If you have been following MDC during COVID-19, you know that the building we purchased in December on West Fifth Avenue was used to meet a very unique community need. During the months of April and May, the future location of The Gateway, Recovery Community Center, was used as The Guest House. During this time, over 60 of Knoxville’s homeless neighbors were given a safe place to isolate pending their coronavirus test results or to remain in quarantine if positive. This helped prevent the spread of coronavirus and we were pleased to have worked with our homeless service agencies to provide the space. MDC was very pleased that we had not started renovation of the building and pushed out our renovation timeline accordingly.
Unfortunately, another vulnerable population is not fairing so well in our community and those are our neighbors who have substance use disorders. Addiction, by its very nature, is a disease of isolation. The COVID-19 pandemic forced individuals to stay apart and for critical face to face support services to discontinue. A key to maintaining sobriety early in the recovery process is to connect with others in recovery through sponsorships, support group meetings and group social activities and to be engaged in meaningful employment. Unfortunately, many individuals lost their jobs, causing additional mental distress and feelings of hopelessness.
According to the Knox County Medical Examiner’s office, suspected drug overdose deaths in 2020 compared to this time last year (as of the end of June), have increased by nearly 23 percent. While we were fighting the pandemic, the epidemic of substance misuse was raging. We did a wonderful job keeping our coronavirus related deaths down to 5, on the other hand, 35 individuals died in March, 27 in April, 37 in May and 26 in June of suspected drug overdoses. Each of these 125 individuals, represents families in our community who have lost a loved one to a preventable disease.
WE CAN DRIVE THESE NUMBERS DOWN! There is not a more urgent time for our community to come together and build a center where connection, healing and hope can happen for individuals and families. The Gateway renovation needs to happen quickly. By partnering with MDC, you can help build bridges to lasting recovery through recovery coaching, access to support groups, art and music therapy, trainings for individuals and families, access to credit repair and employment services, as well as opportunities for connection to additional education and job training programs.
We need a physical place for all of this to come together. The building is in a perfect location, staff and volunteers are ready to serve, we need you to come alongside us to push aside the stigma of guilt and shame and open up life-changing opportunities. MDC recently received the federal Building Communities of Recovery grant to cover the operations for the next 3 years. We are the first agency in Tennessee to receive this funding. A solid foundation is in place, but physical space is our only limitation.
With your help, we can unlock endless possibilities of individuals and families. To invest in or learn more about The Gateway, visit Our Gateway page.