Kootenai Recovery Center's Impact on the North Idaho Community : Stories of Strength
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By DEVIN WEEKS Staff Writer at the Coeur d'Alene Press | July 8, 2022 1:08 AM
The Kootenai Recovery Community Center in Coeur d’Alene offers a wealth of services, programming and support for those who have or are experiencing behavioral health and/or substance abuse issues. The center, at 1621 N. Third St., Suite 700, is also where a wealth of stories can be found — stories of strength, survival, friendship and second chances. “From the moment I was released from the department of corrections, I came here and I was given almost the world,” volunteer Dave Brown of Coeur d'Alene said Thursday, seated with several colleagues in a main space of the center. "This place has been the catalyst for my change and for my growth," he said. Brown will soon celebrate 40 months of sobriety. When he first came to the center, he was immediately taken under the wings of staff members and volunteers who helped him obtain a phone. He has since become a recovery coach, completed peer support specialist training and is currently working on his computer skills. “This place, I’ve seen them change lives,” he said. “I tell them sometimes, ‘Y’all make me feel good about being me, and that’s hard to do.’ They’ve helped me build my confidence. They’ve been real good about having referrals and resources for me. From the moment I got out until today, they’re helping me. “After 30 years of active substance abuse, I just feel like this has been the soil of me being a new branch on my tree of life,” he continued. "Words can’t really express how much this place means to me."
Brown is one of 100's of people the nonprofit center serves on a monthly basis, in person or over the phone. The center serves as a hub where people from all walks of life and in every phase of their recovery are welcome. “We’re seeing a lot of mental health and substance abuse," said Tess Reasor, director of operations. "It’s always been here, and it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are. Almost every single family in the entire state and states across the nation have been affected by somebody who has mental health or substance use disorder." Kootenai Recovery's role in the community has become even more vital as support programs throughout the Inland Northwest are closing, including Kootenai Health's addiction recovery and outpatient Kootenai Clinic Psychiatry. "I think our numbers are rising because the chemical dependency unit has closed," Reasor said. "We’re going to be supporting a lot more individuals in our county and surrounding counties." All services and programs provided by Kootenai Recovery Center are free. These include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, life skills classes, peer support, mental wellness support groups and more. It also offers clothing, food pantry items, hygiene products and other necessities for those in need. The center's coverage area includes Idaho's five northern counties. Its mission is to help individuals achieve long-term recovery from substance abuse and behavioral health disorders. It partners with many organizations across the community to find the appropriate resources for each individual.
Its recovery coaches all have their own stories and experiences. They can empathize with those seeking help because they have walked those dark paths too.
Joy Fryman is an administrator, peer support specialist and past board president who has been with the center since before it officially opened in 2016. Part of her work includes education and combating the stigma that surrounds substance use and mental health. "We share our own lived experience of what happened with mental illness, what helped us and what our lives are like now," she said. "I used to be a drug addict. I have almost 27 years off meth. I used to self-medicate because I was a depressed kid. I had five suicide attempts over the years. I was homeless. I had a lot of traumatic events."
Fryman now owns her own vehicle and home, and she's been married 23 years. "I want to tell people, even how darkest your days can be, there is hope," she said. "I went from a person that never went to high school to having college credits, with a learning disability … Don't let a disability discourage you from living your dreams and doing what you love. I try to convey that to my kids and my family and the people I work with: instill hope. "There's no shame in getting help." Kelsey Evans of Coeur d'Alene said she was destitute when she first found the center. "I had a psychiatric diagnosis that withdrew me from my son for an extended period of time, and that was really traumatic," she said. Evans was first met by Fryman,
who warmly welcomed her. She said the center gave her a foundation of support, jump-started her recovery from drugs and alcohol and gave her an opportunity to restore herself through volunteer work. "It gave me lifelong friends," Evans said. "I still have her as my friend, as well as a couple other girls there that have just been understanding that regardless of what label was given to you, you are still a person. You go out and you work your butt off just as everybody else, and everybody carries something with them. You got a label, whether you use opioids or you have mental health, etc., other people have labels too it's just ours is looked at differently and a little bit worse."
The center's hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but Reasor or another recovery coach are ready to help those in need, even outside business hours. "There is light at the end of the tunnel," Reasor said. "If we want to make those positive changes in life, EVERYBODY has the opportunity to do just that."
Info: www.kootenairecovery.org or 208-932-8005
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