Hope in the fight against addiction

Published 6:22 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2022

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We’re inspired daily by the work of Suffolk’s many nonprofit organizations and honored by the opportunity to tell their stories on our pages.

Last week’s Arise Suffolk gala at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts added two important ones to our list. As reporter Rachel Austin writes on today’s front page, Hope Center Ministries and Cornerstone Ballet drew more than 150 generous people for an evening of dance, moving testimonies and fundraising for an important cause: the fight against drug addiction.

Actually, our regular readers were already familiar with the Hope Center, which was the subject of a property rezoning and conditional use permit on Holland Road in April. Mayor Mike Duman, in remarks at Thursday’s gala, noted that few zoning decisions are no-brainers for the elected officials who make them, but clearing the way for Hope Center Ministries to serve up to 33 women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction was an easy one.

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In a pair of unanimous votes, Duman and his colleagues rezoned 1.9 acres at 1654 Holland Road from residential low-medium zoning to office-institutional and approved a conditional use permit because the facility is not a by-right use in the office-institutional zoning district.

The center’s founder, Rachael Culbertson, captivated gala attendees with her own inspiring journey from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy graduate to inmate at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail to sober, successful mother, wife and now founder and director of a nonprofit organization that will work to lift others from the despair of addiction.

The Suffolk location will be the 35th for Hope Ministries and its fourth in Virginia. The ministry uses a Christian-based 12-step program as residents work through a Bible-based curriculum. It is funded up to 67% by its vocational training program, allowing residents to pay a smaller amount, with the rest of its yearly funding coming through fundraising, grants and donations from local churches and the community.

Thursday night’s proceeds were a huge boost for both the Hope Center and Cornerstone Ballet, founded by Amanda Short. She too inspired gala-goers by recounting her own brush with the dangers of drug addiction as a competitive dancer.

Mike Dail’s heartbreaking tribute to his deceased daughter, Tori Dale, a former standout volleyball player at NSA, reminded the audience that no family, regardless of income or social status, is immune from the tragedy of drug addiction. Tori, after becoming addicted to opioids via a legitimate prescription to treat pain for an injury, overdosed on heroin in 2016.

Thanks to the Hope Center and Cornerstone Ballet, future lives will be saved from the ravages of addiction. We hope the community will continue its generous support of both.