Orangeburg is the newest site of The Courage Center.

The nonprofit recovery community organization, located at 950 Holly Street, offers free services and resources to those with a personal or family history of substance abuse.

The Courage Center Ribbon Cutting

The Courage Center Executive Director Randy Rush, left, speaks with Orangeburg City Councilwoman Annette Grevious, right, inside The Courage Center following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“A recovery community organization is a place that provides peer recovery services for those that are struggling with substance abuse,” TCC Community Psychologist Dr. Pamela Imm said.

Imm helped develop the Orangeburg location as part of the expansion team. Orangeburg is one of three TCC sites in South Carolina.

“We’ve always had a goal to be here in Orangeburg,” TCC Executive Director Randy Rush said Thursday, June 27 at the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We would not be here if it were not for Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter,” Rush said.

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Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, was instrumental in securing funding for the Orangeburg location.

According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, Orangeburg County had 37 drug overdose deaths in 2021, a 94.7% increase from the previous year.

Recovery support was a “gap” that needed to be filled in Orangeburg, Imm said.

TCC is designed to be a welcoming location. It has a living room space, multiple offices, a private room for individual therapy sessions, and a conference room.

The center named the James E. Wilson Conference Room in honor of a staff member who unexpectedly passed away in May.

Wilson will be remembered as a founding member of the Orangeburg site.

“His memory will stay on at The Courage Center forever,” Imm said.

Where other “mutual aid” groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous focus on abstinence, TCC’s strategy is to “endorse multiple pathways,” Imm said.

Some of the programs offered at the center are peer recovery coaching, support groups, family support groups, substance-free social events, individual counseling and life skills training.

The center’s life skills training prioritizes self-management, social skills and drug resistance.

Everyone who works at the center has lived experience in personal recovery or family recovery.

Peer support specialists use their lived experiences to assist others with their recovery journey. The specialists undergo 46 hours of training.

Group meetings for family members will begin July 22 at 7 p.m. The open group will meet weekly with no registration requirements.

TCC emphasizes meetings for families because substance abuse “affects the family members and the community,” Imm said.

Recovery groups for individuals will begin weekly meetings on July 23 at 7 p.m. Registration is not required.

The center works to “reduce all barriers” associated with getting help. The top three barriers are money, transportation and childcare, Imm said.

To reduce the barriers:

• Everything at TCC is offered at no cost.

The nonprofit receives funding from grants, donations and fundraisers.

Day in May is a lunch fundraising event hosted at the University of South Carolina. In October, TCC has an annual golf tournament fundraiser at the Country Club of Lexington.

• The center has Uber and Lyft cards for those in need. Some TCC locations have vans. Vans are not yet available at the Orangeburg location.

• Activities are available to keep children entertained while meetings are ongoing.

Orangeburg County Councilwoman Janie Cooper and Orangeburg City Councilwoman Annette D. Grevious commended TCC for providing resources and services to the community for free.

“When we can welcome an organization such as this, a resource, services being offered free of charge, it is indeed a beautiful day in Orangeburg,” Grevious said.

“Many substance abusers refuse treatment because the services provided are expensive, but that is not the case for The Courage Center. Services are free and available to all,” Cooper said.

To combat the increasing number of drug overdose deaths, TCC also offers free Narcan, fentanyl test strips and Deterra pouches.

Imm describes Narcan as the “opioid antidote.”

The fentanyl test strips will allow users to check their products for fentanyl.

“People are receiving drugs that they don’t know are cut with fentanyl,” Imm said. “The strip will allow them to check the product before using.”

The Deterra Packs operate as a drug deactivation system for expired or unneeded medication.

South Carolina had 2,168 drug overdose deaths in 2021, a report from DHEC said. The report states 1,733 deaths were due to opioids and 1,494 of the deaths involved fentanyl.

Imm said most overdoses are accidental.

“They’re not using drugs to die. They’re using drugs to feel different,” she said.

TCC wants to be utilized as a resource hub for the community.

“We’re a new resource in town. We want to partner. We want to collaborate,” Imm said.

The center plans to partner with the Medical University of South Carolina and local law enforcement agencies.

The center has also begun training community health workers at South Carolina State University.

“We’re very pleased with how the community has embraced us,” Imm said.

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