BECKLEY, W.Va. – The Communities of Healing recovery-to-work program has announced registration is open for a Fall 2021 cohort for small business and social enterprise leaders who are interested in providing employment to local citizens recovering from addiction. The goal is to recruit 10 businesses.
The first cohort of area businesses is currently finishing four months of training and will soon be hiring people to work in the food, hospitality, tourism, and agriculture sectors. A Communities of Healing Gathering is scheduled for August 2. It will serve as a graduation of those in the first cohort who have completed the training, as well as the start of the Fall cohort of businesses selected.
Chris Adams, owner of Appalachian Furnishings in Rock View, is a participant in the current training cohort. “Effective change requires more than good intentions or a good heart,” said Adams. “It requires planning, understanding and execution. I encourage other businesses to join me on this journey.”
Judy Moore, director of the West Virginia Hive Network based in Beckley, said the cultivation of local businesses and entrepreneurs is a key component to addressing the opioid crisis in Appalachia and in improving the response to substance use disorder. “The Communities of Healing program is designed to spur small business development and employ West Virginians healing from addiction through the growth of social entrepreneurship.” She said it is built on the success of Fruits of Labor, a culinary program based in Rainelle, that has years of experience working with those in recovery.
Tammy Jordan, president of Fruits of Labor, said her organization’s success is meaningful because “change happens in ourselves, our families, and our communities as we understand better how to become part of that change. When we are growing and investing, we have space to create a place of healing, a community of healing, and to hold the space needed for those in recovery to invest in their own healing journey.”
Moore and Jordan hope additional businesses will register and learn more about the Communities of Healing. Businesses currently being trained in the program and set for August 2 graduation include:
• Chris Adams, Appalachian Furnishings, Rockview, WV;
• Samantha Phillips, Sage and Lila Company, Beaver, WV;
• Maxine Johnson, Appalachian Artistic Adventures, Princeton, WV;
• Brittany Massaroni, Armadio Luxury Exchange, Princeton, WV;
• Amy Patterson, Sandstone General Store and Eatery, Sandstone, WV;
• Yvonne Ortiz, Heavenly Sweet Pastries, Meadow Bridge, WV;
• Adam Hodges, MuttonChops, Oak Hill, WV;
• Jennifer Gilkerson, Sunset Berry Farm & Produce, Alderson, WV;
• Trey Yates, Greenbrier Dairy, Alderson, WV; and
• James Birt, Housed-Up; Fayetteville, WV.
Registration for the Fall cohort will close the week of July 19, 2021.
The WV Hive is a partner in the Communities of Healing program and has assisted with its startup, including recruiting cohort participants, and offering the Co.Starters Get Started workshop, the first step of the training journey. Staff of the WV Hive also provide business advisor support for businesses and entrepreneurs that desire to have social impact surrounding recovery efforts in southern West Virginia communities.
The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded a three-year grant to the Region 4 Planning and Development Council in Summersville in 2020 for the startup of this program. The “Creating Communities of Healing by Cultivating Businesses to Address the Opioid Crisis” project is also supported by Seed Sower, Inc., Wright Venture Services, Region 1 Workforce Development Board, and the Region IV Planning and Development Council.
The WV Hive is the entrepreneurship program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority and the administrator of the Country Roads Angel Network. More information about the WV Hive can be found at https://wvhive.com/.
Registration for the Fall cohort of the Communities of Healing program can be completed at https://www.fruitsoflaborinc.com/communities-of-healing.