Three in recovery to speak at YES Cinema

Three Bartholomew County men recovering from drug addiction will share their stories in a special presentation in downtown Columbus.

Students Fund of Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. students, will host “You Are Not Alone” from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St.

The free presentation is open to the public and will include Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School graduates Jacob Kessler, Michael Phelps and Chuck Fields as speakers, said Whitney Budd, Students Fund of Hope. All three speakers have spent time in jail or prison as a result of drug addiction, she said.

Kessler and Phelps participated in a drug and rehabilitation program through the Wheeler Mission in Bloomington. Wheeler Mission is a Christian social services organization based in Indianapolis that provides residential programs, addiction recovery and other assistance.

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Budd said the event is meant to provide information, resources and familiar faces to help addicts or families of addicts choose a path to recovery.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers is scheduled to attend, along with representatives from the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress and other recovery organizations.

“The whole goal is to have a bunch of resources available for recovering addicts and their family members and to know that these are people you can reach out to for help,” Budd said.

Budd said her brother, Kessler, was a heroin addict for eight years and served two sentences in prison and recently completed his rehabilitation and treatment at Camp Hunt through the Wheeler Mission.

Budd said she watched his downward spiral for 10 years due to drug use. “He hated himself as an addict,” Budd said. “He didn’t know where to go.”

Kessler decided to get drug treatment through the Wheeler Mission as part of a nine-month intensive inpatient program after getting out of prison. He is beginning Biblical counseling courses this month, Budd said.

“It was the best decision he ever made,” she said.

Fields, who lives in Hope, said he was first introduced to drugs at age 15 and eventually became a drug dealer.

He was arrested for drug-related crimes and spent four months in the Bartholomew County Jail when he was 18, he said.

Fields credited his faith and his wife in getting his life turned around and is now considering starting a ministry to help others facing addiction.

“A lot of people think when they fail, their life is over and that’s not the case,” Fields said. “A lot of people don’t want to reach out for help.”

Fields also encouraged people battling addiction not to give up and to find a close friend who will be there to support them.

“Never quit fighting and think that you’re down and out,” Fields said.

Phelps, a recovering heroin addict who overdosed twice and has also spent time in the Bartholomew County Jail, now visits churches to share his story, Budd said.

He was given three doses of Narcan, which reverses the effects of an overdose, after being found unresponsive at a home in the 1700 block of Cottage Avenue May 6, 2016.

Budd said she realizes it is difficult for individuals facing drug addiction to kick their habit.

“The whole idea is to give them resources — we know you’re tired and we’re here to help you,” Budd said.

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What: "You Are Not Alone" featuring the stories of three Bartholomew County men who are recovering from drug addiction

When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday

Where: YES Cinema, 325 Jackson St.

How much: Free and open to the public. Individuals may reserve a seat by registering in advance at