RAINELLE, WV (WVNS) — We hear countless stories of people battling addiction and the toll it takes in West Virginia. For some, it can be hard to show compassion and see the best in people.
However, there are many success stories. Melissa Manning and Jeff Blackburn both hit some of the lowest lows. Through hard work and determination to get better, they are in recovery. They want to help people do the same.
Both live in Rainelle, Greenbrier County. An area riddled with drugs. For people that have called Rainelle home forever, it wasn’t always this way.
City Councilman John Wyatt, said back in the day, Meadow River Lumber Company employed hundreds of people. The railroad was also bustling and business was booming.
“There were at least 7, 8, or 9 restaurants maybe more. There were hardware stores,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt remembered when things started to change.
“The biggest shift was in 1960 and 70 when the mills shut down,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt said the influx of drugs began during the Vietnam War. It all began with marijuana. Wyatt remembered a surge in the 80s, harder drugs entered the mix, closer to what it is today.
So how do you fix the problem of addiction?
A long-term recovery center could be the start. God’s Way Home will soon open in Rainelle. Men 18 and older can live at the facility for one year. Andrew Bailes, the Executive Director of God’s Way Home, said the goal is to help them recover, however that might look. Finding a job, renting an apartment, getting a driver’s license. Whatever it takes to get these men back on their feet.
“There are success stories, and not everybody’s story is the same. There’s not a cookie cutter program for recovery,” Bailes said.
There is also a collaborative effort between multiple people in the town to fight the problem.
City council is working with law enforcement, God’s Way Home, the community, even psychologists to help better understand the issue. So many people coming together, yet councilman John Wyatt said there isn’t much getting accomplished.
“We have polar opposites on what to do with the addiction problem in Rainelle,” Wyatt said.
Recovering addict Melissa Manning said the negativity within the community is only making things worse.
“Just like the world of recovery, you have to have a whole community to fix the whole community. Until everyone out here realizes that, this problem is not going to go away,” Manning said.
Recovering addict Jeff Blackburn agreed.
“We have to take an honest look at ourselves and be open-minded and willing to try something different and make a change,” Blackburn said.
Bailes, Wyatt, Blackburn, and Manning all ask the community to set aside those negative thoughts and show a little compassion. Just maybe that will be the beginning of a better future in Rainelle.