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uation marks 15 total lives that have been restored by Forge, an inpatient addiction recovery facility for men housed in Vidalia.
During the ceremony, several Forge Board of Directors members, alumni, and members of leadership spoke about the significance of both the ceremony and recovery itself.
“All of you family members and friends, thank you for being here. The recovery process is their responsibility, but you play a huge support role, and being here tonight shows that – don’t be afraid to tell them because they need to hear it,” Board Chairman Glenn Williamson told the crowd. “Our mission statement is that we exist to restore men to a life of freedom, hope, and purpose; you men have been restored. We didn’t make the mission statement that you have been renovated, changed, or transformed. One of the definitions of restore is bringing something back to a former position or existence. Each of you men are fearfully and wonderfully made, so we are not turning you into something that you weren’t already. You’ve been restored to who you already were, and now, you can see the fruits of that freedom, hope, and purpose.”
Board Member Joe George also spoke during the event, as he said, “I’ve thought about many times how hard it would be to leave my home and come to a strange place with a bunch of men that I had never met – its tough I’m sure. I admire all of you guys who are willing to do that to get clean and sober and try to turn your lives around. It takes courage and a high level of commitment and determination to complete a program like this, and I’m proud of each of you graduates for doing what it takes to walk across the stage tonight. But, just like so many other milestones in your life – like graduating high school, getting married, maybe having your first child – all of that is awesome and a great accomplishment, but its also like the first page in the beginning of a whole new chapter in your life. What kind of story are you going to write from hereon? What kind of legacy are you going to leave for your family, for your kids to talk about from now on?”
Alumnus Andrew Lillard, who recently was named the Forge Operations Manager, Michael Podlesny, Kelman Matthews, Michael Erwin, Jimbo Partin, Matthew Holley, and Tim Fowler also took to the stage to speak to the men individually, and to encourage them in navigating their lives after Forge.
Forge Assistant Director Todd Hamm spoke on the reality of addiction, comparing it to a fight, and congratulated each of the men on their accomplishment of finishing the program before turning the ceremony over to Forge Director Craig George to present the men with their plaques commemorating the occasion. Upon receiving the award, each man spoke about his time at Forge.
Brannon spoke on his favorite part of being at Forge, saying, ¨Being here while I was, I´ve gotten to witness a lot of life change. For me, it’s a reason to stay in recovery, and in the field I´m working in now – which thankfully, I´m in a recovery field – I get to see it even more. It´s God working within myself and all of you, and I´m proud to see it.¨ His mother, Evelyn Harrell, commented on the event. ¨When you went to jail, I hated that you went to jail. Then, you went to Craig and Forge, and you changed. You became you again. Don´t ever go back from that,¨she said.
Bowen reflected on his past 2 years at the facility. ¨If I told yáll what continued from page
the last two years has been like, you really wouldn´t believe me,¨ he remarked. ¨Everyone talks about how funny I am – I don´t really get that. I was told to roll with the punches, and every time I did that, people would just laugh at me. I appreciate everyone who came out to support this thing and helped me through my journey.¨ Bowen´s mother, Trudy Bowen, then took to the stage to speak on her son´s recovery. ¨We love you and are so proud of you,¨she said. ¨We appreciate Craig and all of this group, and to all the guys, congratulations! ¨
¨Thank you to the community of Vidalia – it´s amazing the support we get from them. The Board Members of Forge have been amazing, and I appreciate everything you do for us,¨ Boyd commented. ¨My father has been with me through more than I probably would ever tolerate from a son, and I love him more than life itself. I love my mother, and I´m grateful for her – they´ve both dealt with my addiction. To everyone at Forge, thank you for everything.¨ His parents, Lynn and Houtie Boyd, spoke to the audience about their son´s accomplishment. ¨One thing Whit has always told me is that I had his back, and I´m so proud of him. If it weren´t for Forge, I don´t know what we would have done,¨ his father remarked.
Beasley not only reflected on his time in the program, but also shared his admiration for what the facility does. ¨At first, I really didn´t think I would make it, but when I really got down and got into the program, I understood what we stood for, and I loved it. I loved seeing guys coming in and being transformed – it´s amazing,¨ he emphasized. ¨I want to say thanks to my family, the guys at the program, and everyone who helps to put on the best program in the country. It changed my life, and I owe my life to this program. The program taught me to stand behind any decision or call I made, and that has truly changed things. Thank you for fully supporting me, and I will continue to support y´all.¨ Beasley´s parents, David and Marsha Beasley, came to the stage to speak on their son´s journey at Forge. ¨We are proud of each and every one of these men,¨ his mother said. ¨Caleb has wrecked every nerve in me multiple times, but I am super proud to see him standing here like this – father, husband, son. He is a miracle – he was killed in August 2014. My daughter-in-law´s stepdad pulled a sheet over him beside the road. My church family went to praying, and God resurrected him. We are so grateful, and we are praying for all of you still at Forge.¨ ¨My clean date is July 1991,¨ his father shared. ¨If I can do it, you can do it. 13 months ago, I never thought I´d see my son like this – I haven´t seen him like this since he was 14 years old. I´ve toted him in the house and put him to bed, expecting to wake up one day and he be overdosed. But instead, I´m standing here on stage with him clean and sober. With God, all things are possible.¨ Heath Boney
¨I just want to thank every one of y´all – most importantly, my mom and dad and my family. I´m going to stay with my program, check in with my sponsors, and do what I have to do to stay sober,¨ Boney promised.
Boney´s parents, Ron Boney and Christy Collins, spoke on his recovery. ¨I can´t tell you how proud I am of Heath, and I thank Forge for all that they´ve done,¨ Collins emphasized.
¨Craig gave our son a new lease on life. To say that Heath has been through it, and his mother and I have been through it, is an understatement. This is proof that the Forge does work. We are so proud of yáll for what you do – Toombs County needed this so bad. We are blessed to have you here to keep it going and keep it growing,¨ his father commented.
Forge Director Craig George ended the program with his comments on choices. ¨Today, you get the power of choice. There is a lot of opinions about addiction as to if it may or may not have been your choice to engage with the substance, and at some point, you cross an imaginary line that very few come back from. So, whether the disease of addiction is something I contracted along the way or whether it was hereditary makes no difference. The fact of where I was at in my life and the lives of each and every man that I work with gets to a point that there is just as much need for the substance as there is a need to eat or drink – if any of us go without those things, its detrimental.¨ He continued, ¨I can´t tell you the why´s behind it, but I can tell you what has already been stated here tonight, and what this community continues to see – they see people rise up from the shadows of shame and continue to work together to define this thing that we call recovery. We´re doing that in a new way that I´ve never seen before, and I appreciate everyone being a part of this thing because it´s given hope to a lot of people who didn´t have that before.¨