Addressing Addiction in Alabama

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On January 12, 2016 President Obama delivered his final State of the Union speech and specifically mentioned the rising problem of prescription drug and heroin abuse. Earlier this month, AL.com published a call the President made to Alabama concerning this epidemic and the toll it’s taking on our state.

President Obama said:

“As the use of prescription drugs has increased over the past 15 or 20 years, so has their misuse – as well as the wreckage caused by other opioids like heroin.  In fact, four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription drugs, and then switched to heroin.  As a consequence, between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related deaths in America nearly quadrupled.  More Americans now die of drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes.  In Alabama, overdoses claimed 723 lives in 2014 alone.”

He went on to explain that none of us are immune from this becoming part of our lives. It does not matter what profession you are in, what area of town you reside, or how much money you have, drugs do not respect socio-economic bounds and can affect all people in all places.

This is not about a specific political party or an agenda; this is about real people that are struggling to hang on to their lives before losing it to drug addiction. Regardless of your opinion on the President and his politics, the fact that our state specifically received his attention regarding this issue speaks to the significance of the epidemic we are facing.

President Obama closed with this:

“This is a crisis that could touch any of us. These kids are our kids. These folks are our parents; our brothers and sisters; our neighbors and friends.  We should treat them that way. We should take on this issue for their sake.  And if we do that, we’ll not only help our loved ones, we’ll help strengthen our families, our community, and our entire country.”

This is an issue we can all agree on. The people around us that are succumbing to addiction are moms and dads, sons and daughters, and as Jesus taught us, they’re our neighbors. They aren’t to be thrown on a trash-heap of people that most of society sees as worthless or unsalvageable. However, we know that loving them well can be extremely difficult. If you ever have any questions about an issues you or your family is facing or about how we might be able to help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us: Contact Urban Purpose.


Read the article that was published on AL.com here: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/02/president_obama_its_time_to_st.html

 

 

 

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Taproot Landscaping

Over the last year we have been blessed to partner with Taproot Landscaping, a great company that has a unique vision to invest in people that are working to get their lives back on track.

We recently shared our vision for the new Urban Purpose Safe House. Taproot is one of the companies that we’ve partnered with in this endeavor and they give guys opportunities to be productive while they wait to get into a recovery program. We also partner with them in a “temporary work program” for men in crisis situations and they’ve hired several of our guys full-time.

Take a minute and hear Jacob Snuggs, owner/operator of Taproot, share his vision of the business. Jacob has a tremendous background in the landscaping world and has a heart for helping men rebuild their lives.
If you have any landscaping needs coming up this year, please take moment to check out their website or give Jacob a call at 205-541-0425. In hiring them, you will get incredible service and will be investing in Urban Purpose and a number of men looking to regain control of their lives.
Check a few pictures below of Taproot’s work.
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Manicured Landscaping

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Creating Outdoor Spaces

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Hardscape

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General Lawn Maintenance

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The Urban Purpose Super Bowl Party

This past Sunday Urban Purpose partnered with Shades Mountain Baptist Church and the Common Thread Community to host our first ever Super Bowl Party. We had around 60 people come together to hang out, eat together, and watch the game. This party was made up of people from all different walks of life and areas of town, all brought under the same roof through one common denominator: Super Bowl 50. A number of our friends from our Sunday meal joined us and members of Common Thread brought some of their homeless friends with them.

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Having our party at Shades’ Christian Life Center allowed us to have a lot of things going on during the game. We had everyone’s favorite football food, which was almost all donated by great companies such as Publix, Piggly Wiggly, and Buffalo Wild Wings. The CLC also opened up their game room with pool and ping-pong tables, Xboxes, and more. Another crowd favorite were the basketball courts, where many people spent halftime shooting around. There were locker rooms available with showers and full hygiene kits made up for anyone who was wanting to clean off during this time as well. Lastly, we had an area where people could fill a bag before they left with a few basic needs: jackets, socks, hygiene items, blankets, and more.

When planning this party months ago, we wanted to be able to provide a “normal” game-watching atmosphere for a group of people who do not get to experience this often. We also wanted to fill some sort of physical need that they may have. We believe that they had a great night hanging out, cheering for their team, and laughing at the commercials. Ultimately, we pray that they left last night feeling wanted, loved and appreciated.

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This could not have been done without Shades Mountain Baptist Church and the CLC staff. We are truly thankful for all you do for us!

 

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Around the Corner

Throughout the month of January, 2016, we were able to fulfill many needs for the men and women we work with. Here’s what you helped us provide:

497 plates of food
9 Counseling Appointments
37 nights of crisis housing
2 Dr. Appointments
4 Filled Prescriptions
70 hours of temporary work

Also, 72 volunteers joined us on Sundays and we had 2 people spend a total of 62 nights in recovery programs. All of these things were able to be done because of you that support our ministry on a regular basis. We could not do this without you!

January was an awesome month and we’re really excited about what’s going to happen this month. On top of normal work, we have two exciting events that are around the corner in February. 
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This Sunday, we are hosting a Super Bowl party at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, where we will bring some of our homeless friends from downtown to eat, watch the game, and laugh at the commercials.

At the end of the month, we’ll be participating in the Global Impact Celebration at Shades. This will be a chance for us to tell more people our story and to be encouraged and loved by this church family who greatly supports our ministry.

These events will serve as a way that we can build relationships with the people we work with and also our supporters and partners from a local church. All of this will be while we continue to daily walk with those struggling to get their lives back on track.

