NEW LEXINGTON — On the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m., Never Alone Ohio meets at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at 201 W. Brown St. in New Lexington. The organization, which was founded quite recently in late 2021 by organizer Carrie Spears, fulfills one key intention: to create a supportive, substance-free community.
“It was part of the original plan when Never Alone Ohio was born, to try to sustain our community and provide a place of support and love,” Spears said, describing how regular meetings have grown since the first meeting in December, but remained true to their original objective. “This month we actually have (a guest speaker) coming out of Parkersburg who I networked with, so we always have someone to provide some type of education or inspiration to our community.”
According to Spears, these meetings are for literally anyone in the community; a person in active addiction, a person in recovery, a loved one of a person affected by addiction or even a member of the community curious to know what is happening or interested in supporting their community. Meetings can be followed on Zoom via links posted on their Facebook page, but Spears was able to reserve Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s meeting space for each meeting thanks to the support of Pastor Kristin Santiago.
Although they still operate strictly on donations, Never Alone Ohio’s connection to organizations such as the National Alliance for Mental Health means that at every meeting resources are available such as naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan. “Blessing bags,” usually packed with a toothbrush, toothpaste, water, small snacks, and other necessities, are also available for attendees to take away as needed. A table is also available for visitors to place photos of loved ones who are currently struggling or have lost to addiction.
Spears explained that Never Alone Ohio’s social media presence grew rapidly, as did in-person attendance at meetings. Attendees have grown from around 10 visitors at the first meeting to more than 50 people at recent meetings. According to Spears, networking across the state and opening doors to those in need simultaneously help spread the word about Never Alone Ohio and help those who really need it.
“I have had mums contact me (explaining) that their child has an active addiction and I always ask them if they have naloxone. If not, we get it,” said Spears about her work. “I just try to be that support person and really love our community and invest in its future.”
Spears hopes to host Never Alone Ohio’s second annual community walk fundraiser on Sunday, August 28, just weeks before the organization’s first anniversary. Before that, Spears plans to get the SOAR initiative, a program that sends text messages and emails detailing local overdoses and deadly drug batches, embedded in southeast Ohio.
Just a few weeks ago, Spears was contacted by a young woman in long-term recovery interested in completing the required community service hours by helping Never Alone Ohio. Spears was thrilled and quickly coordinated with the woman and her probation officer to create a list of things the group needed help with.
“And she was really helpful,” Spears said. “We were absolutely thrilled to work with and help someone in our community who is in long-term recovery – I can’t say enough about that. That’s the whole story.”
This month’s meeting will be Thursday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (201 W Brown St., New Lexington). More information about Never Alone Ohio and upcoming meetings can be found on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/neveraloneohio/ or by contacting 740-243-7737. Spears encourages anyone in need of detox resources, assistance or facilities to contact us.