Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition Fund
The Rhodes family is working with the Jackson County Community Foundation to establish the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition – Chris Rhodes Memorial Fund in memory of Christopher James Rhodes who lost his life on December 17, 2008. The 19 year old tragically lost his life to a drug overdose. Although the family has experienced tremendous grief from Chris’s death, they are finding comfort in turning their personal tragedy into long term support for a community that is suffering with drug related problems.
Chris was a 2007 graduate of Ripley High School and had been attending WVU- Parkersburg Jackson County Center working toward a major in Game Design and Animation. “Chris was a blessing from God. He had a kind and generous heart and cared deeply for his friends and family. Chris dedicated the last two years of his life to caring for his grandfather who battled cancer. He touched many people in his short life – always helping out with neighbors who were ill and friends and family who needed him. We established this fund to serve as a legacy for Chris so we could extend his caring spirit to his community. It is my hope that through the work of the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition, other families will be spared the loss and grief that we have experienced. There is nothing that is more devastating than losing a child in this senseless way. It is my hope that other families who have suffered drug related losses will join us to support this fund and make a lasting difference for our youth. I have found comfort from my grief by dedicating my efforts to doing something positive for others. I believe that Chris would have been proud to know that we are turning his tragedy into a wonderful thing for our community. It is time our community wakes up and recognizes our problem. This is my step to do my part in Chris’s memory,” commented Chris’s mother Dodie Rhodes.
This community foundation fund will provide annual support for the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition. The Anti-Drug Coalition was founded in December 2007. The agency works to increase citizen participation and strengthen community anti-drug coalition efforts to reduce drug experimenting, drug use, and underage drinking among youth in communities throughout Jackson County, WV and the surrounding areas. Their mission is to over time to also reduce substance abuse among adults. The coalition offers anti-drug and alcohol-free events such as the Hatchet Game Tailgate Party, Project Celebration New Year’s Eve Lock-in, and 5th Quarters for area youth. The Coalition’s Jackson County Teen Court Program draws middle-high school students into a positive, volunteer program that gives them a sense of belonging and importance. The program is meant to be a deterrent to first time offenders. The peer-initiated consequence will hopefully keep offenders from committing worse offenses in the future. The coalition also plans to offer more educational opportunities to spread awareness through seminars, informational brochures, presentations, and advertisements. Some examples of the coalition’s recent community collaborations are the “Lock em Up” Campaign presented at the local senior centers and the television 3 news series on prescription drug abuse in Jackson County.
“On behalf of the anti-drug coalition, I would like to thank the Rhodes family for stepping forward and doing something positive in Chris’s memory. It’s hard enough to lose a family member in the prime of their life, but even more difficult to make public the nature of that death. This family is attempting to spare another family from suffering the same loss by bringing attention to this growing problem. Chris always helped with our community events and I very much appreciated the support and assistance he and his family have provided over the years. I have never been as passionate about the coalition as I am now that this drug epidemic has hit me personally through Chris’s passing. He was like one of my own and I was blessed to have him in my life as a family friend. My hopes are that other families who have experienced the same tragedy will also join our forces and get involved to build awareness and understanding. This fund will allow our coalition to extend our efforts throughout our county in hopes of educating parents, youth, and our leaders. Please consider becoming part of this fund in memory of your loved one and leave a positive legacy for that young person. As we continue to make our voices heard, we hope that more ‘victims’ will pull together to help us share the anti-drug education message,” commented Rhonda Davis, County Coordinator for the Anti-Drug Coalition.