Lexington, Ky., Nov 14, 2019 / 03:12 am (CNA).- A Kentucky diocese is leasing a tenantless building to a Catholic charity to create a holistic recovery program for people in the area struggling with drug addictions.
“It’s an exciting possibility,” said Jenny Ramsay, co-founder and director of Catholic Action Center (CAC), the homeless service agency in Lexington which will be helping run the new program.
“Our [clients] need it so desperately … This place is welcoming, and it includes the holistic approach with environmental sustainab[ility],” she told CNA.
The Diocese of Lexington announced Friday that the Catholic Action Center is beginning a three-year lease on the Cliffview Retreat and Conference Center in Lancaster. The facility will be known as Divine Providence Way at Cliffview, and CAC will have an opportunity to purchase the property at the end of the lease.
The Catholic Action Center will be in charge of developing a holistic environment for the addiction recovery center. This will include recreational therapy, such as music and art. The medical side of the recovery efforts will be run by Mountain Comprehensive Care, a mental health and addiction center based in eastern Kentucky that has partnered with CAC for the past two years.
The program will also offer job training through Bluegrass Community and Technical College, which will take place at a specific satellite campus for the beneficiaries. There, the clients will have access to educational opportunities including culinary art, sustainable living, building and maintenance, and information technology.
Ramsay said the building and maintenance program will focus on skills like carpentry and solar panel installation. She said the IT program will teach some basic coding and other entry-level IT skills.
The program will be environmentally sustainable, Ramsay said, relying on green energy from solar panels and incorporating beehives, chicken coops, and greenhouses.
“We are creating the environment at Cliffview, which will include sustainable agriculture. Holistic care of the people includes the fact that their environment needs to be something that renews them,” she said.
“We’re human beings and we all have different brokenness, but we all relate and can be healed through [a holistic approach] … We’re not going to say that one size fits all, but when we engage with the earth and engage the mind, body, and spirit, then changes happen,” she added.
The idea for Divine Providence Way was developed after staff members at the Catholic Action Center witnessed a need for greater addiction care among the homeless population.
The initiative comes amid an ongoing opioid crisis in the United States. Kentucky has been among the states hit hardest by the epidemic. From 2012-2017, more than 6,700 overdose deaths were reported in the state, according to data from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. In 2017, Kentucky had a drug overdose rate of 37.2 deaths per 100,000 people, the fifth-highest in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We see the individuals, we see the overdoses, we see the challenges,” said Ramsay, when asked about the opioid crisis.
Founded in 2000, the Catholic Action Center is an initiative inspired by Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement. According to its website, the organization has served more than 5.5 million meals and distributed over 2.5 million items of clothing. The agency has also covered 90 funerals for clients who had no families.
Ramsay stressed that it is a Christian’s duty to care for all people, even those struggling from addiction and currently abusing drugs. She said it is an example set by Christ.
“As Catholic Christians, we’re called to address [this] and to…help those in need,” she told CNA. “Knowing that we may have the opportunity to help others in a unique situation, we couldn’t turn our back on [them].”
“Jesus said feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty. He didn’t say feed the hungry who are sober,” she added.