Some of the employees hired by Reliance Works include Heather McKinney, Matewood Kortbein, Kendra Napier, Chris Weaver, Tina Turner, Brad Mullins, Shanna Christy (Beattyville office manager),Colin Gamble, Chelsea King (Irvine office manager), Donald Lewis, Lois Robinson, and Leslie Lucas. Not all are pictured here.
By: Lisa Bicknell
Reliance Works, LLC, now has an office open on River Drive in Irvine.
A non-profit business enterprise of Isaiah House Treatment Center, Reliance Works provides job skills training and “second chance” employment for those in recovery from substance abuse.
The idea behind the program is that gainful employment is a major step toward recovery, but sometimes it is hard for a recovering addict to get a job.
Ed Early is the Director of Workforce Development for Reliance Works.
He explained that the program was first developed as an enterprise of Isaiah House about 8 years ago to provide job training and employment for those in treatment programs.
At the time, Isaiah House was an all men’s facility, so men were trained in lawn care, property maintenance and construction. One of their first contracts was with a central Kentucky school system, which led to contracts with other schools.
The program was active in the central Kentucky area and in the first year put 10 people to work and made about $300,000 in revenue.
Last year, it generated $3,000,000 and has employed about 200 people over the last five years.
With the acquisition of a $1.6 million grant from Appalachian Regional Commission last year, the program was expanded into eastern Kentucky. There are now offices in Beattyville and, most recently, in Irvine.
The hope is that the program will become a self-sustaining business.
“We don’t want to be a one-hit wonder,” said Early.
The program mandates that up to 70 people will be hired and trained in addiction recovery programs in a five-county area.
To be hired, candidates must have been clean for at least 30 days, and they must have attended some kind of structured recovery program, whether it be a treatment center, Recovery meetings, etc.
Those hired are then trained to do property maintenance, housekeeping in both homes and businesses, and hot tub maintenance. The grant provides workers with transportation and equipment, and each work site is assigned a crew leader.
Besides providing employment opportunities to those in recovery while training them for careers, Reliance Works promotes economic growth and contributes to community development.
Reliance Works partners with Marcum and Wallace Memorial Hospital programs, with ASAP, with BGADD, EKCEP, Operation Unite and other local entities that help those in recovery.
Early said he “can’t say enough” about EDA Director Joe Crawford, Judge-executive Donnie Watson, and Watson’s administrative assistant Teresa McKinley, who have been helpful in bringing the program to Estill County.
There is a spacious training room at the Reliance Works office on River Drive, which opened in February.
Not only does it serve as a place for the recovering to get hired, but the office offers resources to people needing treatment or housing.
There is no Isaiah House facility in Estill County at this time, but two transitional living spaces are available, one for men and one for women, each of them housing up to three people.
DUI classes will be held at the Irvine office in the future.
Elizabeth Lewis is the Transitional Housing Manager and an advocate for those who have been Casey-lawed.
Her husband Donald is currently volunteering around the Reliance Works office.
“Regaining the public’s trust is an issue,” he admits.
Elizabeth Lewis acknowledges, “Trust is earned.”
But they are both hopeful that people will see how hard their employees work and how hard they are trying.
Early has seen the program grow into more than expected in central Kentucky, and he’s hopeful it will do the same here.
“People in recovery want to prove themselves,” he said. “They really want to do a good job.”
Early has had his own struggles with addiction. In 1999, he was in a bad car wreck, about the time Oxycontin exploded.
Early said that not everyone is supportive of the program, but he emphasizes that they are working on creative solutions to the drug epidemic.
“There is a stigma that has to be lifted,” said Early.
Anyone in need of any of the services offered by Reliance Works may call 606-919-1015 for a free estimate.
Some of the employees hired by Reliance Works include Heather McKinney, Matewood Kortbein, Kendra Napier, Chris Weaver, Tina Turner, Brad Mullins, Shanna Christy, the Beattyville office manager, Colin Gamble, Chelsea King, Irvine office manager, Donald Lewis, Lois Robinson, and Leslie Lucas. Not all are pictured here.