Advocating for change isn’t an easy task, but it’s one Supporting All Lives Together (SALT) and Lime Tree are committed to and to prove it, they held a community forum to discuss ways to make a difference in the community recently.

The SALT- Lime Tree Community Forum was held on June 19th at 6:00 pm, in the courthouse. The participants listened to several guest speakers and had an opportunity to ask questions and engage in dialog.

The goal of the forum was to inform, inspire and interest participants in stepping up to be one of the 9 members needed for the Board of Directors. Some of the participants attending the forum were facilitator of the forum  and director of the Lime Tree, Gary Carmack, Guest speaker, Jim Marshàll, State Representative, Steve Lynch, SALT Director, Jackie Flynt, law enforcement from Dixon and Waynesville, a representative from the Waynesville city council, and members of the community.

    “The Lime Tree is a non-profit recovery organization created in the loving memory of James Carmack, who lost his valiant battle with drug addiction in 2013. The Lime Tree has 3 main focuses: advocating better treatment for and of those battling addiction, policy reform focused on harm reduction, and implementing effective prevention education,”  Lime Tree’s facebook page says.

SALT  is a non-profit organization, exclusive to Pulaski County, working to end poverty and addiction in our local community.  The mission of SALT is to help others lead healthy, positive, productive lives, through immediate assistance, resource connection, and recovery, according to their entry on the Chamber of Good.

Gary Carmack, leader and founder of the Lime Tree, facilitated the forum.

Carmack said, “Whàt we are doing is putting together a community program for the addiction problem in our area. We are putting out Information and making the community aware of the drug problem and how terrible the drug problem is.”

Carmack invited Jim Marshall from the Fulton/Jefferson City area to speak.  State Representative, Steve Lynch, law enforcement, school board members, and members of the community were also invited to the forum.

Carmack said, “Marshall is a coach at the high school and college up there.  Jim’s son had addictions problems and started Cody's Gift after his son died. He goes around to all the schools to share his message.  Marshall runs a good program up there, a really good program in the schools for drug prevention. He is a coach and was a teacher and he is really good with the kids.”  Jim has also been instrumental in some of the bills that were recently passed.

Carmack said, “As we stand here talking somebody is buying or selling drugs.”  

Carmac is trying and hoping to get Marshall’s drug prevention program in local schools this year because he believes the drug problem is in local schools, too.  

“Middle school kids and younger are at risk for future addiction.  They take prescription pills they find at home or a friend gives them without knowing or being aware of the long term risks and effects.  The drug problem is huge,” Carmack said.

The Daily Guide asked Carmack about the homeless issue and he explained, ”After jail or rehab a lot those recovering from addiction are homeless. Their family and friends may not want them staying at home.  They have no place to stay and no money and they make poor choices.  Some go back to their dealer's house and some remain on the streets and do whatever they need to do to survive, without regard to their own safety.”  

Carmack continued, “Jackie Flynt (SALT)  has tried to get those recovering from addiction into housing.  Flynt has spent hours and hours of research on this situation and has a wealth of knowledge.   She has proposed tiny homes, RV homes,and tent shelters.  Flynt has fought and fought for housing for those recovering from addiction but has exhausted all her resources. There just isn’t any funding.”

Carmac said he has been asked why they can’t just just rent a building or use land a church is willing to donate to build a shelter.

Carmac explained, “A shelter requires 24/ 7 staffing, food, security and a host of other things.  It's just not as easy as it sounds.”

Jim Marshal arrived and explained what his goal was for the evening.  He was invited by Carmac.  The common bond between the two men is their son's deaths.  Both of their sons lost the battle in their fight against drug addiction.

Marshall said, “I'm here to raise some points, share what I've learned and just get people to open their minds to the solutions.  They (people) are not paying enough attention. They are not looking at the (drug) problem in regards to how big it is. Kids are making choices at ages 11 and 12.  They don't know what they're taking or how it works, but they see their parents taking it and they imitate their parents. The goal is to end the cycle and not to repeat the cycle of their parents.”  

Steve Lynch arrived and explained his interest in the forum to the Daily Guide, “I’ve been involved in this issue since being elected. I have actually passed four different bills including one that deals with using narcan to save peoples lives who have overdosed on heroin and opioids. This issue is close and dear to my heart.  I spent a lot of time on this issue at the Capitol.  Marshall has been my ally in helping me get several bills passed this year.  I'm here to support Jim and raise awareness.”  

Community members were there for several reasons including supporting programs in the area, to help facilitate ease and access for recovering addicts to get to doctor's visits and appointments, to help find transportation, and housing, and to contribute ideas.

At the end of the forum there seemed to be a lot of energy in the assembled crowd and enthusiasm for implementing the ideas that Marshall, State Representative Lynch, and Carmack discussed.