4 weeks ago

City of Lights Dream Center restores women seeking freedom from substance abuse in Alabama

Life can sometimes squash one’s dreams.

Especially for people suffering from substance abuse, hope gets lost in the problems of daily life, said City of Lights Dream Center founder Jamie Massey. But scratch below the surface, and everyone has a story about how they got there and hopes – even though clouded – for a better life.

For the past year and a half, Massey has listened to the hopes and dreams of the facility’s 12 women clients, who are part of the center’s Celebrate Recovery program for people fighting addiction.

“I wish you could hear their stories,” said Massey, who operates City of Lights Dream Center with her husband, Victor, lead pastor at Sumiton Church of God. “A good 90 percent of people have something in their background that left them broken.”

Most clients come from a dysfunctional upbringing, have a history of sexual molestation, or domestic abuse and violence.

“People say others choose drug addiction,” said Massey, who mentors the women into new lives. “You don’t know their stories. There have been things that have gone on that have caused the behavior. We have clients from different states, and even have a woman from Russia. Some girls struggle with a lot of anger. I see people in emotional and physical pain.”

The rehabilitation center provides clients a free 12- to 18-month treatment program, including drug counseling and therapies provided by doctors, nurse practitioners and counselors who volunteer their time.

“We had a girl with a serious mental illness,” Massey said. “With help from our volunteer doctors, counselors and medication, the woman is now getting to a place where she can work through the issues of the past.”

Massey has found that emotional and mental health issues are a leading factor in drug and/or alcohol addiction. Left untreated or misdiagnosed, she said, many people self-treat through prescription medications, which can lead to hard drugs.

People need mental health help, and treatment will prevent addiction, she said. Untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues can be a big factor in addiction, Massey believes.

“I see God work here every day,” Massey said. “We’re here to tell people they don’t have to live that way anymore. Your brain thinks that emotional pain is the same as physical pain, and you’ve got to confront the pain. Some feel almost helpless. We encourage the women to stay in recovery.”

Clients find recovery and new life

Massey and her team have created a homey atmosphere where clients – many of whom were homeless – find respite and healing. Such was the case for Melissa Lamb, who left her home in North Carolina when she was 16 years old.

“There are ones who have been in domestic violence,” Lamb said. “I ran.”

A few years ago, Lamb attended the Massey’s church in Atlanta, before they were led to start a ministry in Alabama. When Lamb briefly relapsed into substance abuse, she lost custody of her daughter. She found it very difficult to regain her parental rights.

“I spiraled downhill,” Lamb said. “I needed a fresh start.”

Searching the internet for the Massey’s new church, Lamb saw that the couple had founded the City of Lights Dream Center. Lamb packed up her belongings and made her way to Alabama, sometimes living in a tent along the way.

“I called Jamie and told her, ‘I’m coming to check myself in,’” Lamb said. Massey picked up Lamb at the WalMart in Sumiton.

The past few months, Lamb has worked hard to re-stabilize her life. She wants to earn an associate degree from Bevill State and has plans to become a commercial truck driver.

“My daughter is that important to me,” said Lamb, who has a part-time cleaning job with a commercial company. “Once I could focus on what I needed to do, I can use healthy coping skills. I know now what to do to prevent a relapse.”

“The determination, heart and passion to succeed is influential with the women here,” Massey said. “We want to see moms reunified with their children. People have to get on their feet. They just need that chance.”

Lamb is grateful for the opportunity to start anew.

“Jamie is a miracle soldier, a warrior woman,” Lamb said.

Birthing the Dream Center

The Masseys moved from Atlanta three years ago to pastor Sumiton Church of God. Performing a demographic study of the area, they discovered needs within the community that couldn’t be handled on a Sunday morning. For several years, Jamie Massey had desired to provide a center where people could receive treatment for substance and alcohol abuse.

“Starting the City of Lights Dream Center has been an amazing journey,” said Massey, who operates the center through Jamie Massey Ministries. “This is definitely a God thing.”

Searching for a location, Victor Massey found the old T.S. Boyd school property, which had been closed a few years before and had been put up for bid by the city of Dora. The couple placed a modest bid on the property. The Masseys learned they were the only bidders.

Massey said the center has received much help from the Walker Area Community Foundation, the Walker County Coalition for the Homeless, and other churches and organizations seeking to improve conditions not only in Dora and Sumiton but all of Walker County.

For example, several members of the Miller Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) helped prepare the center for opening. Miller APSO members volunteered 400 hours. In 2019, Miller APSO gave a donation for school supplies to help with the Dream Center’s Back 2 School Bash for needy families.

