By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
It’s Tuesday afternoon beside Rainelle’s only stoplight. Cars drive past the large, welcoming windows of Valley Works. Inside, a small but mighty staff assembles for their weekly meeting.
As they begin, a thin woman enters the door and waits expectantly. Her eyes dart from the door to the staff, back and forth. They know her well. “She’s addicted to drugs,” they quietly tell me. “Her house is nearby, and she lets several homeless people stay with her because they don’t have anywhere else. They are all actively using.”
Why is she here at Valley Works? In her own words, “Because you guys actually care about us, not just trying to get us to go away. You are trying to help us get better, and I appreciate that.”
‘God’s Way Home’ leads to Valley Works
Valley Works grew out of God’s Way Home, a faith-based residential treatment program directly across the street.
Andrew Bailes, Executive Director of Valley Works and Founder of God’s Way Home, remembers visiting a church in 2020. The church’s pastor, Roger Boggs, told him, “God’s gonna give you that empty building across the street from you.”
Andrew chuckled, because the building across the street wasn’t empty. But two weeks later, the owner put up a sign saying the business was closing. It moved out, and the building sat empty until Andrew signed the deed.
“Roger was right,” he says. “It’s been like that every step of the way. God always shows us the way.”
Valley Works exists to help people outside recovery. They provide job placement services, help people get identification or a driver’s license, provide clothing, hot meals, furniture, and more. It operates as a community center in the truest sense of the term. People from the community stop by throughout the day, explain their needs, and Valley Works does their best to meet those needs.
“People say they do drugs because there’s nothing else to do,” comments Dara Vance, Assistant Director at Valley Works. “So we give them things to do. Like last week, we had a game night!”
A small but mighty staff
Every single one of the staff members feels a sense of calling to the work they do.
“Our clients don’t have family,” Taylor Hiser, Resource Coordinator & Peer Recovery Support Specialist, says. “This is home for us, and we try to connect our clients into our family.”
Whether that is helping clients find a job or giving them a hot meal, they take pride in working with people to make change. “Even the tiny movements add up over time,” Dara assures her team.
James Boggs is a client at God’s Way Home and a staff member at Valley Works. He is deaf and came to them in the throws of substance use. Today, he is clean and holding down as Facility Coordinator at Valley Works, which he loves.
His mentor, Doug Tilley, is Project Coordinator at Valley Works. Doug recently took James to Beckley to get glasses, shoes, and clothes so he would be equipped for work.
“James has style,” Doug exclaims. James reads his lips and grins a smile as big as the sky.
The next challenge–public policy
Andrew and Dara see public policy work as their next frontier. “The barriers to helping people we face everyday are just enormous,” Andrew confides.
One of their clients recently was taken back to jail over failure to appear in court, even though he had no address for the court order to be delivered to. He will sit in jail for two months waiting on a new court appearance. Time he could’ve spent in recovery and working, they say.
They have invited local, county, and state officials to visit their facilities and discuss public policy changes which would enable them to do their work more efficiently and effectively.
On April 15, they are hosting a “Fill the Bag” clothing giveaway for the community. The food bank next door will be handing out food the same day.
On April 22, stop by for an outdoor soup kitchen with live music.
On May 16, plan to attend their “Break the Stigma” event at 5pm. They say the stigma of addiction is one of their biggest challenges. “We are all human beings,” Dara says. “We just want to learn to meet people where they are.”
Valley Works is open to the public Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday from 10am-5pm. On Thursday and Saturday, they are open by appointment.
“All anybody focuses on is the negative,” Andrew concludes. “There’s good things going on here.”