By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Before A Center 4 Change held their ribbon cutting a couple of weekends ago, they held a QA event where they took community questions about what the counseling center would offer in their new Olive Hill location. But before they took questions from the community, they did a couple of activities with staff – some of whom are former addicts and Center 4 Change clients – where each person had to compliment another staff member from each office. The activity, which made them search for the positives in others and themselves, was indicative of the approach A Center 4 Change takes with their clients, and what they hope to bring to the communities they serve.
“Carter County needs (what other communities have),” Morgan Kinder, who works in the new Olive Hill office, said of the services A Center 4 Change offers. “When I was growing up, if you heard someone say they were going to Pathways, (they) were crazy.” But, she said, though that was no more the case then than it is now, there is still a stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues. That needs to change, she said. Kinder, who said she has seen the impact therapy and intervention can have not just on those with addiction problems, but anxiety and other mental health issues, said our communities need another way to look at mental health.
No matter what issue the center is treating, from addiction to anger management to marriage counseling, child and family counseling, or even medication management, what they endeavor to do at the center is “provide people with a solid foundation” to build a healthy future on, explained Nikki, a former department of corrections psychologist who now works with the center.
Staci Carpenter, who is from Olive Hill and will be working as a therapist, said she feels the center offers an “exciting chance to break the stigma” of mental health services.
“We’ve all struggled at some point with something we’ve needed help with,” Carpenter said.
It’s not just addiction that people suffer with. A Center 4 Change has helped bankers with OCD and judges with emotional support, the founders explained. But for them, it was drugs that led them to found their first center in Summit, near Ashland, before adding locations in Grayson, Morehead, Russell and now Olive Hill.
“I tried everything,” said founder Tonya Bond-Judd, who along with her daughter Kieara Judd-Irick – a former addict – started the journey that would lead to A Center 4 Change. That included threatening to drive her vehicle through a drug dealer’s home. She was trying to attack the source of the drugs her daughter was taking. But it was only after realizing she needed to support her daughter in fixing herself that Bond-Judd made the breakthrough that would inform all of A Center 4 Change’s therapies.
“For every addict we work with, it’s not us fixing them,” she said. “It’s us giving them the tools needed to fix themselves.”
That includes their approach to Suboxone therapy, which Bond-Judd was skeptical of at first. But with Suboxone, when they use it, they have a plan to wean them off of it. Suboxone isn’t an end in and of itself but is used only “as a tool in a tool box.” Patients have to go through every other step before they get to medical intervention, which can include Suboxone to help keep them from relapsing due to drug induced sickness.
“Brains in addiction are different,” explained Melody, who works with medical intervention. “But (Suboxone) doesn’t have to be forever.”
“They’re going to work for it every week,” she said. They won’t just hand it out. Patients using Suboxone will be given only what they need for the day or the week, and will have to continue with therapy and the building of other support systems.
They are difficult steps to take, explained Shawn Speers, who originally hails from Sandy Hook.
“The hardest thing to do is say, ‘Here’s my trash. Can you help me go through it?;” he explained. But it’s a necessary part of the process, for drug addiction or overcoming any other mental health issue.
While A Center 4 Change can help with various mental health issues, addiction is one of the issues that has the most impact on the community as a whole. It’s also the focus of the residential treatment program at Jenkie’s Journey, located on a rural 32 acre campus where they can focus on the individual needs of the clients they are serving.
The residential treatment center is named for Judd-Irick’s childhood friend Josh Jenkins, who was always a source of inspiration and support, even in her darkest hours.
It’s been a long road from the opening of the first center, at Summit in 2016, to the Olive Hill location and Jenkie’s Journey, but it’s been worthwhile for the mother and daughter duo who founded the centers. Bond-Judd said that Kieara has been very vocal about offering services in Olive Hill from the moment they started, but she was more hesitant about opening one in the community where they lived.
“It’s hard to work in a community that you live in,” she said. “Because everyone has their own thought processes about who you are as an individual in the community, and they also start worrying, if they come for services, ‘Are they going to tell someone what I tell them?’”
That is not an issue, though, both Judd-Irick and Bond-Judd assured. They take personal privacy very seriously.
“We take HIPAA very seriously,” Bond-Judd said. “We don’t talk about our clients outside the office.”
With Jenkie’s Journey, the residential program, clients are assured their privacy at the remote location.
“It’s a residential women’s facility,” Judd-Irick explained of the separate program which is a subsidiary company of A Center 4 Change. “It’s a 180 day program… named after one of my best friends who passed away.”
“He (Josh Jenkins) made a huge impact on the community, and a lot of us individually,” Judd-Irick continued. “He was such an awesome person, full of life. He never failed to make you smile, even if he was having a bad day too.”
She said she wanted to name the program for him as a way to honor the legacy of his impact on the community.
Bond-Judd said they were going over a section of road that the kids called Rollercoaster Hill, which Kieara and Josh used to like to drive over for the feeling of the rollercoaster type drop, when Judd-Irick turned to her and said, “Mom, it isn’t just about the people we save, it’s about honoring the people we’ve lost. I want to call it Jenkie’s Journey. And that’s how the name was born.”
While the first facility is a women’s residential center, they hope to add a men’s program in the future. They also hope to offer equine therapy as part of the program at some point.
The motto for the center was also one of Jenkins’ favorite quotes, Kieara said, paraphrased from Irish poet Oscar Wilde.
“Every sinner has a future, and every saint has a past.”
And no one, she said, should let that past define their future.
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