Massey plans to use the entire 18 acres of the property. Coming phases, which will require property improvements, will include housing for single mothers and battered women and children. Behind the Dream Center, Massey added a new mobile home that will house a current client when her baby is born. She hopes to expand the center’s program to include men with substance-abuse issues in September 2020.

A Bevill State Community College instructor provides onsite job training to clients, helping with computer training and teaching business skills. Several clients are receiving tutoring to earn GEDs.

The Dream Center provides free day care after-school care to about 30 children of approved families, picking up the children by bus after school and delivering them home at 5:30 p.m. daily. The children are fed a nutritious meal made in the center’s community kitchen and engage in learning activities on computers donated to the center.

Many members of the Sumiton Church of God have volunteered their help.

“I thank God for a church family that is so supportive of this,” said Massey, who has shared the Dream Center’s mission with several churches and other groups. “I always say God must love this place. God has said, ‘I want you to love these people like I love them.’ We are helping change outcomes in Walker County, one person at a time.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 hours ago

Greg Shaw releases first ad in Alabama Supreme Court reelection bid — ‘One of us’

Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Greg Shaw on Monday released the first television ad in his reelection bid to Place 1 on the court.

The spot, entitled, “Trump Tough,” lasts 30 seconds and opens with footage of Shaw driving a truck around a farm.

“Activist judges legislate from the bench, but not conservative Justice Greg Shaw,” a narrator says.

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“Justice Shaw is one of Alabama’s most conservative judges — fighting activism and interpreting the law,” the narrator continues. “A Christian fighting for our values, Justice Shaw has been married for 39 years, is of the highest character and never wavers from biblical principles. Justice Shaw is respected, Trump tough and, like the president, Greg Shaw is one of us.”

Watch:

Shaw is facing a tough Republican primary challenge from State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), the chairman of the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee.

As of last Monday, February 10, Shaw had approximately $252,000 cash-on-hand while Ward had $113,000. Ward to that point had spent about $106,000 in the cycle while Shaw had spent $38,000. Updated financial disclosures are due on Tuesday, February 18, two weeks before the March 3 primary.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Hightower campaign unveils ads featuring the candidate’s faith in God, pro-life values

Bill Hightower’s campaign for Congress released two new ads on Monday that play up the candidate’s conservative values.

One is a 30-second television spot and the other is a one-minute radio spot.

Both ads begin by asserting Hightower’s strong commitment to the sanctity of life, which the candidate believes begins at birth.

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Hightower has long been one of Alabama’s most vocal pro-life politicians. His new television ad mentions pro-adoption legislation he sponsored while a member of the Alabama Senate.

Hightower has also frequently mentioned his pro-life stance on the trail during his congressional run and his unsuccessful pursuit of Alabama’s governorship in 2018.

The radio piece goes deeper into Hightower’s faith in God. The candidate says, “I committed my life to Jesus when I was 16 years old, and since then I’ve been a student of the word.”

Hightower’s main competitors for Alabama’s First Congressional District are Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl and State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile). The seat is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Both Carl and Pringle have released ads recently. All three men have voiced their support of President Donald Trump and the ongoing construction of a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico.

Hightower is alone in choosing to promote his support for term limits in his ads, though Pringle has signed a pledge signaling support for a term limits proposal.

The Alabama Republican primary is March 3.

Listen:

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 hours ago

Matt Fridy releases ad showcasing citizen testimonials — ‘On Tuesday I’m voting Fridy’

State Representative Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) campaign for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an ad Monday that shows Alabama citizens vouching for the candidates’ character and legal abilities.

In the closing moments, the ad also features a clever turn of phrase, “Vote Fridy on Tuesday,” that the campaign hopes will stick with viewers.

The 30-second spot will begin airing on radio and cable this week.

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The individuals featured in the ad, who go unidentified, vouch for Fridy’s “brilliant legal mind” and his “integrity.”

Additionally, one man in the ad lauds Fridy as a “staunch conservative.”

The new piece is more conventional than the campaign’s first advertisement, which went for a humorous tone.

Fridy is widely considered the favorite to win the Civil Appeals Court race. His only opponent in the primary, Phillip Bahakel, has not been able to accrue much money for his campaign and has not released a television ad.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

5 hours ago

Ainsworth to unveil legislation shortening appeals process for capital murder death row inmates

Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth on Tuesday will unveil legislation that will reportedly shorten the appeals process and expedite the death penalty for individuals convicted of capital murder and sentenced to be executed in the state.

