VINTON — Field of Hope Community Campus and area dignitaries discussed the ongoing struggle with southeast Ohio’s drug epidemic along with Ohio’s 6th congressional district US Congressman Bill Johnson with a meal and tour at the campus location in Vinton Thursday.
Guests were invited to a meal in the campus’ newly completed women’s recovery house. Field of Hope’s Executive Director Kevin Dennis would ask the assembled to sit and eat with Vinton Baptist Church Heath Jenkins present to give the blessing over the meal.
Field of Hope Community Campus sits at the location of the old North Gallia High School. Field of Hope’s members seek to use the campus as a tool in providing workforce education for county members, a food pantry distribution center and a potential drug addiction rehabilitation therapy program using faith-based methods. The organization recently finished construction on its women’s recovery building. The facility will act as a home for women struggling with addiction while working to get sober.
Field of Hope is a faith-based organization and makes strong references to Christianity in its healing methodology.
“This man is a friend to our community and Ohio,” said Dennis as he introduced Johnson.
“What I didn’t tell you, was that before I joined the US Air Force, I was raised on a farm,” said Johnson. “We literally farmed with mules and had no indoor plumbing.”
Johnson detailed a time in his youth when he would go to church with his grandfather and learn about the “patriarchs and matriarchs of the scripture. Of Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and ultimately our savior Jesus Christ. It was a good thing that that was how I started out because things went downhill pretty quick.”
Johnson said his father struggled with addiction his entire life and died around 62.
“He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet when he was in his right mind,” Johnson said. “He struggled with alcohol and pills and drugs of all kinds. My mom spent more time running from him than living with him. It wasn’t unusual for me to get woke up in the middle of the night and she would whisper ‘We need to go.’ We would be in a car and sometimes I would wake up in another state sometimes and going to another school.”
Johnson said he had attended 12 different schools in 13 years due to “jumping around from place to place.”
Johnson would stress the need for programs such as Field of Hope as oftentimes those who took comfort in their spirituality would find guidance and redemption in walking away from drugs.
Johnson said he and Senator Rob Portman supported legislation to better fund rehabilitation efforts in order to combat the drug epidemic problems situated around Ohio and similarly challenged areas. Johnson said it was important to stop international drug trade making use of the US postal system because he claimed the way current legislation stands, whatever is being mailed must be delivered to its destination by law. Johnson felt new legislation may need created in order to prevent drugs from being shipped and cited FedEx and UPS as having taken it upon themselves to identify questionable packages and then not ship them when encountered.
Johnson would laud Field of Hope’s efforts and say more institutions should follow its example.
Field of Hope program participants along with Vinton Baptist Church’s Strong Tower 12-step program would detail their struggles with addiction and the sacrifices and struggles their families would have to go through in order to set themselves back on the path to healthy living. Kristina Barry, Misty DeBoard and B.J. Hatten gave testimonial as to how they were using the programs utilized by Field of Hope to overcome addiction challenges in their life. The three received standing ovations from the assembled.
“All those folks, I can tell you, from knowing where they are and where they’ve been, they’ve all come very far. By all logistics, they should be one of those statistics we read in the paper,” said Dennis,” until they had and encounter with God and Strong Tower. He was able to change their hearts and lives.”
Dennis said the next step for Field of Hope was to finish its sewage treatment facility in order for it to become a livable campus.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.