ARCANUM — The Family of God Ministries, in Arcanum, in conjunction with “Speaking Out Against Heroin,” sponsored a public awareness informational session, “Heroin Awareness” Saturday, March 4, at the church.
“Speaking out Against Heroin” is an organization that started with Samantha Wolfe, of Sydney, Ohio, in Dec., 2016.
“This mission is so personal to me,” Wolfe said. “I started this because I lost my son’s father in July, 2016. I watched my son not sleep for a month because he couldn’t grasp the fact that his dad was gone. I watched him crawl into the casket and beg him to wake him up.
“If that wasn’t enough I almost lost my ex-husband to a heroin overdose in December 2016. When I called 911 that evening, I decided I was done letting this drug take the people I care about, and that is exactly what it has done. I got with my church, The First Heavy Metal Church of Christ, in Greenville. I asked, ‘What can I do’?
Family of God Ministries Pastor Dr. Joe LeMaster greeted the crowd.
“There is a heroin epidemic, in case you haven’t heard,” he said. “You must have heard, because you are here. We need to start a discussion and find some solutions. The whole idea is to try to get together and see if we can help each other. This is not a community problem, not a church problem, not an individual family member problem, but a problem for us all.”
According to LeMaster, who has been a pastor at the church for 22 years, this first heroin awareness session was hastily thrown together, in response to a request from a parishioner Russ Troutwine. Troutwine was one of the designated speakers at the event.
“My daughter is a heroin addict, and we’ve been dealing with it for 18 years,” he said. “You never stop loving your kids. We’ve had a hard time, but it wasn’t always that way. People say that kids start drugs because it is in your family. My wife and I, her grandparents, nobody has ever done drugs. But my daughter did, and why I don’t know.
“I brought her up in this church. Time got away from me. I want to read you this. She wrote this to me when she was 7. It says: ‘Happy Fathers Day – Dear father, I’m glad I have a father like you. I thank you for the baby crib. I thank you for having me. Nothing can get between me and you and mom. Do you know that? I love you lots and nothing can get between me and you. You’re loving daughter.’ I keep it out in the barn, and every once in awhile I go out and read it and remember how things were until heroin took her away from me. If I didn’t have God in my life, things would be a lot worse. We have to think of our kids. We have a town here, and this isn’t a police problem, a detective problem, this is our problem in the community, we have to take it back.”
In addition to Troutwine, other speakers included: Samantha Wolfe; Director of Hope in Recovery Jeff Feitshans; Justin Powell, a recovering addict; Darke County Office of the Coroner Chief Medicolegal Death Investigator Joe Van Vickle; Sharon Deschambeau, president of both The Coalition for a Healthy Darke County and the Darke County Chamber of Commerce and Counselor Tisha Sheperd, of Recovery & Wellness Centers Of Mid-west Ohio.
A question and answer period followed the presentation. Some of the questions included: “Doesn’t giving drugs, such as Methadone and Suboxone prolong the addiction?”; “How does Vivitrol work?” “What is out-patient detox?” “Can we work in the school?” “My daughter is in jail and I can’t find her any help. I am afraid they are going to let her out and she is going to die. I don’t know where the hole is in the system.”
Counselor Tisha Sheperd asked the woman which jail her daughter was in.
“Darke County,” the woman replied.
“You come to me and I will go see her – I’m in the jail every week,” Sheperd said. “I see clients all day long in the jail.”
“Is the out-patient program available for juveniles?” another woman asked.
“Yes, my youngest client just turned 13,” Sheperd said.
“Where do you find and how do we administer drug tests to our kids?” a man asked.
“You can go to your pharmacy and order kits,” Van Vickle said. “Your pastor has the internet, you can get on- line to purchase kits. Some are drug-specific and some are not.”
“We need to get the message out so people know that we have a lot of resources in our community,” Sharon Deschambeau, president of The Coalition for a Healthy Darke County said.
“We can use all of these resources, but we have to be active,” Pastor LeMaster said. “We can’t sit back and be passive and expect things to change. You have to get involved your local churches. If you don’t have one, find one that preaches and teaches the word of God.
“We are not expected to get all of the answers tonight,” he said. “Maybe we will get more questions than we have answers, but we can work on getting the answers later on. You can’t help yourself without Christ. He is the answer, and as long as people find salvation, then they can kick the habit. They can do anything they want to through the blood of Jesus Christ.”
EDS NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series titled “Fatal Addiction” that will address the drug problem and effects on residents and resources in Darke County.