Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition hosts Tennessee’s Day of Hope

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Tennessee Day of Hope took place on Tuesday at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

The event, which was hosted by the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition, aims to break stigmas around addiction and mental illness. It was inspired by Governor Lee speaking on multiple occasions of hope and strides in the behavioral health field.

“The Tennessee Day of Hope is a great opportunity for folks to come out and hear stories from community members about their own personal struggles and learn about what resources are available to those who need them,” said Dolly Reaves, project coordinator of the organization.

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Speakers at the event spoke on their past experiences and struggles to transform into leaders who now make a difference. One such speaker was Haley Johnson, a former addict who now works with ministries.

“I’ve been gifted to tell my story at various institutions, churches and jails,” said Johnson. “I was raised in a really good family, no trauma, nothing happened to me. But I have used every substance you could think of from meth to pain pills. For me, I was searching for my purpose. I didn’t really feel like I belonged.”

Johnson went on to speak of her addiction and her recovery journey, that has led her to sharing faith with others in the road to recovery, and also helping gain resources for her home in North Carolina.

“Addiction does not limit itself to just a certain type of person,” she said. “It can be nurses, doctors, teachers, good kids, bad kids. You never know when drinking or taking your first drug that it will take you down the road that it takes you. It’s almost like a gamble.”

In addition to Johnson, other speakers included Angela Hagaman, Director of Operations ETSU Addiction Science Center, Shannon Payne, with the PEAK Mentorship Program, Jackie Chambers and Red Legacy Recovery, Angie Martin, Jessie Righi and StrongWell.

After speaking concluded, Narcan training for children aged 6-17 took place.

“I think the timing of this event is perfect given the recent responses to the attention we’ve received around Narcan training,” said Reaves. ”Some people think of addiction as something criminal and do not see that there is a person deserving of help and dignity under that addiction. Narcan training is another great life saving tool that people can have. It’s just as valuable as knowing CPR or how to use an EpiPen. Our hope is that people don’t have to use it but should a situation arise, it could potentially save a life.”

For more information on resources provided by the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition, you can go to, or check out their Facebook page.

”We planned this event to teach folks about addiction and the services available,” said Reaves. “We also created a platform for people who have struggled with addiction so others can see that these are people deserving of our respect, dignity and help.”