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Origins: Foundations for Recovery

Greensburg Daily News - 15.01.2021

Jan. 13—GREENSBURG — The contentious year of 2020 has ended and opportunities for growth, healing and progress greet us as we ring in 2021.

The new year is a great time to make resolutions, look back on the past, and plan for better things.

To celebrate what promises to be a much better year, the Daily News is looking at how some local long-enduring charitable organizations have managed to stay alive driven by their missions, fueled by public concern and powered by undying volunteer support.

Foundations for Recovery, Decatur County's all-male recovery/transition shelter is an important part of the Decatur County recovery community, and its short history is largely the story of one man and his formative battle with addiction.

Matt Whipple admits that he went to college without much direction.

"I had two choices, like it is for many kids right out of high school. I could go to college or join the military," he said. "So I went to Eastern Kentucky University, right in the middle of the prescription pills and oxycontin boom that was happening there."

Having been in college only a year and passing only two classes, he dropped out.

"The drinking age was 21, but we all had fake IDs so that's all I did was party," he said.

Whipple was asked not to return to Eastern KU for another year.

"So I went back home. All I really got from college was an addiction problem," he said.

The trouble starts

"I could start to feel that it physically started to take over me early on at college, but after I blew through my entire life savings — all I had saved to help me go to college — that's when I had to start stealing and manipulating other people to get what I needed," he admits. "That's when I knew I really had a problem."

Whipple went to rehab a number of times, picking up injectable drugs as a more convenient way of getting his fix. He went to a couple of detox centers and rehab, "but it never really 'stuck," he said. Only after being admitted to an inpatient treatment was he given the option of either living on the streets or return home and let his parents manage his life.

Spending 10 months in an inpatient facility that turned into a transitional living situation, the structured treatment finally made a difference.

"It was a division of Fairbanks Treatment Center, and I did well there," he said.

He finished his treatment but stayed in Indianapolis, got married, and had a daughter. But after three years clean and the birth of his daughter, things changed.

"It was then that I stopped using all the tools I'd been given at the treatment center, what was helping me stay clean. My meeting schedule fell off and I just stopped being part of the recovery community that was helping me stay clean," he said.

He went back to detox and was in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous when his marriage failed.

"She'd had enough of my crap, and that's when I stopped giving it to her," he said.

The way back

In 2017 and still in Indianapolis, he became involved with Residents Encountering Christ, a newly emerging prison recovery ministry.

"When I sobered up, my lifelong friend and pastor David Burnett got me interested in REC, going into the jails and talking to the guys, getting them involved in Christ and letting them know that there was a better life," he said. "We'd see a lot of the guys getting ready to be released from prison, and that they were going straight back to the same environment they came out of."

REC does two sets of "walks" — spring and fall. The same inmates who were involved in the spring walks had been released from prison and had offended again.

A friend pointed out that a main reason for such recidivism in Southern Indiana was because there were not accessible recovery programs available.

"In the big cities there is recovery housing, but there was none in rural areas," he said. "'This would be a great way for you to give back,' my friend told me. And that's a major part of recovery, is finding a way to repay those who helped you in your recovery."

From their lifelong friendship, Burnett knew that Whipple's mother Ginny was a successful business woman with real estate experience. He suggested Whipple take advantage of it by starting a recovery home in Greensburg.

Whipple grew introspective for a moment, saying "a lot of my life, I've talked about doing a lot of things, and that's exactly what I've done is talk. I've never really done anything," he said.

A few days after a conversation between Matt, Ginny and Burnett, Ginny called Matt and said, "Well, I've done it. I've filed for our 501c(3). I've started our non-profit."

Matt said, "I was floored. I would've been content to just talk about it until it died out, that was how I did or didn't do things!"

Whipple and mother Ginny began looking for their first transitional facility.

"We actually looked at the house Speranza started in, but one thing led to another and things started falling into place," he said.

Determination

In January 2021, Foundations For Recovery is two ranch style homes on Moscow Road in Greensburg, very close to the "Recovery Church" — Lifeline Wesleyan. Many men have made good use of their time at Foundations. A few have fallen back, but such is the path of recovery.

"I suppose the only way to explain it is that God dropped it into my lap. There's no other way to say it other than things just worked out," Matt said. "Mom had the resources for us to start this. So it was partially that, but we were just blessed with the knowledge of what to do — Mom in business and me with addiction and recovery, but I think that's what it was all about. Just things falling into place and sheer determination."

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com

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