s Mid-states Freedom House are helping first-time and other young mothers who are struggling with substance use or recovery and with opportunities to keep their children and families a part of their recovery story.
Now VOA group is expanding work in transitional housing, downtown development, and other health-related programs. Volunteers of America Mid-states CEO and president Jennifer Hancock says now is the time to look at growth.
“We’re treating our smallest clients from newborns up to adults and that’s an important part of freedom house’s message today. It’s that this problem affects the entire family. We have to treat the entire family,” she explained.
Other goals for people in these programs are to find interest in a degree or trade. They have plans to invest in developing education programs with places like Eastern Kentucky University and beyond once they begin recovery.
State Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says he’s seen the impact of the freedom house and transitional programs on people he’s worked with in the past.
“Years ago, that has now come out and is now on the road at Eastern and is now getting a degree after doing both state and federal time. There are resources, there are avenues, there are people out there who are willing to help,” Stivers said.
The freedom house celebrates 30 years of community outreach and is hosting a supply drive for baby items like wipes, diapers, baby clothes, clothes for mothers, and gift cards to places that carry bathing supplies.