WHEELING — Sharon Travis has received nearly $2.9 million in federal funds to help her provide a substance abuse treatment center for women in Ohio County.
U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, announced Thursday that a federal loan from the United States Department of Agriculture has been provided to the Serenity Hills Life Center, a state-of-the-art recovery center Travis is working to establish in the former Paul VI Center near Clearview. Travis has operated Heart 2 Heart, a nonprofit organization in Wheeling that helps medically challenged and disabled persons in non-residential programs.
“We closed today on that funding,” said Travis. “We’re very exciting. We still need additional funding to meet our goals, but we can move forward.”
The USDA is providing the loan through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program, which is available to Rural Development communities for specific needs and projects. The exact details of the loan for Heart 2 Heart were not immediately available.
Travis is in the process of remodeling and updating the former Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston property located at 667 Stone & Shannon Road. The main building has 36 bedrooms capable of housing two residents per room for a total of 72 beds. Renovations are underway on the fire suppression system, flooring and bathrooms. The center is tucked back off the main road via a private drive. It will have security monitoring system 24 hours a day.
She hopes to open the doors later this year, sometime between November and January.
Her vision is “to provide a state-of-the-art recovery center nestled in the beautiful hills of West Virginia. Creating a person-centered, safe and healthy environment that is tailored to the needs of each individual. Thus, fostering an awakening and healing of self and families whose lives are broken from addiction.”
Travis said she is open to donations that include naming rights to areas of the facility, including the chapel. Her plans are precise and extensive in her goal to help women repair their lives after getting clean of drugs and alcohol.
“We are not a detox center,” said Travis. “We are here to help women find a better way of life in their recovery.”
She said detox programs are already in place in the local region, but long-term placement afterward is lacking. She said the women who come to her program need a structured support system to help them in their recovery.
Manchin applauded Travis and her desire to help the Ohio Valley lose its label as the “heroin highway.”
“In order to start reversing the damage done by the opioid epidemic, we need substance abuse treatment centers to help people get their life back and start the road to recovery,” said Manchin. “This new facility will help people in the Northern Panhandle struggling with substance abuse treatment get help they need quicker. This is a good first step but we need more funding. It’s something I’m fighting for as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.”
Capito said she will, with high hopes, follow the progress of the program.
“The opioid epidemic has been devastating to so many families and communities across West Virginia,” Capito said. “While we are making progress through a multifaceted approach that focuses on enforcement, treatment, recovery, and prevention, much work remains to be done. Federal investments like this one by USDA will enable treatment professionals to help those suffering from addiction in northern West Virginia. I look forward to seeing their progress and will continue to fight for similar resources.”
To learn more about Serenity Hills Life Center or to contribute to its capital campaign, call 304-277-4659; or visit its website at serenityhillslifecenter.org.