By Mary Ellen Slone
HOPE is the state of mind which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life – while despair is recognized as the opposite of HOPE.
There is a vast difference between being disappointed and being hopeless. While virtually everyone experiences disappointment from time to time, hopelessness is a bottom of-the-barrel, negative category all of its own.
If you’ve ever been or currently are in a hopeless situation, you’ve experienced the genuinely insurmountable feelings of failure, fear, grief, futility, and often, most devastatingly, shame. Are you aware that each day in Lexington and Central Kentucky, men and women of all ages are barely existing and drowning in a world of despair?
Thankfully, for those stuck in this ‘living hell’ paradigm, there is a beacon of hope, literally and figuratively—the Hope Center. For twenty years, the Hope Center has embodied the concept of hope for thousands, by providing shelter, food, clothing, recovery, pathways to employment, transitional housing, and physical and mental health services.
Originally created in 1993 by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government as a temporary shelter for homeless men, the Hope Center’s mission and its outreach have each expanded dramatically, providing both men and women with opportunities to regain stability, sobriety, self-respect and purpose in their lives. In the name of hope, this organization provides food, shelter, and clothing to people who are homeless, recovery for those men and women suffering from addiction, health services for those who are sick, diagnosis and treatment for those who are mentally ill, employment services for those who can work, transitional housing for those who are on their way back, and permanent affordable housing for those who need it. In just over twenty years, this amazing organization has positively impacted thousands of lives by offering these services and more to those in need in our community. The opportunities for both hope and health are significant and numerous.
The Hope Center has several facilities around Lexington. The West Loudon Avenue Men’s campus includes the Emergency Shelter, where homeless men can find the basics and begin the process of rebuilding; the Jacobs Hope Cafeteria, where hundreds of people each day can find a warm meal; the Don & Cathy Jacobs house for men in the Mental Health, Employment, and Recovery Programs; and the George Privett Recovery Center for Men, where men over 18 who’ve chosen to escape addiction can recover in a supportive environment.
Several Hope Center programs are housed inside the Emergency Shelter, such as the Employment and Hispanic Programs and the Recovery Detox facility, as well as the Hope Center Veterans Program, which provides shelter and other life-rebuilding services to those who have served our country in the Armed Forces.
On Versailles Road, their Women’s Campus offers many of the same opportunities; the Ball-Quantrell Jones Recovery Center for Women houses nearly 100 women recovering from substance abuse, and the 44-unit Barbara Rouse Apartments for Women provides women who have completed a recovery program and their children with a supportive, sober, and permanent place to call home.
Also on Versailles Road, men in recovery can find permanent housing at the Hill Rise Apartments. Not to be overlooked, through the generosity of Baptist Health and others, the opportunity to purchase the new “Hope Mobile” facilitating an expanded capability of providing community health services at various locations across Lexington. Because of the success of the recovery program at the Hope Center, it has been used as a model for Recovery Kentucky, a series of recovery centers across the Commonwealth. Ten of these centers are now open, and more are planned.
My dad died when I was 11 years old, and soon thereafter, I started to drink with my uncles, in order to cope with Dad’s loss. I wasn’t aware that my drinking was a sign of my becoming an alcoholic, or that I had lost control of my life. When I was 17, I ended up in an ICU unit having quit breathing as a result of alcohol poisoning. I still wouldn’t admit that I was in serious trouble. I worked, and went to school, but I drank on weekends, and started using marijuana and other drugs. Finally, the drug court in Boyd County sent me to the Hope Center.
I learned that the pain meds I’d taken for a back injury which occurred at my former place of employment just fueled my addiction; whatever was necessary for me to ease the pain I used it; and ended up in the criminal justice system. Ironically, my ‘major’ in College was Criminal Justice.
Although I had been terminated from drug court, I was reinstated for one ‘last ditch effort’ to get my life back on track. Through the grace of God, the Hope Center was assigned to help me with that commitment. The peer mentors and the staff at the Center’s Recovery Program had both the education and the experience in the field of addiction. They showed me how to live by not enabling me, and by accepting from me NOTHING but the truth. They showed me a way to deal with my many issues; past, present, and future. While at the Hope Center, I experienced God’s grace—participating in the program, I experienced a complete and total transformation. I can now enjoy life; I can and do smile and laugh, I don’t have to be “treated like a dog” anymore. I am honored to have been hired as Staff at the Center, and I’m currently working as a recovery caseworker at the Jacob’s House.
A childhood friend and I now co-own Grace Painted, LLC here in Lexington. It’s a start-up, but it’s our goal to grow the business, and concurrently, to help others going through recovery. My personal goals are to remain clean, to continue my relationship with God, family, and friends, and to give back to the Hope Center for all that their programs have given me!
Jacqueline is a hard worker—and a fighter. As a native Lexingtonian stationed in Germany, Jacqueline left the military at the end of 2011 when she was pregnant with her second child. She returned to Kentucky with the commitment to attend college and the goal earning not one, but two medically related degrees. Having just earned her Certified Nursing Assistant’s Certification, Jacqueline has maintained a 4.0 GPA, and will soon complete her Associates in Science and Associates in Art Certifications. She’s hoping to transfer to the University of Kentucky for nursing school, and then to complete an l8-month Midwifery Certification soon thereafter.
This amazing young woman credits the Hope Center’s One Parent Scholar House as empowering her second chance, and, she’s justifiably proud of the example she’s setting for her children. She commented,“ My son is five, and he’s at that age where he watches and sees everything. I know that my children are picking up habits from me, so we have weekend study sessions – my daughter, who is two, sits in her highchair with her colorful “ABC and 1,2,3” cards and my son sits at the table with his workbook, and I’m there with my homework.”
Although Jacqueline is often justifiably exhausted from being a medical student, a mom, and working at a part time job, she’s adamant about the lead role the Hope Center has played in her life. I’ve hit rock bottom before, and I never want to do that again. So, if I have to ask for help I will ask…this is me, today, growing, and doing what I know I can, and I will do!”