By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On June 5, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Athens-Limestone County is going to have a chance to face down as a community something that has become an epidemic: addictions of all kinds. The event is called Addiction Eviction, and people will come together in hope to get and give help that truly helps.
Addiction Eviction is the “baby” of Lori Masonia, who is very transparent about 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.
Addiction can easily lead to homelessness, and homelessness to hopelessness. The answer is not a handout, but a “hand given” to people who are willing to do the hard work of recovery that lasts. In addition, having the chance to celebrate that hard work as well as to pray for the families that have been affected by this plague is an important part of the gathering. Lori told me, “If you or someone you know needs prayer, we will have prayer walls. We will also have luminarias (the bags that hold candles) that you can decorate to honor those who are in the fight, or to remember those that were lost to it,” she said.
As sobering as it is to talk about this undeniably large problem, the rally is not going to be a “downer” at all. Lori wanted to emphasize how businesses, churches, and individuals are lending strong support in a number of ways. “Everything is free,” she said, and added that the big rule is that politics won’t be a part of it. There will be hot dogs, hamburgers, and drinks. Texas Roadhouse out of Florence is donating food, and Walgreens is giving cases of water. Refuge Church is giving 75 boxes of food. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and other toiletries are going to be available. Addiction can harm the children of addicts, and there will be new clothes for 60 kids along with school supplies.
Anyone who has ever been involved either with street ministry, homeless ministry, addiction ministry, or all three will be quick to tell you that a rally of this scope does not come together without an amazing amalgamation of genuine miracles and “the kindness of strangers.” One of Lori’s many stories of community support comes from the dental offices of Limestone Smiles. Besides donating toothbrushes and toothpaste, they have decided to do a complete “smile restoration,” which is worth several thousand dollars. People who have lost their teeth are often very uncomfortable when it comes to socializing, applying for a job, or getting a job. Dr. Treyla Dutton of Limestone Smiles gave Lori an assignment when she called to tell Lori of their decision: “I need a winner, an appointment, a mold, and we’ve got it from there.” Happy tears were shed, and no doubt will be once again when a new smile, and a restored life move toward wholeness.
Another feature of the Addiction Eviction Rally is the scholarship program. A couple of them are named after kids who died tragically, Cameron Richardson and Kolter Williams. The scholarships go to things like registration fees for Athens Parks and Recreation events and teams, and this year three students will have the fees for taking their ACT exams covered by the scholarship fund.
The Thrive Mobile will be there at 1 p.m. to conduct free HIV and Hepatitis C testing, along with rapid COVID testing. Representatives from several rehab centers will be on hand for people who are ready to make the change and do what’s necessary to get clean, sober, and build a new life. This non-denominational event will have music, testimonies, good food, good times, and a chance to help as well as to be helped. Lori puts it so well when she says, “Love is what love does!” Come on out on June 5 and find out just what that means for you, your family, and all of Athens-Limestone.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner