Conference Series on Substance Abuse and Healing to Resume in Wheeling

By Colleen Rowan
WEST VIRGINIA—The conference series on substance abuse and healing in West Virginia will resume March 9 at the St. Joseph Retreat Center in Wheeling.
“Faith, Hope, Love—Creating Connections for Healing” focuses on substance abuse, how it affects the brain, fostering healing in communities and reducing stigma.
The conference will feature keynote speaker Martha Polinsky, senior project coordinator of the Community Impact Coalition, which implements research-based prevention strategies in Ohio County. Prayer, sharing, stories, as well as breakout sessions will also be included. The conference will end with prayer.
The series is being presented by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Catholic Charities West Virginia along with the West Virginia Council of Churches. The series is the seventh annual Social Ministries Conference, which began last fall with two gatherings — the first at St. Leo Parish in Inwood and the second at Blessed Sacrament Parish in South Charleston.
“It’s been such an honor to be part of these conferences,” said Kate Kosydar, Parish Social Ministry coordinator for CCWVa, who is organizing the conference. “I have personally learned so much from our previous keynote speakers about opioids. It’s empowering to have that information. Other participants have expressed their gratitude for the ability to learn and also to talk with others who share their concerns. Almost everyone has a personal connection to someone experiencing addiction.
“It is so good to be able to gather as people of faith, and figure out what our role is in the whole complicated web,” she said. “ I think that’s the main value of the conference. And having the event in four different locations gives us the opportunity to provide more localized content and easier community connections.”
Polinsky has presented numerous substance abuse prevention trainings and workshops. She recently presented at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America or CADCA Leadership Forum in Washington. She has taught middle school and implemented prevention education to children and teens in Ohio County. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Ohio University and a Master of Arts in teaching from Muskingum College.
Polinsky worked as the assistant director of Dr. Lee Jones Miracles Happen which operated a 90-day residential substance use disorder treatment program, and two, eight-week Intensive-Out-Patient (IOP) programs. She said the scope of her work has allowed her valuable experience all areas of the substance abuse continuum (Prevention/Early Intervention/ Treatment/Recovery). She feels her greatest accomplishments include raising her daughter, now 18, and her long-term recovery of 27 years.
At both the last two locations, the conference will begin at 9 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m., and will be offered free of charge. Although the conference is free, those interested in attending are asked to RSVP so that provisions for materials and lunch may be made.
The last conference in the series will be held May 18 at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Morgantown.
Those interested in attending the conferneces may register online at connectionsforhealing.