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Golf tourney to benefit women’s shelter

Golf tourney to benefit women’s shelter

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The Lighthouse Home tenant Maureen Carson, second from left, shares a laugh with Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris, left, The Lighthouse Home board member Shirley McAvoy, third from left, and Vanessa Scaife, founder and director of The Lighthouse Home, as they visit her room on Wednesday at the nonprofit home.

BY JENNY WHITE
Staff Writer

Thursday, October 24, 2019

A local nonprofit group helping women get on their feet recovering from drug addiction is getting a helping hand from men and women in their golf cleats.

Belmonte Lake Golf Club and the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce are hosting a golf tournament benefiting The Lighthouse Home on Nov. 8. A single player can register for $125 and a team of four can register to compete for $400. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 8 and the shotgun start is at 12:30 p.m.

Interested golfers can pre-register at rockymountchamber.org or by calling volunteer Shirley McAvoy at 252-904-4793.

The Lighthouse Home Director Vanessa Scaife has been running the organization that comes to the aid of local women recovering from substance abuse for 19 years. The home on Eastern Avenue in Rocky Mount is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offers shelter to women who are in transition, working toward the next chapter of their lives. The shelter provides a structured and supportive environment for women who need a fresh start while struggling to fight back against substance abuse and subsequent life events that left them homeless.

“Drug addiction makes you hopeless and helpless, and even after you’ve detoxed and the drugs are out of your system, it can be hard to change your thinking — to see the possibilities for your life and to forgive all the things you’ve squandered,” Scaife said. “I know those feelings. I’ve lived those feelings. And I’m here to show women that come here how to come through what they’re going through and heal. I help them feel hope again.”

Scaife said she’s grateful for the work of her board members and friends like David Farris, president and CEO of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Having some assistance in raising money to fund The Lighthouse is vital to its existence. We’ve scraped by all these years based on my income from my ‘real job’ and a few other supporters like the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rocky Mount, but the burden was getting heavy,” Scaife said. “To have others ready and willing to help support The Lighthouse Home means so much to me. I feel more hopeful than I’ve felt in a long time. I think David and some new supporters we’ve gotten — like Tim Wilke at Belmonte — get what we’re doing. And they care, they really care.”

Scaife credits her new board president Shirley McAvoy with infusing the nonprofit organization with new energy and determination.

“Shirley has been my biggest cheerleader and advocate for the women in the home for a while now,” Scaife said. “Her compassion and spirit is a gift to me and The Lighthouse. She truly understands our mission and said, ‘I’m going to do something to help’ — and here we are, having a golf tournament and making community partnerships and raising money to help these women in our community. Shirley is special.”

The house can shelter up to seven women and has one temporary bed that can serve as a crisis bed for short-term purposes. The women cook for themselves, clean the home and go to therapy classes, AA meetings and job training classes. The goal for the women is to become healthy and self-sufficient, moving out on their own when they’re ready. There is no one-size-fits-all timeline and Scaife works with each woman individually to establish goals and milestones. Many of the women in the shelter are fighting opioid addiction.

Farris said he’s committed to The Lighthouse Home and feels the work Scaife offers women fighting substance abuse is important.

“I read about what The Lighthouse Home was doing earlier this summer, and my wife and I wanted to learn more. We were both moved by Vanessa’s compassion and devotion to helping these women make it and become productive members of our community,” Farris said.

Farris noted that the opioid epidemic has touched many families in the Twin Counties and it’s a problem that must be addressed on a community level.

“There are many ways to help people with addiction issues, but Vanessa’s approach to heal them in a home, with one-on-one compassion, is something I’m really impressed with. I want to help her succeed — to help them all succeed,” he said.

McAlvoy is excited about sharing the work that Vanessa and The Lighthouse Home does in the community.

“I am so inspired by what Vanessa has done, and I think other people will be, too,” McAlvoy said. “The women Vanessa helps come to The Lighthouse and can take a deep breath. They’re not scared. They can put the focus on their recovery. It’s not just a shelter. It’s a home, as long as they need it.”

Farris and McAlvoy said the golf tournament is a first step for securing funds to support The Lighthouse — and spreading the word about what The Lighthouse Home does.

“I feel strongly that The Lighthouse deserves more community support and encourage local businesses and individuals to support it and participate in the golf tournament,” Farris said. “I’m excited to be a part of helping Vanessa and The Lighthouse offer even more women support and shelter in our community.”

Donations also are being accepted from non-golfers and sponsorship opportunities are available. All golfers will get lunch and beverages at the event. A hole-in-one prize, a car, will be offered by Joey Griffin Kia.