Originally inspired by the record number of Yellowhammer State law enforcement officers across the state who have been killed in the line of duty over the past 13 months, the legislation will actually apply to all capital murder convictions resulting in the death penalty that occur in Alabama.

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RELATED: State Rep. John Rogers calls for automatic death penalty with no appeals for convicted cop killers

Ainsworth will be joined by bill sponsors at an 11:00 a.m. press conference in the State House to make the announcement. The Republican lieutenant governor announced two months ago that he was working on this legislation.

“‘Back the Blue’ must be more than just a slogan. Actions must follow words,” Ainsworth has said in a tweet. “Murdering an officer who maintains law and order should quickly cost your own life.”

Last year, the Alabama legislature passed a bill by State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville) making it a capital offense to kill any on-duty first responder, not just policemen and corrections officers.

Killing an on-duty police officer has long been a capital offense in Alabama.

In Alabama, capital murder convictions result in either life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

7 Things: Byrne throwing haymakers in Senate race, Tuberville says he isn’t for amnesty but there is a tape, Trump plays the race card and more …

7. Bloomberg reportedly has made inappropriate comments towards female employees

  • A report from the Washington Post has shown detailed accounts of inappropriate comments former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made towards women and ways that he’s discriminated against women.
  • One of the accounts in the report was of a female employee who announced that she was pregnant, and Bloomberg responded, “Kill it!” President Donald Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway said that the way Bloomberg has treated his female employees creates an “unsafe workplace.” She added, “[T]o feel that you’re being harassed because of your gender, that is problematic.”

6. UAB one of the best hospitals

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  • UAB Hospital has made the cut for one of America’s Best Hospitals based on overall clinical excellence. Only the top 5% of hospitals in the country qualify.
  • There’s a total of 32 conditions and procedures that hospitals are evaluated on to be determined one of the best, including stroke, heart failure and heart attack. If treated at a hospital ranked as one of America’s best, there’s a 26.6% higher survival rate.

5. Every Trump appointee just needs to resign or be investigated?

  • Amid the drama of the Department of Justice getting involved in the case of Roger Stone, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is calling for U.S. Attorney General William Barr to testify before the Senate while others are calling for resignation or impeachment (which will never happen).
  • Klobuchar wants to ensure that the decision of the Justice Department wasn’t influenced by President Donald Trump with him “constantly tweeting out different requests of the Justice Department.” Barr has already agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

4. Medical marijuana vote expected this week

  • On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a public hearing where the medical marijuana bill will likely be discussed, and a vote on the bill could happen on the same day.
  • State Senator Tim Melson’s (R-Florence) would require that people first get a prescription for medical marijuana from a state-approved doctor before going to a dispensary to purchase their products. Only those with specific conditions would be approved for a medical marijuana card.

3. Trump takes “The Beast” for a spin at Daytona

  • President Donald Trump visited the Daytona 500 on Sunday where he acted as the Grand Marshall for the race and took the presidential limo on a lap around the track while chants of “four more years” and “USA!” filled the track.
  • Obviously, the media and their Democrats were not happy with this and complained that the limo was a government resource being used for campaign purposes, which is the same complaint they make about Air Force One. Even though both parties have complained about this practice in the past, it is clearly permissible.

2. Tuberville isn’t for amnesty

  • In the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Alabama, U.S. Representative Bradly Byrne (R-Fairhope) has released an ad that takes aim at former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, replaying audio from a Shoals Republican Club meeting where Tuberville talks about illegal immigration, saying, “Put the wall up – then let them come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.”
  • The narrator in the ad responds with “Hey, Tommy, that’s amnesty,” but at a campaign stop in Hartselle, Tuberville said that when it comes to amnesty for illegal immigrants, “You have to go and start back the right way.” He added that people saying he’s for amnesty are part of “the swamp. … They can’t run on anything, they don’t do anything. They’ve never done anything.”

1. Byrne throwing punches shows the state of the race

  • Whether he is in second or third is up for debate, but U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) is the first candidate to go on the attack in his own name in the 2020 U.S. Senate race, putting out a television ad saying that both former Auburn Football coach Tommy Tuberville and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions “should’ve stayed fired.”
  • The ad compares Byrne to Tuberville and Sessions, saying that “Bradley is the proven fighter with a track record of defending President Trump and our values.” The Sessions campaign has responded to the ad saying that candidates attack when they’re “desperate and afraid.”