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Faith-based addiction recovery center for women breaks ground

The Place of Grace founder and director Jocelynn James Edmonds, of Phil Campbell, in partnership with her church, Community Church at Hackleburg, took another step in making her dream a reality Thursday.

Edmonds and supporters broke ground on a faith-based addiction recovery center for women. It’s a dream that’s been nine years in the making – one that’s inspired by Edmonds’ own experience with addiction and recovery.

Clean and sober now since Nov. 5, 2012, Edmonds has made it her life’s mission to help others break free of addiction and work on recovery. By her count, she has been able to assist 2,003 women, as well as 176 men.

The Place of Grace Center will provide a nine-month in-house program for women wanting help to recover from drugs and alcohol. “We want to show them there is another way of living, through Christ,” said Edmonds, “and teach them the life skills and Biblical principles they need to come out and be productive citizens.”

Edmon said her journey through addiction started as a teenager. A cheerleader and basketball player, her life probably seemed good to the casual onlooker; however, her father was an alcoholic and drug addict, in and out of prison her whole life. At 13, her uncle took her in to raise, but he was killed in an 18-wheeler accident when she was 15, and that’s when her substance abuse first began, with drinking and smoking marijuana.

Edmonds went on to experience other crises, including several miscarriages and cancerous cells.

“I tried to cover it all up with drugs and alcohol,” explained Edmonds. “There’s no easy way out when you start doing drugs, and addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone. By the time I was 28, I had taken my first pain pill, and by the time I was 30, I had become a 16-time felon.

“I lost all of my self-confidence and self-respect along the way. Drugs will take all of that away from you. It has taken a lot to turn my life around, and I couldn’t have done it on my own.”

Once she broke free of addiction, she realized she had a second chance and that God had put a calling on her life. Since then, she’s worked to help get others into recovery programs. “I’ve been operating out of a vehicle,” explained Edmonds. “Having a center will allow me to have more interactions with those I’m trying to help, and they won’t have to go so far away. I want to be able to walk the whole journey with them, and when our center is opened, I’ll be able to do that.”

Her husband, Greg Edmonds, also in recovery, is committed to helping her to help others. “There are many broken souls throughout north Alabama, and we’ve been through this,” he said. “Our lives were broken and changed through the love and hope of Jesus Christ’s grace. It’s our passion to see people recover from their addictions and become happy and productive.”

They’re not on the journey alone; they have many others helping them in their mission. Daniel Green, also a member of the church, works as a liaison between the church and The Place of Grace. “I have a similar background to Jocelynn and Greg,” explained Green. “I’m just blessed to be part of such a wonderful ministry. With what Jocelynn started and what God has provided, along with others along the way, it’s just been incredible to see everything that can be accomplished when we all work together, and it continues to inspire me.”

For Joshua Lynn, lead pastor of Community Church at Hackleburg, it’s a mission he’s proud to be involved in. “At our church, we work to impact our community, our region and the world,” he said. “We connected with Jocelynn through jail ministries we were each doing. We have known for some time there was a great need for a bigger program to help. Jocelynn has a real heart and passion for this work, and I’m proud and honored we can all work together to accomplish it.”

Lynn explained it’s a partnership that makes sense – one he feels will be effective in providing the help the Edmonds, the church and other supporters want to provide. “I believe together we’ll be able to make a unique impact in helping women restore their lives. Ultimately they, too, will impact their communities, regions and the world.”

It’s something Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams said will be a big benefit to the community. “I’m very excited for The Place of Grace center to be built and opened in this county,” Williams said. “The number of female arrests and incarcerations in our county jails has been on the rise for some time, and I estimate around 95 percent of them are some form of drug-related charge.”

Place of Grace President Undrea Sparks Gonzalez said she feels blessed to be by Edmonds’ side in this endeavor. “Whenever she comes to me with ‘crazy’ ideas, I ask if she’s sure. She tells me she has faith, and I say ‘Let’s do this,’” Gonzlez said. “God always provides. This has been a scary and fun ride, and I am so excited for the future of The Place of Grace and continuing to grow in what we can do to help restore the lives of women who suffer with addiction.”

Franklin County district attorney Joey Rushing has also expressed his enthusiasm for the project. “I’m very excited to have been part of the groundbreaking for The Place of Grace,” Rushing said. “I’ve known Jocelynn for many years, and she truly has a heart for helping people overcome their addictions. She has personally assisted inmates from the Franklin County Jail many times at our request. She has helped get them to rehab programs, often driving them to and from and even assisting with their intake fees. Having a rehab facility for women in such close proximity to Franklin County is really going to make a positive impact for our area.”

The Place of Grace has raised more than $138,000 toward the project; however, an additional $85,000 is needed. For more information about The Place of Grace, call 256-668-5390, visit the Facebook page, or the website,