GENESEE COUNTY — As communities across the nation grapple with an influx of opioids and drug-related crimes, a local group is stepping up its efforts to reach individuals who are struggling with addiction.
RU Recovery, a non-profit faith-based program located in Flushing, provides addiction recovery resources to people who have become dependent on drugs and/or alcohol. The group meets every Friday night at Trinity Baptist Church on Elms Road and is open to anyone who is seeking addiction counseling.
As a member of RU Recovery Ministries—one of the world’s fastest growing faith-based addiction recovery programs— the RU Recovery chapter in Flushing has witnessed an increasing impact on the community. Currently, the group serves around 90 to 100 residents and has been adding new members each session.
Paul O’Keeffe, a Burton resident who volunteers with RU Recovery, said that the program is designed to break people free from a cycle of addiction, while also addressing their spiritual needs.
“We don’t teach or preach the idea of ‘once an addict, always an addict,’” he said. “We tell people that there’s more to life than addiction and that they can get absolute victory.”
O’Keeffe, originally from Dublin, Ireland, got connected with RU Recovery as a result of his own battle with drugs.
As a teen, O’Keeffe became hooked on heroin, pills and methadone. As he entered young adulthood, his craving for drugs worsened—to the point where he was living in the streets and breaking into homes to fund his addictions.
But O’Keeffe’s life changed dramatically when an ex-heroin addict acquaintance offered to take him into his home and helped to guide him on a path toward sobriety. O’Keeffe’s addiction recovery journey then led him to an RU Recovery chapter in Ireland, where he became heavily involved with volunteering and helping other recovering addicts.
Eventually, O’Keeffe traveled to the United States to receive special program training at the RU Recovery headquarters in Rockford, Ill. He became a U.S. citizen in 2013 and settled down in Burton with his wife and five kids.
O’Keeffe, now a realtor who works in Davison, said he is 100 percent free from his former drug addictions and is enjoying his life. Although his addiction recovery proved to be very difficult, O’Keefe said that his faith in God and the Biblicallybased principles he learned as a participant in the RU Recovery program changed his destiny.
When a person joins the RU Recovery program, he/she is given RU Recovery reading materials to follow and certain challenges to meet—such as memorizing scriptures and performing acts of community service. O’Keeffe said that the curriculum structure transforms addicts into productive members of society by getting the focus off of their addictions and toward giving back to the community.
Moreover, RU Recovery group leaders stay in constant contact with members throughout the week, helping them to establish a sense of accountability.
“When you’re in the group, it’s like family,” O’Keeffe said. “If you’re struggling, you can call someone in the group or the group leader. I think that’s why we’re not up and down with our numbers. Staying with the curriculum and having the constant interaction is key.”
RU Recovery in Flushing has sought to expand its outreach in Genesee County by partnering with the Salvation Army, My Brother’s Keeper of Genesee County and Carriage Town Ministries. As people continue to join the program, O’Keeffe said that more staff and volunteers are needed to help counsel new members.
Those interested in joining the RU Recovery program as a participant or as a volunteer can contact O’Keeffe at 810- 620-5755 or Pastor Ron Scott (Trinity Baptist Church) at 810-964-7229. More information on the program is available at rurecovery.com.