West Virginia University Research Corporation: Inspiring Hope in the Mountain State

West Virginia, though improving in many measures, has the most drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people of any other state. Fortunately, the Mountain State also has an incredible host of ARC partners, local leaders, and community members committed to overcoming this challenge. This list includes West Virginia University Research Corporation and the Institute for Community and Rural Health (WVU ICRH), who together are using $500,000 from ARC’s INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative to launch the West Virginia Inspiring Hope (WVIH) program.  

WVIH will use their INSPIRE grant to enhance and expand the recovery-to-work ecosystem in seven counties by addressing service gaps for individuals affected by a substance use disorder. By leveraging a network of partnerships across the project’s service area, WVIH will provide training, job placement, recovery treatment, housing, ongoing services like transportation, and other resources needed to successfully obtain and retain employment. A majority of the counties served are considered economically distressed (Fayette, Webster, Clay, Summers, and Nicholas), with Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties being considered transitional and at-risk, respectively.  

Inspiring Economic Growth

Like their fellow INSPIRE awardees, WVIH aims to address both economic issues and substance abuse by helping individuals reenter the labor force and find a sense of purpose while contributing to community economic growth. As participants make this important transition, they’ll have access to Community Outreach Workers and Peer Support Specialists, who are trained and certified to provide counseling that is often based in lived experience. Individuals ages 18-50 years of age can participate in WVIH. 

WVU ICRH’s INSPIRE grant also includes a range of subawardees, each of which will help execute the program and, ultimately, inspire hope in communities. These partners include Fruits of Labor, Seneca Health Services, and God’s Way Home. Fruits of Labor provides education, training and employment for individuals in recovery from addiction; they are also an ARC POWER partner and recipient of the Development District Association of Appalachia Humanitarian award. Seneca Health Services is a non-profit licensed behavioral health provider serving children, adolescents and adults with mental health, substance use or intellectual disabilities. God’s Way Home is a non-profit organization that manages a recovery home in western Greenbrier County, providing recovery coaching and support to improve access and retention to recovery services for residents.  

The partnership displayed through West Virginia Inspiring Hope demonstrates the ability of Mountain State communities to come together and move forward. Issues like substance use disorder and economic transition are closely intertwined in Appalachia, meaning ARC INSPIRE projects have the unique opportunity to address both. The connection of treatment, support services and meaningful employment is pivotal for Appalachians reentering and remaining in the workforce and the Region’s overall economic progress, as well as in moving them towards a happier, healthier, and more contributive life.  

Learn more about ARC INSPIRE awardees and the initiative’s role in addressing Appalachia’s substance abuse crisis.