By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On June 4, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Athens-Limestone County is going to have a chance to come together once again at Swan Creek Park on Hwy 31 in Athens for the 4th Annual Addiction Eviction Rally. This is going to be an all-day event that will bring help, hope, and healing.
Addiction Eviction is the brainchild of Lori Masonia, who has expressed with passion on the Limestone County courthouse steps her lifelong battle and subsequent victory over addiction. Much of Lori’s fight came as a result of intensely destructive relationships. As is often the case, Lori’s battle started after having been abused by a trusted authority figure, and over time, the damage it caused nearly resulted in her attempting suicide. Lori is the founder of Ride With Me Addiction/Street Ministry and has, over the last several years, had the great pleasure of helping others from the standpoint of “no judgment” mixed with, “Are you ready to do what it takes to become free?” If the answer is “yes,” then this rally will be staffed with people who are ready, willing, able, and equipped to help.
The twinkle in Lori’s eye says it all as she talks about this year’s lineup. There are resources, there are scholarships, there are agencies of all kinds who will be on hand to do intake. There will be a prayer tent, lots of music, food, inspirational speakers, testimonies, hugs and help. “We want to see people move from pain to purpose,” she said. Supporting Lori once again in this endeavor is her church family from Oasis Worship Center led by her pastors, Jerome and Tiffany Malone.
Addiction Eviction started in 2018 at the 5th Avenue housing projects in Athens, and about 200 people attended. It has grown, even during COVID, to 300, and in 2021 approximately 700 people were present throughout the day. There is even a portable baptistery, and they are expecting breakthroughs that result in a public affirmation of faith in Christ through baptism. Jerome Malone was present for this interview, and described it as a “one-stop shop” for people who are needing help, and those who are ready, willing, and able to give it.
There are several churches that have come together for the rally — Oasis: Christ’s Church at Athens, Divine Inspiration, Freedom Church will be operating the prayer tent, Fresh Wind and Remnant will all be on hand. Jerome said, “This event is for everybody, even if you aren’t struggling.” I know from the times I have attended, I have always felt energized and edified. Lori added, “This always lights a fire in the body of believers, and it’s about relationships, being the hands and feet of Jesus, and showing His love.”
A number of agencies, both faith-based as well as community organizations that are either rehab centers or who provide support, are gathering for what will surely be a glorious day: Aletheia House of Birmingham; Recovery Outreach Support Systems (ROSS), which is a placement service; Pathways; Family Resource Center of Limestone County; Best Life Recovery Centers; High Calling Ministry; and more. Thrive Alabama will offer HIV/Hep C testing, and Not One More Alabama will make Narcan available and give instruction as to how to use it.
Texas Roadhouse is providing hot dogs, Marco’s and Little Caesar’s will donate pizza, and McDonald’s will be giving out burgers.
One feature about which Lori is especially thankful is the $500 scholarship fund donated by the City of Athens Parks and Recreation Department for kids to be able to participate in summer programs.
New to this year’s rally is a ceremony releasing 12 live white doves to memorialize those who have lost their battle with addiction. In addition, Lori told me, “A scholarship in memory of Cameron Richardson, Kolter Williams, and Jess Bates will result in a surprise announcement that will change many lives for those bound by addiction!”
Lori had a personal breakthrough this year, and that was to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist through the University of Alabama. It is a 12-month program that equips advocates, who have had experience with addiction, to help people who are facing rehab or other mandatory programs receive the crucial support that often gets them over the hump and on their way to true and lasting recovery. She is in awe of the changes in her own life, and deeply grateful that she gets to pay it forward.
Lori told me, “The blessing is in the preparation. Once the day gets here, I just watch miracles happen.”
Come out on June 4 and see what she is talking about, and join in on Sunday, June 5 in the same location for a community worship service. You’ll go home changed, and it just might be the day you start a whole new life.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner