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Southern W.Va. Business Hub Tackles Workforce Challenges With Addiction Recovery Training Program

Chris_walking.jpg
Jessica Lilly
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Apprentice Chris Puckett works at Appalachian Furnishings in Wyoming County.

A fourth Fruits of Labor Cafe and Bakery will open later in August in Beckley. The company formalized a program focused on helping employers create work spaces that are recovery friendly.

The program is called Communities of Healing. It was started by Fruits of Labor owner Tammy Jordan, as a way for her business to employ and support people in recovery.

The Communities of Healing project brings in partners like West Virginia Hive Network to share the program with other businesses in the region.

Judy Moore, deputy director of operations at the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority and president of Country Roads Angel Network, said in addition to helping navigate people through recovery, the Communities of Healing Program is also helping the economy.

“It is a deep need, especially for southern West Virginia,” Moore said. “We have a true workforce problem. And we have found that, embedded within that is this opioid issue. And in order to break down the issues surrounding the workforce, this is a big problem that we have to tackle.”

The West Virginia Hive is a business hub that works to help businesses succeed.

In addition to helping businesses learn how to hire and support people in recovery, the Communities of Healing program is addressing the stigma surrounding drug abuse.

And Moore said, it takes more than a willing heart.

“That's where it has to start,” Moore said. “They have to have passion. They need to understand that they're working with individuals that have been through a lot, and they are really restarting. The businesses have to have patience. It's so very important that the businesses go through this program and learn about all of those resources and tools and skills that they truly need to make this successful.”

This is the second year businesses can apply for acceptance into the Communities of Healing program. To date, 24 businesses have graduated from the program. The fourth cohort of nine businesses just began. The initiative has been funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Southern W.Va. Bureau Chief, Reporter/Producer, jlilly@wvpublic.org, 304-384-5981, @JessicaYLilly

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