Lighthouse Home seeks volunteers

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Shirley McAvoy, left, and Vanessa Scaife go over ways to obtain connections and secur financial help Tuesday at The Lighthouse Home in Rocky Mount.

BY JENNY WHITE
Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

There is a lighthouse in the Twin Counties.

It’s not on the river and has nothing to do with leading boats to safety.

The Lighthouse Home, on Eastern Avenue in Rocky Mount, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offers shelter to women who are in transition and need a place to call home as they work toward the next chapter of their lives.

It provides a structured and supportive environment for women who need a fresh start while struggling to fight back against substance abuse and subsequent life events that left them without shelter. These women come from all walks of life: Young women and elders, scholars and high school dropouts, locals and even those who have traveled a great distance to start over.

Vanessa Scaife, director of The Lighthouse Home, is the light; the beacon that welcomes and offers refuge to women who have gone far too long without it and are looking for a safe port to heal and soak up strength for the battle of their lives.

“Drug addiction makes you hopeless and helpless and even after you’ve detoxed and the drugs are out of your system, it can be hard to change your thinking — to see the possibilities for your life and to forgive all the things you’ve squandered,” Scaife said. “I know those feelings. I’ve lived those feelings. And I’m here to show women that come here how to come through what they’re going through and heal. I help them feel hope again.”

The Lighthouse Home is having an open house event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday to offer the community a chance to see the home and meet some of the women who have moved on and up after staying at The Lighthouse Home.

The house can shelter up to seven women and has one temporary bed that can serve as a crisis bed for short-term purposes. The women cook for themselves, clean the home and go to therapy classes, AA meetings and job training classes.

The goal for the women is to become healthy and self-sufficient, moving out on their own when they’re ready. There is no one-size-fits-all timeline and Scaife works with each woman individually to establish goals and milestones.

Volunteer Shirley McAvoy of Rocky Mount says the board of directors and core group of volunteers for The Lighthouse Home are hoping once the community comes in and sees what Scaife and the home is about, they’ll want to help. McAvoy said the more help Scaife has from volunteers, the more time she can spend with the girls at the house.

“I wouldn’t be good helping the girls — I can’t do what Vanessa does, but I can help in other ways so Vanessa can do what she’s best at,” she said.

McAvoy assists with communications and maintaining the website, thelighthousehome.com.

Scaife said her biggest supporters are her church family at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rocky Mount.

“They’ve pretty much been the only constant supporter for the last 10 years. They are a big part of who we are,” she said.

Scaife opened the home to local women in need of shelter about 20 years ago. She was recovering from years of addiction, saved money to purchase her home and felt called to share her experience of recovery with others.

“I just remember looking back at my hopelessness, and thinking. ‘I could show other women how to get out of that pit,’”

So Scaife starting sharing. She shares her home and her experiences. She shares her resources and her purpose in life with some of the most forgotten and given-up-on people in the community.

Scaife and McAvoy agreed helping these women, slowly, one at a time, is the key to healing entire families — and hopefully, communities.

“A woman that has stayed here and is successful leaves and goes back out into the community as a productive, healthy person — that’s the person who reaches out and is a beacon to another person. Her life has changed because of another human being, who also was in her place before her,” Scaife said. “There is something a person who has been through the recovery process, who has been an addict, can offer someone currently addicted that no one else can do, can understand.

“Women that stay here, they pass it on. They would be able to reach out and be a light to another family, to offer hope.”

McAvoy said the home is always in need of bus tokens, linens, food and pantry supplies and toiletries.

“It’s a remarkable thing Vanessa does at this house,” McAvoy said. “The women come here and can take a deep breath. They’re not scared. They can put the focus on their recovery. It’s not just a shelter. It’s a home, as long as they need it.”

Scaife said she hopes that when people come to the open house, it will be easier to understand what she does and the role The Lighthouse Home plays in the community.

“There is a sense of forgiveness and non-judgement here. Addiction is a disease,” Scaife said. “I tell women that come to this home, ‘You are no longer the problem in society, you can make a change. Don’t be afraid.’

“It’s a slow healing, recovering from addiction. But if you have a safe place to do it, it sticks. It changes something inside of them — not just waiting out the physical part of getting off drugs, but healing, from the inside, out.”

For more information about the open house and address for The Lighthouse Home, call Scaife at 252-314-0975 or check out their website at www.thelighthousehome.com.

 

Area confronts growing opioid epidemic

Area confronts growing opioid epidemic

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Jacquea Ritter, left, and Erin Hipp, right, speak about their substance use disorders Thursday at The Lighthouse Home, a Rocky Mount shelter for women in recovery.

By AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

There is a killer in the Twin Counties claiming the lives of dozens of residents each year and threatening the lives of dozens of others each month.

This killer is not human and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race or economic standing. Statistically, its victims are more likely to be white or American Indian males between the ages of 25-54, but it strikes newborns as well as the elderly and affects people of all genders, races, creeds and backgrounds.

This killer is found in many medicine cabinets throughout the Twin Counties, for it can be a friend when properly controlled. This killer is opioid drugs known by such names as oxycodone (such as OxyContin®),  hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®), methadone and several others. It also includes heroin, which has regained its status as as drug of choice for many.

Two weeks ago, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office reported that four opioid overdoses had occurred in Nash County in a 36-hour period and one of those had resulted in a death.

Sadly, such occurrences are all too common. Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that opioids killed roughly 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Approximately 15,000 of those deaths — roughly half of all opioid-related deaths — involved a prescription opioid.

Gov. Roy Cooper has recently drawn attention to the impact of opioid misuse in North Carolina.

“Opioid addiction is devastating families across the nation,” Cooper said in a press release. “This is a uniquely challenging crisis for our communities and will require a new level of collaboration between law enforcement, treatment-providers and those in recovery.”

Data released through Cooper’s office in May indicates the impact of the opioid crisis on North Carolina. In 2015, there were more than 1,100 opioid-related deaths in the state, a 73 percent increase from 2005.

The Twin Counties has seen a greater percentage increase in opioid-related deaths during that same time period. In 2005, Edgecombe County reported three deaths compared with six deaths in 2015, a 100 percent increase. Nash County deaths have jumped 450 percent in the same period — from two reported deaths in 2005 to 11 in 2015.

“The problem is very much reflected in Nash County as it is the state and in the nation,” said William Hill, Nash County human services director.

Overdoses from opioids now occur so routinely that most first responders carry naloxone, a drug that can immediately reverse an opioid overdose that is sold under the brand name Narcan, at all times. So far this year, more than 113 emergency calls in Nash County have been coded as overdoses. However, some patients seek help without calling for aid. In 2015, 632 patients were admitted to Nash UNC Health Care emergency department with opioid or heroin overdoses.

Many health care workers are reluctant to discuss the issue for fear of being blamed for the crisis. No doctors in this area would respond to requests for an interview. One local pharmacy was willing to discuss treatments for heroin overdose, but demanded that Telegram staff members leave the building when the discussion of prescription opioids came up.

To be clear, prescription opioids are legal. They are valuable and even necessary for some patients undergoing cancer treatments or end-of-life care. They are a blessing to patients recovering from short-term pain caused by surgeries, accidents or other painful processes. Doctors primarily prescribe opioids because they care for their patients and do not want to see them suffer. They can be a valuable tool in the arsenal of modern medicine, and most patients taking them as advised for a short time under a doctor’s clear instructions have nothing to fear.

However, the CDC says that changing health care policies at the turn of the millennium had a tremendous affect on the development of the opioid health crisis, which has now reached epidemic proportions.

According to the CDC: “Prescription opioid-related overdose deaths and admissions for treatment of opioid use disorder have increased in parallel with increases in opioids prescribed in the United States, which quadrupled from 1999 to 2010  This increase was primarily because of an increase in the use of opioids to treat chronic noncancer pain.”

Experts say much of the reason for the increase is that the Veterans Health Administration lauched an initiative in 1999 known as the “Pain as the Fifth Vital Sign” initiative. This new approach called for health care providers to routinely ask patients about pain levels and made pain management a measure of physician success.

The results of this initiative and the subsequent pressure it placed on health care professionals is that opioid prescriptions have increased from from 116 million in 1999 to 207 million in 2013. In North Carolina in 2016, more than 82 precriptions for opioids were written for every 100 persons in the state. In Edgecombe County, that rate was 78.2, up dramatically from 54.7 the year before. In Nash County, the 2016 rate was well above the state average at 92.3 However, this was down from 2015 when 107.8 prescriptions were written for every 100 people.

Erin Hipp, 32, is now a resident of the The Lighthouse Home, Inc, where she is living as she strives to recover from her substance use disorder and some associated mental health issues. Hipp said she tried marijuana when she was young but developed the disorder after she was prescribed opioids.

“I had a bad back and the doctor prescribed me morphine,” Hipp said. “And I got addicted to it and ended up having to buy pills off the street. I can remember one time I dropped my kids off to day care at 9 in the morning and went home and got high and fell asleep. I woke up at 10 o’clock at night with the day care worker knocking at my door to drop the kids off. I ended up losing those kids.”

