When Will Bright passed away in 2014 from an overdose, his mother, Lisa Bright, knew she had to turn her pain into purpose.
She and her husband, Bill, started the Will Bright Foundation to both honor their son and provide others with a safe, supportive environment for their recovery journeys.
As a mother to an individual in recovery, Lisa understood the important roles transportation, housing and workforce development played in maintaining sobriety and building the confidence needed to reenter one’s community. The Will Bright Foundation offers these elements and much more, ultimately creating an ecosystem of critical services in Appalachian Alabama.
Restoration Springs, their home base in Fayette, Alabama, has become a welcoming place for men to start a new chapter, access job training and placement, receive counseling, and be held accountable by their fellow residents. The Fayette community has also rallied around Restoration Springs by by including residents in faith-based service, hosting recovery small groups at local coffee shop The Loft, and offering recovery-friendly work environments.
“We are so grateful to Fayette. We would not be where we are if they didn’t engage with and help mentor our men. It’s an incredible community of giving, loving people.”
Outside of Restoration Springs, the Will Bright Foundation offers scholarships to those unable to afford recovery center intake fees and works with a coalition group, Voices for Non-Opioid Choices, to raise awareness and educate elected officials about this ongoing crisis.
“We want to take down those walls that make you feel like you’re not worthy, that you can’t get a job, that you’ll never get your driver’s license back because of your actions when you’ve been addicted.”
Lisa applied for an ARC INSPIRE grant because she knew she was ready to grow capacity at Restoration Springs. With 126 acres to grow into and overdose-related deaths increasing through the pandemic, the partnership with ARC was a natural fit.
The Will Bright Foundation, in partnership with the University of Alabama, received $356,000 from INSPIRE in 2021. The grant will expand capacity at Restoration Springs to support 45 residents as they recover, re-enter the workforce, and reconnect with their families and communities. In the future, she also hopes to expand their impact to communities of women.
“It’s a blessing. After Will passed away, we knew we wanted to do something. We had no idea- it’s not like we had a five-year strategic plan. We just started taking that first step.”
Learning to Lead
As a newcomer to the nonprofit world, Lisa also applied and was accepted for the inaugural class of ARC’s Appalachian Leadership Institute. An “unbelievable opportunity” to learn from her peers across Appalachia, she credits ALI with developing her leadership skills to run a fast-growing foundation.
“I was a little nervous and unsure about what I’d gotten myself into. But when I started the process and went through the Institute, I realized how important of a role it played for the role that I am presently in.”
ALI not only helped Lisa grow as CEO of the Will Bright Foundation, but also helped her grow into new leadership roles in her community. In 2020, Lisa ran for and won a seat on Trussville, Alabama’s City Council.
“Mrs. Lisa…she really does have a servant’s heart,” says Restoration Springs resident Jon Elinburg.
Lisa’s commitment to serving, and breaking barriers for, the recovery community is exactly why ARC is proud to support her work and professional growth. Addressing the substance use disorder crisis is a major challenge for Appalachia, but leaders like Lisa are making progress every single day.
Watch the video above for more from Lisa and Jon. ARC thanks them for sharing their personal stories.