ANDERSON — Just three years after her husband unexpectedly died, Virginia “Ginny” Barnes became overwhelmed with grief when her son Jim died.
The 19-year-old overdosed on antidepressants, and it caused her to turn to alcohol to ease her sorrows.
“When he died, I did not want to live,” she said. “So I drank, not to get high, but to get unconscious, (until) the time I realized maybe there was some reason why I was still living.”
That reason, she later found out, was to help alcohol and drug abusers find and maintain sobriety.
Barnes sought treatment in 1981, and by the mid-1990s, she, Lester Duncan and Harold Ben King used their Christian faith to help incarcerated addicts. Eventually, Sowers of Seeds (S.O.S.) became a faith-based, nonprofit recovery organization.
“He was my baby, but that’s the good that’s come from his death, including my alcoholism,” she said.
S.O.S. sees about 300 addiction clients a year, most of which are court-ordered or have recently been released from prison.
The majority of clients don’t have Medicare, Medicaid or any other type of health insurance, so S.O.S. charges only $10 a session. It aligns with the organization’s mission statement: “We provide counseling services to those who need it the most but can afford it the least.”
Dr. Don Osborne, executive director, said almost everyone who enters the program has lost a job, educational opportunities, relationships and freedom.
“When people come to us, we ask a simple question, and it’s only somewhat rhetorical… we ask them what has their life has been like the last few years,” Osborne said.
They already know that they’ve been on a downward spiral, he said. They respond that their life has been hell.
“Our next question to them then is if you don’t change anything, what’s your life going to be like a few years from now?” Osborne said. "When we ask that second question, there’s usually some stunned silence.”