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Beckley to become nation’s first Inclusive Recovery City

The City of Beckley will soon become the first Inclusive Recovery City (IRC) in the United States.

On March 19, city, state, national and international leaders in recovery support will come together to sign a charter declaring Beckley as an IRC — the first in the nation, joining 26 other cities across Europe, the Balkans, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia as IRCs.

A recovery city is a community that promotes visible recovery, addresses stigmatizing and discriminatory attitudes and champions multiple pathways to addiction recovery. The underlying concept is that by embracing these principles, the entire city can experience growth and collective benefits through the generation of new networks, linkages and community resources.

The community is invited to attend the public remarks and the signing of the IRC charter, although all guests must register to gain entrance at the West Virginia University of Technology auditorium, 410 Neville St. in Beckley. Refreshments will be available at 9 a.m. and lunch will be catered by the Fruits of Labor Pizzeria & Café across the street. The program will get underway at 9:30 a.m. and the charter signing will take place around 10 a.m.

Those wishing to register to attend can do so at:

Jay Phillips, executive director of Seed Sower Inc., leads this initiative with a number of local community and government entities.

Phillips became a part of the Seed Sower journey in 2019 and began bringing in advisers and building partnerships to make the recovery support services vision a reality.

“The region has embraced our efforts and, thanks to six federal and state funding awards, we are offering safe, stable housing — which was our original number one priority — and expanded that far beyond to include transportation, workforce training and peer recovery support services focusing on southern West Virginia,” Phillips said.

In May 2023, The Well, which is a Seed Sower-affiliated organization, received funding support from the West Virginia Department Health and Human Resources as the only Recovery Community Organization (RCO) in southern West Virginia. The Well is one of six RCOs statewide.

Dr. David Best, who will be the keynote speaker at the event, conceived the model that evolved into the IRC program. He is a professor of addiction recovery at Leeds Trinity University and president of the Recovery Outcomes Institute based in Florida. His wife, Jessica, is director of operations and acting executive director of the Recovery Outcomes Institute.

The fundamental aims of the IRC model are:

  • Reductions in stigma surrounding addiction and recovery
  • Create pathways to community resources for people in recovery
  • Contribute to civic society and the active engagement of multiple vulnerable populations
  • Generate a model of “reciprocal altruism” where there is a recognition of the talents, gifts and skills of people in recovery and their contribution to community life.

Phillips said Beckley will also establish an Inclusive Recovery Cities board, involving grassroots recovery and community organizations, certain specialized addiction treatment services, and representatives from the city. City leaders will also engage in the Inclusive Recovery Cities movement, fostering the exchange of ideas and innovation at both national and international levels.