We are hopeful as we look forward to what the Lord has planned for this month and we’re excited to tell you about a great February!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Mark “The Trashman” Wood

Mark Wood has been one of our faithful volunteers and supporters for the past few years. He has supported the ministry in more ways than one: with his time, his finances, and his prayers. Mark has also gained quite the reputation as a volunteer. Every week he comes to our Sunday meal, grabs a trash bag and off he goes! Many volunteers and friends that come to eat the meal have labeled him the “Trashman”. This has been a way for him to easily walk up to the men and women we feed and start conversations as he serves them by picking up their trash.

Mark has also supported the ministry by racing in the Urban Purpose 5K and has come in 3rd place each time! He’s an impressive guy with an incredible heart for the Lord. We are so thankful that God led him to be a part in what we do. Take a second and get to know Mark “The Trashman” Wood.

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How did you first hear about Urban Purpose? I heard about Urban Purpose from Elizabeth Johnson (another one of our volunteers) who I work next to at STV.

How long have you been serving with Urban Purpose? I would say about 3 ½ years.

How did you get the title of “Trashman”? Well I started picking up the trash pretty soon after I began coming on Sundays. Elizabeth always gives me direction… But I am very glad I got that title. Most of the folks may not always remember your name, but if you have the bag, they just call out, “Hey trashman.” I respond well to that.

Why did you begin to pick up the trash? I really believe that my part in Urban Purpose is a God thing. I would have never thought I would enjoy this as much as I do. Picking up the trash has allowed me to initiate more and more relationships with people. There are so many folks out there who are hurting, addicted, and may not feel comfortable to talk to just everyone. Admittedly I have also been into drugs, drinking, and the world in general. After years of that, God is working on me. He has brought me to Urban Purpose to talk with folks about getting over their drug use or issues and to share how God can get you out and over ANYTHING… which I can relate to well. I really love so many of these people and look forward to seeing them. I do run downtown every week for the past few years and I get to have interaction with quite a few of our Sunday folks one on one while out running. It always brings a smile to my face to see some of ‘our folks’ while out there running in the streets.

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Mark Wood completing The Urban Purpose Challenge, 5K in 2015

What is your fastest 5K time? 18:48

What are your predictions for the 2016 Urban Purpose Challenge, 5K addition? Will you finally take the title? I have been able to run the 5K each year at Urban Purpose since it started. This past year the course change did not make it any easier. I do not believe I can take the title if those young folks keep showing up. I am getting older and slower. I do not believe I can hold up to those folks in their 20’s,30’s and 40’s once you are in your 50’s you have to realize you may have already reached the plateau for running PRs.

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Did You Know: Drug Poisoning in Alabama

A very common but devastating outcome of significant drug use is drug poisoning (the scientific name for a drug overdose). Sometimes a drug overdose can cause death but other times it causes a state of unconsciousness that the user may come out of.

This detailed map on drug poisoning mortality shows the rates in which people in the United States have experienced drug overdose deaths based on race, geographic location, and age through 2002-2014. [Full map found at http://blogs.cdc.gov/nchs-data-visualization/drug-poisoning-mortality/]

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Did you know that in 2002, the state of Alabama experienced one of the lowest amounts of calculated deaths, which was about 5 per 100,000 people? In 2014, less than 15 years later, that number rose to an average 15 deaths per 100,000 residents. Jefferson County was found to have one of the highest death rates in our state. We have been able to see this statistic first hand over the past few years.

What we have realized is that the city of Birmingham is seeing a drastic shift in drug usage and location. Typically, people would assume to find drugs in inner city Birmingham, but in recent years we have consistently worked with addicts from Over the Mountain areas such as Mountain Brook, Homewood, Hoover, Pelham and Vestavia. Now, the drug scene is more spread out than ever throughout our city and we cannot ignore this fact. We’ve seen that drug use is not always based off of where you grow up or how you grow up- it’s because all people are broken and in search of healing; some of our pursuits of healing just manifest themselves in more outwardly destructive ways.

Over the next few weeks we will further dig into the demographics behind drug use in our city and how it has affected the men and women we’re working with.

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Stories That Shape Us: Our People

A little over a year ago we did a series called “Stories That Have Shaped Us” and we recounted some of the stories from early in the ministry that shaped us and how we approach what we do. We’re going to put a little different spin on it and tell you all some stories about the people we work with. Sometimes it will be an encouraging story, sometimes it will be a rough set of circumstances, and sometimes it will be about a tough decision we’re facing in how to best help them. We want you to see beyond the circumstances that are present on the surface. We want you to see the personal side of things.

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Yesterday we got to spend a good chunk of the day with one of our guys that’s been in a recovery program for 5 weeks. He’s the young man we talked about in our previous blog about The Urban Purpose Safe House.

The program is about 45 minutes outside of Birmingham. We picked him up, took him to a doctor’s appointment, had lunch, filled a prescription, and then grabbed a cup of coffee before we headed back.

Another one of our guys that has been clean for over two years had a meeting at the coffee shop we were at with a financial planner we put him in contact with (how cool is it that he’s in a spot where meeting with a financial counselor is even a necessity?!?). He got to the meeting early and sat down and had coffee with us while he waited for his meeting.

It was so cool to listen to him share some advice and words of wisdom with the guy that is just beginning his journey towards recovery. And it was neat to see how encouraged the guy that’s early in the recovery process was. It was uplifting for him to just hear from someone that has been through what he’s dealing with and has accomplished so much.

When we got in the car to head back, it was awesome to hear how excited about he is right now and how he’s even more excited about his future. He’s not naïve though, he knows he has a long road ahead of him. But he knows that when he is done with the program he has safe people and a safe place to come back to. Please be praying for him and the remaining 11 weeks he has in the program.

Yesterday was a good day.

 

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