In Spring 2021, GoForth Recovery in Spartanburg found out about the Let’sGo! South Carolina 3.0 mini-grant opportunity offered by Wholespire, formerly Eat Smart Move More South Carolina. They needed an outdoor fitness area to provide residents, family members, and those in the Spartanburg community with a dedicated multi-use area to enhance the recovery journey and stimulate active living.
Changing unhealthy habits isn’t easy for anyone, especially those who suffer from addiction. And oftentimes, individuals who enter a recovery program like GoForth Recovery cannot afford a gym membership or even leave the premises for physical activity. Having a resource like an onsite basketball court allows residents a way to handle their stress and anxiety, while also providing a place for social interaction with their family, friends, and even the community. So, they applied for a mini-grant and received it!
Balancing Life and Making it Healthy
A basketball court may seem like a small thing, but for the residents at GoForth Recovery, it’s huge. It means a way to be physically active, a place to relieve stress and anxiety, and an activity to do during visits with family and friends.
For the average person, balancing everything life throws at you can be overwhelming, and we often turn to stress eating or some other form of unhealthy coping. For people struggling with addictions, everyday life is even more difficult to handle because they have to relearn how to balance life. GoForth Recovery teaches its residents how to lead a well-balanced and healthy life because when a person in recovery doesn’t adopt healthy habits, they are more likely to relapse. To help prevent relapse, GoForth Recovery provides classes on everything from money management and how to shop with a list to healthy eating and active living.
“Most guys who come in…no one has ever shown them how to have a good, balanced, healthy life. What does healthy look like,” explained Brian Naylor, executive director at GoForth Recovery. “We talk about seven hours of sleep, eating six times a day, what does healthy mean. If I’m getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising, then I’m more likely to stay in recovery. Nutrition and physical activity is key.”
Naylor explained that their house is a healthy house. He’s witnessed guys turn their lives around and go full force into taking care of their bodies. “It’s amazing to see the success of these guys. When I say guys are drinking shakes at night, I’m watching them use kale, strawberries, bananas, and protein powder; and six months ago, they were shooting meth. That’s healthy. That’s recovery.”
The Power of Community
Initially, the plan called for clearing enough land for the basketball court, but the vision soon grew to clear an entire lot to make room for future additions, like a pavilion and a playground for residents’ children and visitors.
With any healthy eating and active living project, leveraging funds play an important role in the magnitude and success of the end product. GoForth Recovery had an ambitious job to complete with only $3,500 from Wholespire, which, according to Naylor, only covered about half of the actual costs of the basketball court.
“We were able to get it done for next to nothing, except for gas. We had people donate equipment. We had guys who could operate it. We’re hauling off stuff to the dump. We had the City that donated their time, and they came and filled five or six truckloads of trees and debris.”
Word got out to various community members, businesses, partners, and associates about the basketball court project and the need for help with one slightly large unbudgeted item — dirt, 20 tons of dirt.
“After we graded the land, it required dirt because the land is low. The court system in Spartanburg was demolishing their old courthouse to build a garage. Word got out that we needed dirt. We also had a resident who was working for a local home builder. So for one week, there were close to 30 truckloads…and I’m talking about thousands and thousands of dollars of donations that were coming in. So just the dump trucks and the liability and the dirt, we were able to raise the land .”
Because of GoForth Recovery’s connections and the connections of their residents, they were able to leverage more than $10,000 in in-kind donations and complete their project. As Coretta Scott King once said, “ The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
Sharing is Caring
Since the completion of the basketball court, Naylor has witnessed increased activity among its residents. Duke Energy installed a light, so the guys take advantage of nighttime hoops.
“We have other people from the recovery community show up to play basketball because there isn’t any other place to go, plus it’s a safe place,” said Naylor. “We have meetings on-site that are open to the public, so after a meeting, people will go outside to congregate and shoot baskets.”
GoForth Recover also shares their new court with a local boys’ home, located one street behind the residence. “They’re over there playing every day on our court. It’s been a good bridge between us and them because we’ve been able to invite them to things like devotion, breakfasts, and some of our group outings — all because of this basketball court.”
In the end, GoForth Recovery got their community basketball court and already prepared space for future additions. But, it didn’t happen without challenges. From tree stump removal, scheduling with partners, debris removal, grading, and weather, their residents rallied behind them and used their connections, skills, and experiences to see the project through to the end.
“The challenges we encountered resulted in an incredible groundswell of resident unity, partner engagement, community involvement, and generous companies that helped us build a community basketball court, which far exceeded our vision in quality when we applied for our initial grant funding from Wholespire,” said Naylor.
GoForth Recovery, a non-profit organization established in 2018, is a men’s addiction recovery program and residential transitional living home for alcoholics and drug addicts. Their six-month residential program provides housing and a structured environment that allows alcoholics and addicts to recover from a hopeless and helpless state of mind and body. Their primary goal is to enable the resident to take responsibility for their recovery and build the foundation for them to be a productive member of their community.