“One child in every high school I speak in has been raped or sexually assaulted. In one school, I spoke with an 11 year old girl who told me she has slept with 8 different people, several over the age of 18... Stuff like that’s common.”
Comments like these kept the Knox County UNITE meeting audience riveted as Forest Quillen from Chad’s Hope spoke to the group about his outreach into area schools. Introduced by Operation UNITE’s Carl Varney as “the best speaker to connect with young people I have ever met,” Quillen told the group of his path from child of drug addicted parents, to a troubled ADHD, Bi-polar, young drug user, into an adult inmate for 4 years. At twenty-two, he tied to kill himself with a prison floor tile. While still in jail, he says he found God. Upon release, he was active in his church, but still living on the streets. “I needed help that church could not provide.” He said, and so he went to Chad’s Hope.
“Praise be to God, I have now ben completely sober for 5 years. No smoking, no alcohol, no drugs, no pornography… now I have a wife and a little girl.” Quillen told the group. 3 years ago, he started going into schools to talk about his experience and to encourage young people and offer them help to find hope, and ”It just exploded.”
Today, in addition to working at Chad’s Hope, Quillen is the owner of a small business called, Be Some Body. (Email = firstname.lastname@example.org) providing counselor/speaker services, his company focuses on reaching the next generation. “That’s what I am passionate about.” Quillen said.
Despite his successes, he is still driven by the need he sees. “Out of 52,823 students I have spoken too, last week was the first time a single student knew what ‘Character’ means,” he told the UNITE attendees.
Prior to Quillen’s talk, the Knox UNITE coalition meeting recognized 4 members; Charles Lovell, Marsha Dixon, Lisa Phipps, and Claudia Greenwood, for attending the recent Opioid Summit in Atlanta. Varney noted that Congressman Hal Rogers started the first summit 8 years ago, using OPERATION UNITE, and had 700 attendees. This year’s event had over 3,500 attendees, and President Trump and the first lady both spoke.
The members also recognized Rebecca Raines and the Knox Co. Health Department for their efforts in getting Knox included in the biggest grant ever awarded by the federal government to UK. It is focused on solving the opioid crisis in Knox and 15 other Kentucky counties. Raines noted the program would bring a lot of money into the county to fund access, more treatment programs, and more resources for Knox County to battle the crisis. She said the funding would also help with programs targeting IV drug users, the incarcerated, training in prescribing practices for Health Care providers, and even to help pharmacist in identifying prescription drug abusers. The group ended their meeting by reviewing their upcoming programs for the summer, including “Hooked on fishing, not drugs,” which will be May 13,14 & 16 at the city ponds in Barbourville, and the soccer camp, may 28-31 at Union college. Both events are free.