Union College launches book, receives recognition from Congressman Hal Rogers

Congressman Hal Rogers presents Union College President Marcia Hawkins with the 'Difference Maker' Award on Tuesday.
Congressman Hal Rogers presents Union College President Marcia Hawkins with the ‘Difference Maker’ Award on Tuesday.

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – Union College officially launched the book “Facing Drug Addiction in Knox County: It’s Our Move,” on Tuesday and was recognized for its efforts by U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers.

At the reception for the book launch, Rogers, who is U.S. Representative for Kentucky’s 5th congressional district, presented Union College President Marcia Hawkins with a “Difference Maker” award for the college’s hard work and dedication in putting the book together and supporting Operation UNITE, a nonprofit organization combatting substance abuse in Kentucky.

“I try to recognize those who make a difference along the way,” said Rogers. “And one of the best that I’ve had a chance to recognize is standing with me now.”

Upon receiving the award, Hawkins commented, “Our partnership with The Facing Project was initiated and led by Monica Clouse and has evolved into a signature vehicle for Union’s advocacy on behalf of individuals and families affected by addiction. And it’s because of that we receive this. I appreciate this so much, and I thank our own congressmen for all the support he has shown us. It’s more than we can ever repay.”

The book launch was the culmination of a yearlong project, which was initiated to highlight the drug addiction issue in Knox County. It was completed in conjunction with The Facing Project, which is a nationally recognized platform that helps communities face critical issues by raising awareness and urging a call to action.

J.R. Jamison, one of the co-founders of The Facing Project, was in attendance for the event.

The high rate of drug abuse and addiction in southeastern Kentucky has been well documented and highly publicized. By collaborating on this book project, Union hopes to help break the dangerous cycle of addiction in Appalachia. Following a model established by The Facing Project, Union connected writers with individuals who have been affected by addiction in the Barbourville/Knox County area to produce a collection of personal narratives.

Union College contributors included: Marcia Hawkins, Union College President; Jodi Carroll, Director of Counseling; David Johns, Vice President, Academic Affairs and Dean of the College; Monica Clouse, Coordinator, President’s Office Operations and Events (project manager); Missy Reid (editor and photographer); Denise Hoover (photographer); Denise Wainscott; and Gabrielle Kelly (designer). Local writers were: Shane Confer, Victoria Englehart, Sarah Hendrix, Melinda Hornback, Mary Jenkins, Adam Prokopchak, Missy Reid and Sarah Wilder.

“We are deeply grateful to the people who let us tell their stories: Denise, Edward, Susan, Neil, Rebecca, Rex, Jennifer, William, Robin, Jason, and Debbie,” Hawkins remarked. “The names may have been changed, but the people are very real.”

Prior to the book launch and reception, a round table was held to discuss drug addiction in southeast Kentucky. Hawkins and Rogers were joined on the round table by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell; Kentucky State Senator Robert Stivers; Carol Jordan, Patient Care Director at Baptist Health in Corbin, Ky.; Michael Abbott, Assistant Director for Inpatient Behavioral Services at Baptist Health in Corbin; Frank Rapier of Appalachian HIDTA; Dr. Sarah Hendrix, Director of Social Work at Union College; Dr. Ilie Vasilescu, Professor of Psychology at Union College; Dan Smoot, President for Operation UNITE; and Claudia Greenwood of Operation UNITE. Lorene Putnam, the Dean of Nursing and Health Services at Union College, served as the moderator.

Books are available in the Union College campus store for a suggested $5 dollar donation. Union College also encourages members of the community to sponsor a local student to attend Camp UNITE, a summer program designed to empower youth to build a healthier future for Knox County. The camp is part of Operation UNITE.