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Beckley to become nation’s First Inclusive Recovery City on March 19

West Virginia Press Association

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The City of Beckley will soon become the first Inclusive Recovery City (IRC) in the United States.

On March 19, city, state, national and international leaders in recovery support will come together to sign a charter declaring Beckley as an IRC – the first in the nation, joining 26 other cities across Europe, the Balkans, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia as IRCs. 

The community is invited to attend the public remarks and the signing of the IRC charter, although all guests must register to gain entrance at the West Virginia University of Technology auditorium, 410 Neville Street in Beckley. Refreshments will be available at 9 a.m. and lunch will be catered by the Fruits of Labor Pizzeria & Café across the street. The program will get under way at 9:30 a.m., and the charter signing will take place at approximately 10 a.m.

A recovery city is a community that promotes visible recovery, addresses stigmatizing and discriminatory attitudes, and champions multiple pathways to addiction recovery. The underlying concept is that by embracing these principles, the entire city can experience growth and collective benefits through the generation of new networks, linkages and community resources.

Jay Phillips

Jay Phillips, Executive Director of Seed Sower, Inc., is leading this initiative with a number of local community and government entities. March 19 events will kick off with the Beckley IRC charter signing, including remarks from city, state and international leaders, followed by a luncheon and afternoon working groups.

Phillips became a part of the Seed Sower journey in 2019 and began bringing in advisors and building partnerships to make the recovery support services vision a reality. “The region has embraced our efforts and, thanks to six federal and state funding awards, we are offering safe, stable housing—which was our original number one priority—and expanded that far beyond to include transportation, workforce training and peer recovery support services focusing on southern West Virginia,” said Phillips.

In May 2023, The Well, which is a Seed Sower-affiliated organization, received funding support from the West Virginia Department Health and Human Resources as the only Recovery Community Organization (RCO) in southern West Virginia. The Well is one of six RCOs statewide.

Dr. David Best, who will be the keynote speaker at the event, conceived the model that evolved into the IRC program. He is a professor of Addiction Recovery at Leeds Trinity University and President of the Recovery Outcomes Institute based in Florida. His wife, Jessica, is director of  operations and acting executive director of the Recovery Outcomes Institute.

Phillips’ continual quest for information and innovation in recovery services led him to cutting-edge research and the Inclusive Recovery City model developed by Dr. Best. “This model offered a strategic way to best help the people and employers of this region, leveraging the area’s considerable community strengths and organizational assets,” he said.

The fundamental aims of the IRC model are:

  1. Reductions in stigma surrounding addiction and recovery 
  2. Create pathways to community resources for people in recovery 
  3. Contribute to civic society and the active engagement of multiple vulnerable populations
  4. Generate a model of ‘reciprocal altruism’ where there is a recognition of the talents, gifts and skills of people in recovery and their contribution to community life. 

The primary mechanism for this is through hosting at least four public events each year that have inclusive goals and contribute to the overall well-being of the community. 

Phillips said Beckley will also establish an Inclusive Recovery Cities board, involving grassroots recovery and community organizations, certain specialized addiction treatment services, and representatives from the city. City leaders will also engage in the Inclusive Recovery Cities movement, fostering the exchange of ideas and innovation at both national and international levels.

Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said, “We are honored to be the first city in the country to be named an IRC.  From the successful Communities of Healing initiative to The Well, and now with this designation, our city leaders and our citizens have steadfastly stood with those in recovery seeking a path forward.”

Entities joining Seed Sower in supporting the Beckley IRC include:

  • City of Beckley
  • Fruits of Labor, Inc.
  • WorkForce West Virginia Region 1
  • Jobs and Hope WV
  • New River Gorge Regional Development Authority / The WV Hive
  • Raleigh County Drug Court
  • Raleigh County Adult Probation
  • Raleigh County Family Treatment Court
  • Raleigh County Day Report Center
  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  • Southern WV Fellowship Home
  • Crab Orchard Baptist Church

Those wishing to register to attend can do so at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inclusive-recovery-city-beckley-kickoff-and-charter-signing-tickets-841485625157?aff=oddtdtcreator

Seed Sower, Inc. – Our first priority is safe, supervised housing and our growth has allowed Seed Sower to also focus on meeting the practical needs of our residents, such as transportation, recovery support, mental and behavioral healthcare coordination, 12-step and other recovery programming, life-skills development, and community reintegration.       

Seed Sower offers a comprehensive recovery and residential plan that networks multiple community, state and federal resources to provide evidence-based support services to our adult, women residents. These supports are built around the four major dimensions of recovery support as identified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Home, Health, Purpose and Community. Our work is grounded in creating a larger, holistic Recovery Ecosystem to sustain long-term recovery. More details are at https://seedsowerinc.org/

Photo caption: Dr. David Best, who will be the keynote speaker at the event, conceived the model that evolved into the IRC program.

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