CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The leader of a Charleston substance abuse treatment and recovery organizations plans to retire at the end of this year.
Marie Beaver, founding executive director of Rae of Hope, will leave the position after 18 years.
Beaver started the fellowship home for women in 2003 following her own personal journey to recovery.
“Cocaine was my drug of choice,” Beaver told MetroNews. “When I finally surrendered and accepted the fact that I had a problem, my life changed.”
Beaver has also changed the lives of others including nearly 250 women from 44 counties.
In addition, 380 children have been reunited with their mothers and other family members who have felt the positive impacts of recovery.
“There’s a ripple effect for addiction. When people are using, they tear families apart and they tear communities a part,” she said. “There’s also a ripple effect when people get better.”
Over the years, Beaver said the drug problem has evolved.
“I’ve seen a lot of things. When I first started here, crack was a huge issue. Then we seemed to go to meth for a while. For the last several years, it’s been opioids and heroin addiction, but alcohol addiction has always been apart of it,” she said.
A lot of the women come from rural counties, Beaver said. One of her biggest successes is opening a sober living facility.
“They didn’t have access to counseling, transportation, employment opportunities, self help meetings. They wanted to stay in Charleston to start fresh. In 2008, we wrote some grants and opened the very first sober living apartment building in West Virginia,” she said.
Beaver said when she retires officially on Dec. 31, she will head back to South Carolina where she is originally from. She will continue to stay on as a remote employee to help Rae of Hope with the financial aspects including the fundraising, grants and budgeting.
Dana Petroff will become the new executive director on Jan. 1, 2022.
Petroff has more than 25 years of experience working in treatment and recovery, having most recently served as director of addiction services for Prestera Addiction Recovery Care (PARC East). She was previously a consultant for the state Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program, which allows law enforcement officers to give low-level offenders the opportunity for rehabilitation in place of incarceration. She is a graduate of Marshall University.
“I am thrilled to be joining Rea of Hope as its new executive director and am hopeful about the opportunities we have to help even more West Virginia women reach long-term recovery from substance use disorders,” Petroff said in a news release. “Rea of Hope and the women it serves have flourished under Marie’s leadership, and I am thankful for her many and continued contributions to the recovery community.”
Rea of Hope currently serves 47 women and their young children at its seven locations in Charleston.