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FOR AND AGAINST: First Contact Ministry's treatment center

First Contact addresses neighbors' concerns


To the Lightning:

First Contact Addiction Ministries began with three families who were suffering from the ravages of drug addiction within their family. We quickly realized that there were many other families desperately seeking help to save their loved ones from the grip of this social ill. We began learning the magnitude of the damage and destruction addiction is causing. Not only is it destroying our families, it is deteriorating the very fabric of our community. We have come to realize that this crisis is so ominous no single or multiple institutions can deal with it. Our public services are working hard and doing everything they can to deal with this crisis, but it has become an epidemic of unimaginable proportions. It has spawned new paradigms in our small community we have not in the past had to deal with on such a scale; homelessness, death, addicts raising addicts, grandparents raising grandchildren, our jails becoming detox and rehab centers.
Mud Creek Baptist Church ministers to these families and recognizes the enormity of the issue and has stepped up to provide FCM land to build a “life enhancement” recovery center across from the church on Erkwood Drive. The objective is to house 10 women, 24 men and 10 resident staff members to provide recovery services for our community. The recovery center is a faith-based center modeled after a 30-year-old center in Leesburg Fla. This center's success is due in large part because it is connected to a local church (First Baptist Church Leesburg) and is adjacent to the church. The church is heavily invested in the recovery and wellbeing of the men and women who come to the center which makes their chance of success greater. The center we are planning will have the support of Mud Creek and many other churches in the community, counseling centers, medical partners and businesses. These partnerships will drastically improve our clients’ chance of breaking the bondage of addiction.
Our community can no longer depend on our government and public institutions to manage this alone. We as a community must come together and do what we can to turn this around. We began FCM (First Contact Ministries) to help the addicted and their families and we have been in the trenches for 5 years battling this darkness but much more needs to be done.
We realize there are concerns in the local neighborhoods, so we would like to address those concerns.
1. Commercial property: This recovery center will not be a commercial property. FCM is a non-profit 501c3 ministry supported by our local churches, businesses and medical partners.
2. Security: Those coming to the center will be clean. They will already be detoxed before they get to the facility.
A. Potential clients will come voluntarily; no one will be forced
B. Potential clients will be tested and thoroughly screened; sex offenders and violent criminals will not be allowed.
C. Mud Creek Church is one of the most secure buildings in the neighborhood and this facility will be the same.
3. Land Values: According to our research there will be no negative affect on property values.
4. Compatibility with the neighborhood: This neighborhood is like every neighborhood; the addicted are here. This center will be a beacon of hope to the neighborhood. This center is consistent with and will enhance the ministry of Mud Creek Church which has been the center of the community for over 200 years.

First Contact Ministries will work hard to be a good neighbor, one that our community will be proud of and engage in supporting. Our objective will be to provide hope and help to our community.

Craig Halford
President, First Contact Ministries


A response to Craig Halford


President Halford:

In your Sept. 19 Letter to the Lightning, you wrote passionately about your Ministry and the need to confront addiction. You also addressed neighborhood concerns and vowed to work to be a good neighbor.

I have experienced the emotional and physical stress, financial burden and untimely death of loved ones due to addiction in my family. Others in the Erkwood/Rutledge area have similar stories, so we are well aware of the need to confront the drug crisis.

We commend you, the Mud Creek Church leadership and its parishioners for your vision and willingness and we wish you success at the right location. However, we do feel you have a responsibility to complete your mission with minimum impact on our neighborhood.

The Hippocratic oath advises: “First, Do no harm,” and through lack of understanding or indifference you have already raised significant concern in the neighborhood just by announcing your plans to build your facility in the neighborhood.

My home in a middle class Atlanta neighborhood was burglarized 3 times in the 4 years I lived there. The police said they were typical drug user break-ins, seeking prescription drugs, cash, jewelry or handguns. My financial loss was minor compared to the loss of the feeling security I suffered. Anyone who has had a home invasion will identify with the lasting sense of unease that remains after a burglary. Your announcement awakened that unease in me and in others. In some, the unease approaches fear.

Your state: “There will be no negative impact on property values,” yet my search turned a number of articles that indicate a reduction of values in neighborhoods near a treatment center. So I believe that your statement is misleading and suggest that readers search the Internet and draw their own conclusions. I might add that I am aware of two lost neighborhood property sales in which your proposed facility was a factor. 

You advise that your facility will be secure and your potential clients will be carefully screened.
Estimates of the recidivism rate for drug users range from 40 to 60%. A client who chooses to leave your facility during his/her 7 month stay will find a way but will likely be without money or transportation. We neighbors are in the flight path.

We commend your plan to screen out Sex offenders and violent criminals but expect that many addicts have a history of larceny/petty theft but have never been caught or their records are sealed because they are minors.

In summary:
Your proposed facility will affect our quality of life and has already made a negative financial impact.
Affordable building sites are available in non-residential Henderson, County areas. and our Steering committee located one for you. We recognize that it would be convenient for your facility to be near the church but that convenience comes at considerable cost to your neighbors.

Please don’t build your treatment facility in our neighborhood or in any other Henderson County residential neighborhood.
It belongs in a non-residential area.

Glenn Forsythe