Gro Marshall recovery program to combat addiction stigmas

Marshall University has partnered with Gro Huntington, a nonprofit organization started in Huntington, West Virginia, to create Gro Marshall, a recovery program for students and community members on Marshall’s campus.

The partnership comes with the hope that the program, starting in fall 2019, can break the stigma of what addiction is and how those battling it heal, said Amy Parsons-White, sustainability manager for Marshall.

“We hope that this program can show that addiction is not just with substance abuse but addiction of any kind,” Parsons-White said. “We also want to break the stigma of the types of addictions that happen when going through college.”

Parsons-White, who was responsible for the partnership, said the program will teach those participating about their emotions and finances and allow them to gain volunteer hours.

“The program will teach emotional intelligence through yoga,” Parsons-White said. “We will also teach about finances and how people can balance them while going through recovery. Lastly, there will be three hours of volunteer work done at one of the urban gardens, city and campus composition.”

Jessica Neal, a senior nursing major, said that she is proud of Marshall for starting this program and believes it will be beneficial to students on campus who are going through recovery.

“It is important to teach them basic life skills that will help prevent them from trying to seek their hidden desires,” Neal said. “For example, gardening is extremely rewarding because the person can witness their months of toil by bearing fruit and vegetables. Also, they can learn how to balance their budget and have control over their debt, which will help them from falling into a depression hole.”

As the program gets started, Parsons-White said she has three hopes for the outcome.

“First, I hope it encourages and helps identify emotions that need to be dealt with,” Parsons-White said. “When people are going through a hard time, angry is usually the first emotion. Through the program’s emotional intelligence, they can learn to handle that.”

“Second, I want students to be able to balance their finances,” Parsons-White said. “It is harder to go through recovery when this is not the case. Lastly, the gardening gives the feeling of accomplishment.”

Being able to unite the Huntington community with Marshall in this way, Parsons-White said, is a way to bring the two communities together.

“This program is an excellent way to bridge the gap between the university and Huntington community,” Parsons-White said. “We are not only reaching the Huntington community but those that are hurting the most.”

Students are welcome to volunteer with the program and support their peers. Neal said she believes that by volunteering with the program, students can learn more about their own lives and the lives of those going through recovery.

“It is important because students on campus need to understand the addiction epidemic in the United States,” Neal said. “By teaching these people, they can see firsthand how the epidemic affects an individual person’s livelihood. Not everyone is lucky enough to go to college. It would serve as a personal life lesson to each student who takes the opportunity seriously. Also, they can, potentially, help the struggling person to get their life in order.”

Meredith O’Bara can be contacted at [email protected]