BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Freedom Source is a relatively new nonprofit organization in Birmingham that provides hope and help to individuals and families trying to find solutions for
drug and alcohol addiction.
The organization was born out of the frustrating search by one family to find drug and alcohol addiction service providers in the Birmingham metro area, according to its website. The Freedom Source became a reality in 2008 and to date has served more than 1,500 clients.
Sandor Cheka of Chelsea is the executive director. Cheka is a Samford University graduate and an ordained Baptist minister. In May 2010, he was invited to go to Washington, D.C., as part of a delegation from Birmingham to attend a conference put on by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. Birmingham was one of 12 cities with people invited to participate in the conference. The focus of the gathering was to learn how community partnerships could be developed to help people be successful in recovering from alcohol or drug abuse.
"As an organization, we are dedicated to taking small steps and doing things right, thereby providing efficient and, hopefully, successful help to those individuals struggling with addiction," Cheka said. "Many of these individuals are on the margin of society. One of the populations that we serve are service men and women coming home from active duty in the Middle East who find themselves battling a drug or alcohol addiction. The numbers of these individuals needing help are staggering."
In 2010, an umbrella organization called The Birmingham Recovery Network was formed. It's a group of partnering organizations that have come together to bring a more efficient and user-friendly system of help for people in need of addiction recovery. Cheka is the moderator of that organization.
The Birmingham Recovery Network's partnering agencies are The Freedom Source, AIDS Alabama, Fellowship House, The Foundry, Alabama Teen Challenge, the Alabama Department of Mental Health's Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, Aletheia House, Church of the Reconciler, Birmingham Health Care Services, Auburn University and the Healthy Marriage Initiative.
This year, Cheka wrote a program called Addiction Coalition that was implemented at Center Point High School and the Alabama School of Fine Arts. The program brings students at the schools together to focus on alcohol and drug abuse prevention. Currently, there are 115 students participating.
"We meet once a month with the kids who sign up, but we come have lunch with them each week to informally get to know them and gain their trust," Cheka said. "Our program has three main focuses; helping kids learn who they really are, teaching them that making small decisions really matter and helping them understand the importance of being involved in their communities and that participating in service projects is an important part of this process.
"The kids have the answers as to how to solve these problems," Cheka said. "They know the language. They know the drugs. They work with us in coming up with ideas about how to communicate the message that they want to get across, which is effective prevention."
For more information about The Freedom Source, go to www.thefreedomsource.com or call 874-8498.
"With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable." -- Thomas Fowell Buxton
The Birmingham News - Melissa Turnage
Posted: 03/21/2012 6:17 AM