Hipp said she tried heroin, which is cheaper, but it scared her.

“I know plenty of people who died from heroin, and my sister nearly died twice from it. The heroin is really bad,” Hipp said.

Hipp said she later moved on to a combination of crack cocaine and opioids, which “messed her up really bad.” She advised others to stay away from drugs.

“It’s not worth it. Your life is more important than that high you’re gonna get. That high is gonna kill you eventually. It’s only going to lead you one of two places: jail or dead,” Hipp said.

Deaths from heroin have increased in recent days. However, a look at the overall figures for the Twin Counties reveals that prescription opioids still account for the majority of deaths. According to the N.C Department of Health and Human Services, Nash County had 69 “opioid poisoning deaths” from 1999-2015 and 60 of those were related to prescription opioids. Edgecombe County has had 42 “opioid poisoning deaths” in that same period and 36 of those were related to prescription drug use.

The scope of the problem in the Twin Counties is clear. Over the next four days, the Telegram will examine different aspects of the issue in order to educate the community on the problem and the solutions that can be found in this area.

Light House Home, Inc. regains non-profit status

Lighthouse Home regains nonprofit status

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Rena Hill, left, and Lighthouse Home Director Vanessa Rorie stand inside the kitchen of the women’s shelter.

By Philip Sayblack
Staff Writer

A local women’s shelter is celebrating after recently regaining its nonprofit status.

The Lighthouse Home Inc., at 1016 Eastern Avenue, recently received notification from the Internal Revenue Service that it has regained its status as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Director Vanessa Rorie has been operating the house for the past 17 years. She said the house serves as a safe haven for women who are homeless and recovering from drug addiction or other circumstances.

Rorie said the Lighthouse Home lost its non-profit status approximately four years ago because it was not bringing in any funding. She said she started saving last summer to be able to pay the $850 fee that is included with the application for organizations wishing to be considered nonprofits, adding it took a lot of determination.

“It was extremely stressful saving the money and waiting to find out if we had regained our nonprofit status — but I’m a hustler,” Rorie said. “I worked hard and made it happen.”

She said she was overwhelmed when the IRS’ letter came declaring the house a nonprofit organization again.

“I was so happy that I was on the floor crying,” Rorie said. “The women living in the house had to pick me up off the floor. We’re all so excited. The whole community had been waiting for this.”

Rorie stressed that now that Lighthouse Home has regained its nonprofit status, she has started reaching out to businesses throughout the area. She added donations to the shelter will go primarily toward covering the cost of daily operations.

“We have to be able to feed the women, keep them warm, buy medications, etc.” Rorie said.

Though she didn’t have a fundraising goal set now that the shelter has regained its nonprofit status, Rorie said she hopes the shelter could raise at least $100,000 this year.

Six women currently live at Lighthouse Home Inc. A seventh is expected to move in soon, Rorie said.

Shelter director finds hope in tenants

Shelter director finds hope in tenants

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Tammy Cannon, center, a tenant of the Lighthouse Home, talks with a housemate that didn’t want to be identified on Friday along with Founder and Director Vanessa Scaife Rorie, right, at the nonprofit home.

By Corey Davis
Staff Writer

For more than 10 years, Vanessa Scaife Rorie, director of The Lighthouse Home Inc. has created a safe environment inside a house in Rocky Mount for women who are homeless and recovering from addiction.

Ironically, in the past few months, Rorie has leaned on the women she helps to get on their feet again, after becoming blind in both of her eyes.

“When the women at the Lighthouse realized the severity of the illness, they became more spiritual beings, so I wouldn’t be afraid,” Rorie said. “I could feel them unifying in the home and extending more support to a new resident, who is fighting alcoholism. When I lost my sight, that should’ve caused the doors to close, but it didn’t happen that way. The women became my sight. I wasn’t losing anything; it was an even exchange.”

While she continues to take in women struggling with substance abuse, Rorie said the majority of the women living in the house are homeless, including Donna Henry, who has been in the house for about 10 months.

Despite having a bachelor’s degree in business, Henry said, there were several unfortunate occurrences which resulted in her ending up at The Lighthouse Home. She got laid off from her job, evicted from her apartment and suffered medical issues.

Henry is on the verge of losing her things in storage because she cannot pay the storage bill.

“I really got depressed and someone told me about Vanessa,” she said. “I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be accepted because I didn’t have an addiction, but she took me in. I do work one day a week and I try to pull my weight around here as well. All the women around here are sort of like sisters.”

