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Health & Science

ARC Grant Supports Greenbrier Program For Women in Substance Use Disorder Recovery

Seed Sower
A dining room for women in recovery from substance use disorder.

A Greenbrier County non-profit that will offer a residential recovery facility for women seeking substance use disorder treatment has received a near $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Seed Sower is a nonprofit that opened in November 2021. The program partners with Fruits of Labor, a restaurant and for-profit company providing job training and placement to people in recovery.

“This was more than the mission itself and the desperate need and the hurting of everyone around me being present everywhere you turned,” said Jay Phillips, executive director of Seed Sower. “I knew that I had some skill that I could contribute to this mission field.”

Seed Sower started when Phillips noticed the need for housing for women in recovery.

“Many, if not most people, with an active substance use disorder, fall under the official definition of houseless or homelessness,” Phillips said. “They are crashing on somebody's couch, or they're living in a terrible situation. And so, safe. supervised housing has always been kind of a cornerstone of any successful recovery. If you're in a dangerous place, no matter how many meetings or support groups to go to at night, you're going back into that dangerous place.”

Phillips noticed that women who were a part of the Fruits of Labor program were in need of a safe place to live. And that there were limited resources available for them in southern West Virginia.

“There are no beds for women in Greenbrier County, until now,” Phillips said. “In fact, in the surrounding region, there are very few.”

Seed Sower offers 24-hour on site supervision and guidance with peer recovery support specialists. Phillips says even the location is strategic.

“It's kind of up on a hilltop, not easily accessible,” he said. “It's beautiful and serene and quiet and just a place for people to be able to restore and rejuvenate their spirit and start that recovery journey in a safe place away from the things that had gotten them in so much trouble before.”

Women interested in the program can apply online. Once accepted and upon arrival at the facility, women begin the program with a barriers and basic needs assessment.

“Recovery journey begins with mitigating barriers and unmet needs,” Phillips said. “If you think of recovery as a garden, barriers and unmet needs are the things that are poisoning the soil. Those are the things that are preventing flowers from growing. Once you get all the contaminants and the poison out of the soil, then you can start adding things that are conducive to growth. In a plant, it'd be the case of you know, water and vitamins and fertilizers and things like that. But in the recovery pathway, it's connectedness, its opportunity, its social identity, where literally people migrate from a social identity of one as someone who's used to one of someone in recovery.”

Once the barriers are removed, the Seed Sower program begins building community connections and available resources.

“There's this great misconception that (substance use disorder) is just an aggregation of poor decisions and bad character judgment and nothing could be further from the truth,” Phillips said. “In very many cases, people who are experiencing a substance use disorder, have trauma in their past. They have issues contributing to their substance use disorder that goes beyond just a bad decision to take a drug.

“Recovery is not about giving them food or just sticking them in a halfway house somewhere. There's a phrase that says, ‘you can keep pulling people out of the river all you want to, but eventually you have to go upstream and find out why they're falling in in the first place.”

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