The preliminary Oasis logo designed for the RCO. Oasis stands for “Overcoming Addiction with Sobriety, Information and Support.”

The preliminary Oasis logo designed for the RCO. Oasis stands for “Overcoming Addiction with Sobriety, Information and Support.”

TIFTON — After more than a year of planning and preparation, Oasis, a recovery community organization (RCO) serving the Tift area, is getting close to opening.

Oasis stands for “Overcoming Addiction with Sobriety, Information and Support.”

Judge Herbert Benson, who has been spearheading the push for a local RCO, said that they are expecting to open the doors around November. The expected hours will be Monday through Friday, and hopefully a few hours on Saturday.

“The city has agreed to lease us a building, which is the old Labor Department building,” Benson said. “They’ve been very gracious. We’re preparing to enter into the lease with them so we’ll have a physical location.”

Benson said that the Tift Regional Medical Center Foundation recently awarded a $20,000 grant for the project, and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities awarded the project a grant to get the doors open, pay for personnel and help fund some of the furnishings.

Benson said that they are grateful for the support and is hoping that others in the community will volunteer to help.

“If they’ve got something they want to do, we’ll find some way for them to help,” Benson said.

He said that they would like for people to volunteer not only funds, but time to the center once it opens.

“We are very excited about it,” Benson said. “We’re just trying to get the word out that it’s going to be there. We’ve had these symposiums and have been talking about it for a little over a year now so we’re very excited that we’re now past the talking stage and we’re into the action stage, the doing statg.”

Benson said that they’re going to start off slow and that the programs they will offer are still in the works.

The goal is for the RCO to be an information center for any person or family member that wants information about addiction or rehab facilities.

“Everybody is recognizing the problem we’re having with opioids,” Benson said. “Opioids is a obviously major issue, but we still have big issues with meth and heroin here in Tift County.”

He said that they arehoping to offer some vocational training, help with resumes and job interviews, and have both educational and recreational programs.

Benson’s vision for the center is for the RCO to be a safe place for those struggling with addiction.

“A lot of folks have come through some type of rehab program,” Benson said. “People that go to a long-term rehab program do well in a controlled environment. But once they return home, that’s when the temptation sets in, no matter what they’ve learned. I think they need somewhere they can go to transition.”

He believes that the center will not only be an asset for those involved in the drug court and DUI court, but will also be helpful for those struggling with addiction who haven’t ended up in the criminal justice system and therefore don’t have access to the drug and DUI court’s resources.

“We’re going to be directed and led by the needs of the community,” Benson said. “We’re more than ever asking for suggestions as to what they want us to offer.”

Benson stressed that the RCO was not itself a rehab clinic or a residential facility. They aren’t competing with rehab programs but seek to work with ones that are already established such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Michelle Calhoun, who has been working with Benson on the project and will be overseeing the drug court, said that Oasis will be a place for clients to be around like-minded people.

“They’re with other people who are in recovery,” she said. “They have the same goals. It helps to be around people with the same goals when you’re in recovery.”

Calhoun said that one of the requirements for an RCO is that 60 percent of the staff be in recovery.

“It’ll be good to show success happening with the RCO itself,” she said. “But if it’s a success with people that are in recovery, it shows that once you’re an addict you’re not just written off. You can still do things once you’re in recovery.”

“I see it as a win-win for everybody,” Benson said.

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