By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(June 4, 2020) The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t just sent people to the hospital and closed businesses, it also has disrupted the routines of recovering addicts who were already to stay on the path toward a healthier lifestyle.
Hope4Recovery Executive Director and Founder Patrice “Tish” Ottey said the recovery house has been fortunate in that it has not had to reduce residents because of covid-19.
Hope4Recovery, the first recovery house in Worcester County, opened on Oct. 28, 2018, on Old Ocean City Boulevard in Berlin. The nonprofit serves recovering male addicts.
There are 11 residents and a live-in house manager, she said.
“They share restrooms, they share the kitchen, they share bedrooms, they share chores and responsibilities within the house, so they are a family in almost every sense of the word short of being blood relatives,” Ottey said. “They take care of each other.
“Respect is a huge thing that we talk about every week in our house meetings,” she continued.
The Hope4Recovery Board of Directors have taken precautions to ensure the safety of residents during the pandemic.
“We instituted screenings and cleaning measurements, so they do their temperatures twice a day, and then we have a specific cleaning regimen that is done three times a day,” Ottey said.
Ottey added that cleaning supplies and toiletries are always needed at the facility.
“We supply some of the cleaning supplies, the basics, and the toiletries they take care of on their own,” she said. “We do toiletry bags that have been donated from Worcester Goes Purple, so when they walk in, they have something.”
Residents of the house are required to attend a minimum of four meetings a week, whether they’re in a church or the Atlantic Club in West Ocean City, Ottey said.
The Atlantic Club, located at11827 Ocean Gateway, has continued meetings during the pandemic with limited occupancy of 10 people. Everyone in attendance must wear masks to comply with social distancing guidelines.
“We tried to allow the residents to go [to the Atlantic Club],” Ottey said. “We did shut that down during the heat of the pandemic just because if one person showed symptoms or tested positive, then everyone would have had to been quarantined.”
As an alternative, Ottey said they bought a Smart TV so residents could participate in Zoom meetings.
“Meetings and routine are so important in early recovery or in any recovery as well as having that support of your sponsor and the fellowship,” Ottey said.
Last week, residents could begin attending the Atlantic Club again. In addition, someone from the Atlantic Club runs an outdoors AA meeting on Wednesday nights at the Hope4Recovery house.
Hope4Recovery works with Worcester Goes Purple, which has been active for about a year. The project strives to engage the community in preventing substance abuse.
“Worcester Goes Purple is a project to bring education and awareness about opioid addiction and really all addiction … and promote healthy life choices and to let people know about recovery options,” said Events Coordinator Debbie Smullen.
Worcester Goes Purple is funded by a grant from Opioid Operational Command Center that was obtained by the Worcester County Board of Education. The project is also involves the Worcester County Health Department and Atlantic General Hospital.
Donations to Worcester Goes Purple are filtered “into other programs within the community that can use the financial assistance,” Smullen said. Aside from Hope4Recovery, the project is involved with Worcester County Warriors Against Opioid Addiction and the Atlantic Club.
When several of the residents at Hope4Recovery lost their jobs, Worcester Goes Purple found activities for them to keep their minds occupied.
Through fundraisers and funding from RALI Maryland, Worcester Goes Purple has donated AA and NA books, materials to start a vegetable garden, gaming systems and a new TV.
“We bought a basketball hoop for them to play basketball outside because they haven’t been able to go to the gym,” Smullen added. “We’re just trying to find things to keep them busy, to keep them in recovery because their routine has become so different.”
Also, the project has bought Hope4Recovery residents work clothes.
“[Smullen is] just ingenious with ideas,” Ottey said. “She’s so valuable to all of our guys.”
Recently, Worcester Goes Purple had “Celebrate Your Recovery” parties at the recovery houses in Worcester and Wicomico counties.
“We got them a cake just to let them know that we are celebrating the fact that they are in recovery,” Smullen said. “It’s very hard right now with the social distancing. One of the things for people in recovery is that they depend on routine as well as associating with other people that are supporting them.”
Ottey and her husband own three recovery facilities in Wicomico County—The Douglas K. Hamilton House for Recovery, The Stricklin House and The Timothy O’Malley Women’s House for Recovery.
Between the men and women at all the facilities, bicycles and bus passes are needed to help residents commute to work.
The NOEL Community in Ocean City donates bus passes and food to Hope4Recovery.
Similarly, Diakonia, a nonprofit located on Old Bridge Road in Ocean City, provides Hope4Recovery residents access to food.
“Diakonia is always amazing, because we do have individuals that come in with no food stamps, so we’ll go down there, and they’ll set us up with food for the new individual,” Ottey said.
Hope4Recovery has also received support from SonRise Church, which has campuses in Berlin and Salisbury.
Ottey said she is in the process of applying for grants to expand Hope4Recovery’s beds.
“We never have a bed empty for more than a day or two,” she said.
The plan adds two bedrooms and four beds and another bathroom and expands the kitchen.
In addition, she hopes to create an all-encompassing campus in the back building now that the Grace Center for Maternal and Women’s Health has outgrown the space.
Other resources available in Worcester County for people recovering from substance abuse are Worcester County Health Department’s Intensive Outpatient Program and mental health services, which include referral, treatment, consultation, and education.
Ocean City Maryland Area Fellowship Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous has an updated list of virtual and in-person AA meetings. For more information, visit ocaa.org or call the 24-hour hotline at 410-600-5219.
Worcester Goes Purple is planning events for later this season, including a floating lantern memorial in Ocean Pines called Worcester Goes Purple in the Pines on Aug. 29 and a Walk for Recovery on the Ocean City Boardwalk on Sept. 12.
“I personally have really missed being able to be out in the public and to talk to people,” Smullen said. “It’s amazing the number of people that have been affected by addiction, either through themselves or a family member or a close friend.”
For more information, contact Ottey at firstname.lastname@example.org or Smullen at DASmullen@worcesterk12.org.