Not only is Rorie the director, but she also is like a counselor and motherly figure, too, Henry said.

“My goal is to try to find a good job, so I can take care of myself again, which would open up a spot for another woman in need to have my place,” she said.

Rorie, who has been a licensed massage therapist for the past two years to bring in income, said the main priority for The Lighthouse Home is being reinstated as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. She said it would help with urgent needs for the house such as finishing repairs in the bathrooms.

“Saving $800 for the nonprofit application fee is now taking a backseat,” Rorie said. “Friends, family and my Unitarian Universalist fellowship have donated house supplies to take some of the financial burden down. My medication expenses for my eyes are the biggest challenge, and holding onto the new resident struggling with alcoholism is a challenge. But if anyone needs to be there it is her, a woman in the dark. There is plenty of light to to go around. Time, encouragment, food or anything to secure the stability of the home is needed.”

Rehab home seeks help with utility bills

Rehab home seeks help with utility bills

By Darla SlipkeFriday, December 23, 2011

“It’s given me the strength to endure what I didn’t think I could endure.”

ETTA THOMPSON
Lighthouse Home resident

Sharion Richardson was 22 years old the first time her uncle introduced her to cocaine.

Since then, she has gone months or even years at a time without using, but she always has come back to the drug.

“It takes me away from feeling,” said Richardson, now 44.

She relapsed Dec. 16.

Afterward, a friend persuaded her to call Vanessa Scaife Rorie, founder and director of the Lighthouse Home.

Women come to her when they are broken, distraught or have given up on life.

Scaife Rorie helps them heal by giving them a home and support.

Nine women, soon to be 10, live in the blue four-bedroom, two-bathroom house on Eastern Avenue.

Scaife Rorie and her business partner, Elnora Birth, pay most of the $60,000 it costs to run the house on an annual basis. Scaife Rorie even took on a part-time job to help pay the bills.

She’s asking for the public’s help this winter.

The Lighthouse Home is struggling to pay its utility bills. Scaife Rorie said they would appreciate donations during the next couple of months to help keep the house warm.

Some women support the house by paying rent, but many do not have jobs. It’s hard for many of them to find jobs, especially in this tough economy, Scaife Rorie said. She doesn’t turn people away who can’t pay.

“We’re struggling but we’re making it because we have to have this home for the next person,” Scaife Rorie said.

She bought the house in 2001, after she finished a drug and alcohol rehab program. She said she didn’t like being alone, and she got a good deal on the house.

It seemed to be the universe’s way of telling her she should use it to help others, Scaife Rorie said.

She called the house the Lighthouse Home because she was in the dark when she was using drugs and alcohol. She wanted this place to be a beacon of light for other women. Scaife Rorie said she added the word home because that’s what it is.

“The word home is so important,” she said. “I think everyone deserves a home, a comfort.”

The women can stay as long as they need.

Richardson, who moved into the home on Tuesday, has lived at the Lighthouse Home twice before. This time is different, Richardson said.

“I want to really dig down deep inside and see what it is that keeps me going back to it (cocaine),” Richardson said. “I know it will kill me.”

She said she knows if anyone can help, Scaife Rorie can.

“I think I can do a lot of things that I can’t,” Richardson said. “She knows all about that.”

Richardson choked up as she discussed how she hit rock bottom.

“It’s OK, baby,” Scaife Rorie said. “We’ve got you.”

Women at the shelter share a bond and support each other like family.

When Laurie Hendricks came to the shelter, she didn’t expect to stay long. Eight months later, she’s still there.

“I’m not going anyplace else,” Hendricks said. “This is home.”

Hendricks, 52, is a recovering alcoholic. She said she decided to leave the home once before she was ready, but Scaife Rorie persuaded her to come back after she realized that was a mistake.

Etta Thompson, 45, has been at the shelter for two years. During that time, she said, she has learned to love herself and accept herself.

“It’s given me the strength to endure what I didn’t think I could endure,” Thompson said.

She was addicted to cocaine for six years. She said she lost everything, including her family.

As of Wednesday, Thompson had been clean for one year, four months and 21 days. Now, she and her four children are closer than ever before, she said.

One resident, who asked not to be identified, said she sees this as her last chance.

Her addiction stripped her of everything – a big bank account, a successful career, a house, family and a marriage.

The Lighthouse Home has given her a place in which to work on healing and overcoming her addiction, she said.

People can mail donations to: The Lighthouse Home, Inc. at P.O. Box 636, Princeville, N.C. 27886. Donations are tax deductible.