Breaking chains of addiction while feeding with ‘sustainable agriculture’

by Sam Sentelle

otary President Cyndee Adkins chats with luncheon speaker Jason Quintrell.

Breaking chains of addiction while feeding with ‘sustainable agriculture’

Jason Quintrell with Union Mission

April 17, 2018

St. Albans native Jason Quintrell was named President of Union Mission last year. It was an opportunity to serve a growing need through a hands-on ministry, he told Putnam Rotarians today.

Rehabilitation services are a part of Union Mission, he said. That’s in addition to the operation of three emergency shelters and other family services needs.

“Friends with whom I went to school are now in prison because of heroin. Meth and opioids are destroying our people,” he said.

“There are 40,000 mouths to feed in the state of West Virginia,” he added. “And that’s on a very low month.

“When you get closer to the end of summer, the first of fall, into the holiday season, we’re up to 90,000 people that we’re providing food for. We’re into 22 different counties — that we ship food into.

“The quality of food isn’t there. The amount of food definitely isn’t there.for people in need who are really down on their luck right now.

“We have started a ‘sustainable agriculture’ program,” he said. “We are raising our own protein and our own vegetables.

“Tomorrow, we’ll move some chickens from a brooder to chicken tractors: Those are ten-by-twelve foot boxes framed with chicken wire, two feet high, with tin on top,” he explained.

“There is no bottom to these. They lie directly on the pasture grass and clover. Seventy-five chickens are placed in each chicken tractor. On the back of each tractor, we have wheels. On the front, we have a handle.

“What that means is — the chickens can eat all the clover and eat all the grass and eat all the bugs and everything that God intended for a chicken to eat. But they’re still protected from coyotes and fox — and things of that nature.

“So we have fellows that go out every morning. They grab the front of the chicken tractor. They lift it up, pull it one space and set it down. So that day [the chickens] have fresh grass, fresh clover, more bugs that they can feed on.

“That saves us a lot in the cost of feed.”

But Jason Quintrell has gone a step farther and connected the farm food program to Union Mission’s drug rehabilitation.

“We’re seeing a massive change in these men’s lives, just getting them involved in this,” said the Baptist minister turned corporate CEO.

“I’ll give you one particular situation: A man came to us about four weeks ago. He had been in and out of rehabilitation centers all over the place.

“[The man] was combative. He was arguing. He didn’t want to be there. And for two or three weeks he was going through the program like this.

“Now, as one of the men in our rehab, he has gotten involved in our sustainable agriculture program. And he has gone from this to, ‘What can I do now?’

“He loves going up and feeding the chickens. He loves going up and helping our guys map out where our pasture-raised hogs are going to be.

“He loves the fact that he is having an opportunity to do more.

“His mother called the other day, and said, ‘I don’t know what in the world you guys are doing there at that rehabilitation center, but I have never seen my son acting like this. I can call him my son again. We actually had a conversation.’

“So our sustainable agriculture program is to feed good well-raised protein — chickens, hogs, and cattle. And we take a portion of that to sell, in order to continue the other things that we’re doing.

“Now, moving on to our rehabilitation centers: I am for biblical teaching. I like teaching the Bible.

“But I think God expects us to be well-rounded in the way we live our lives, in understanding, and in teaching, and in our character.

“We were good at teaching Bible classes, but not so good at graduation time, saying, ‘Good luck to you. See you later. Hope everything works out.’ And that’s it.

“They have no job. They have no place to live. We’re putting them right back into the same situation they came out of, and we wonder why, within six months, [they’re back into] the only thing that’s comfortable to them — because they can’t get a job. They can’t pay off those fines. They can’t find a decent place to live because they don’t have the money.

“And we wonder why in the world there is so much relapse. We gave them what they needed right then and there. But we gave them no future.

“To face the world with all these borders and all these barriers was tragic to them.

“So we changed things a little bit: They come into our program. After ten weeks of Bible teaching, we now present them with our vocational advancement classes as well.

“What we teach now is healthy relationships. What we teach now is Microsoft products, general computer skills. What we teach them now is how to dress for a job interview, how to write out a resum√©. We have professionals from our community come in and teach professionalism.

“[We] teach how to deal in the workplace with the opposite sex. Most of these men and women coming into our rehabilitation centers, they have never been taught how to act around the opposite sex, things that we take for granted.

“So we spend the next twelve months teaching them good, solid Bible fundamental teaching, and also, putting on top of that, good, solid things that they should have learned [as children].

“And then we take those things that they have learned and place them in a two-month unpaid internship.

“We want them to see that they can take these things that we’ve taught them, and put them into practice. And they work!

“We’re still drug-testing them. And they’re going to be at work — because we’re providing the transportation.

“Then after they graduate, we have a ninety-day program where they move to [a different location]. We manage their money and still give them accountability.

“We make sure that those fines are being paid off. We make sure they are being smart with their money. We make sure the people they’re building relationships with, they’re healthy relationships.

“I am really, really excited at the people who are getting on board with our rehabilitation centers. It’s so needed!

“I believe, without a doubt, that the only way someone can break the chain of addiction is through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

“I also believe that you don’t just give a man a fish — but you teach him to fish. That old adage is so true. And we’re seeing that.”

jason Quintrell
Jason S. Quintrell. President & CEO at Union Mission
otary President Cyndee Adkins chats with luncheon speaker Jason Quintrell.
otary President Cyndee Adkins chats with luncheon speaker Jason Quintrell.

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Sam Sentelle

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