By Megan Broome
The Hope Coalition is a grassroots effort initiated by the Henderson County Partnership for Health in 2013 that has established a mission to prevent substance use among the local youth and provide recovery options for anyone impacted by alcohol and drug addiction. Dr. Michelle Geiser is the program director of the Hope Coalition and one of her primary roles is to develop and implement programs, and provide trainings/educational opportunities to the community, area professionals, and youth.
Substance misuse has impacted Dr. Geiser’s family and friends which has motivated her to devote her life to this cause. “I am passionate about advocating for youth, and health youth outcomes. I am dedicated to positively impacting youth substance use and mental health,” Dr. Geiser said.
The Hope Coalition partners with several other organizations and nonprofits, such as Henderson County Public Schools, Juvenile Justice, Sheriff’s Department, Henderson County Police Department, Department of Social Services, Advent Health, United Way, and Healthy Transitions. These diverse groups collaborate weekly to organize and participate in events designed for the public. “We host the ‘We Are Hope’ week each spring in the community. We also host the annual Jingle Jog 5k to raise awareness. We are hosting a community event in July with Nic Sheff for the entire community,” Dr. Geiser said. “We have an annual ‘Hope on the farm’ day at Jeter Mountain and engage in fundraising events to help support our programs. Monthly we provide Teen Court which relies on youth volunteers. Weekly we provide parent support groups, and youth support groups.”
The Hope Coalition’s partnership with United Way has provided the community with an opportunity to serve through the annual Day of Action event. “The Day of Action allows local volunteers, and businesses to engage with the community and begin connecting to local culture. This project allows youth to positively impact their community,” Dr Geiser said.
The Henderson County Youth Council, which Dr. Geiser is a leader of, meets monthly to discuss goals oriented toward promoting collaboration between local schools and providing service opportunities to the youth. The youth council participated in the 2023 Day of Action as well as in the years prior. “The youth council has participated in area beautification projects such as mulching and weeding. They have also supported the healthy trails initiatives by painting physical activity games on the Oklawaha, and Mills River Park. We have painted lockers, built desks, and set up local classrooms,” Dr. Geiser said.
The Buzz is a sober social bar and café located in downtown Hendersonville that offers non alcoholic drinks, mocktails, and a traditional café menu as well as entertainment, other events, and meeting spaces in a substance free environment. This sober bar and café was established by the Hope Coalition in the spring of 2023. “We are hoping that this will provide equitable access to individuals choosing to abstain from substances, or in active recovery to social events,” Dr. Geiser said. “This space is seeking to support the sober serious, sober curious, and sober sometimes communities. We will also be using this project as a workforce development program to help the individuals we support in learning soft skills to help them to attain sustainable employment.”
The Hope Coalition is easily accessible for everyone. Students can become involved with this program and the other organizations previously mentioned by reaching out on their website, social media, or to Dr. Geiser herself. “Hope Coalition supports youth. If someone needs support, we are available, and we are here. We strive to train group leaders, provide leadership opportunities, encourage mental health and substance misuse training, and support,” Dr. Geiser said.
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