Local business gives recovering addicts a second chance

Danite Belay, Reporter

With the opioid epidemic hitting full force in Huntington, one Huntington business is doing what they can to give recovering addicts a second chance at life.

The Marshall Hall of Fame Café works alongside a local recovery center to provide employment opportunities for individuals involved in the recovery programs, who might otherwise be unable to find steady employment.

Tim Barnes, Marshall Hall of Fame Café general manager, said he contacts this local group whenever he is looking to hire people, in order to get them back on their feet.

“They’ve all made mistakes in their life and with their history, but I give them a chance,” Barnes said. “It’s been very successful. They’re very appreciative to be given a second chance and to have gained full employment.”

Because these individuals have certain rules in their recovery programs, Barnes said the experience working with recovering addicts has worked out great for the restaurant so far.

“Due to the restrictions (they have) when they’re in the program, they have to abide by a lot of rules,” Barnes said. “They have stipulations. They have to go by a program, so they need to show up for work, and they can be drug tested at any time. They also have classes they need to go to, so they’re very structured.”

Whitney Hershey, Marshall Hall of Fame Café employee and recovering addict, said before gaining employment at the restaurant, she felt discouraged because of her history and battle with drugs, that no employers would give her a job.

“It’s extremely difficult,” Hershey said. “You can’t find places to give you a second chance. Charges hinder you from getting a good job anywhere.”

While there are many aspects to resolving the opioid epidemic and drug addiction in the nation, Mickey Watson, employee and recovering addict, said he believes employers partnering with recovery centers is essential to tackling the opioid problem effectively.

“It’s great,” Watson said. “They just need more places like this to give people chances, in order to solve this problem.”

Gaining employment after facing the various tribulations in his life, Watson said it was not always easy, but working at the restaurant has taught him, along with the other recovering addicts he works with, responsibility they never had before.

“It showed me that there is something out there working, because you take us from our natural habitat, which is raising hell and just getting high, to functioning members of society,” Watson said.

Barnes said he receives phone calls from instructors of these recovery programs thanking him for helping these individuals out and giving them a second chance through employment.

“I would tell anybody out there who has had problems with drugs that is in a recovery program looking to get back on their feet to get a second chance, that there are people like myself and other businesses around here that would offer them a job to help them out,” Barnes said.

Danite Belay can be contacted at [email protected]