McShin Foundation wins national award

Left to right – John Shinholser, president and co-founder of the McShin Foundation; Stefanie Gamez (daughter of Joel Hernandez); Tony Spencer, the Caroline County Commonwealth’s Attorney; and Honesty Liller, McShin administrator, pose with the Joel Hernandez award.
Faces & Voices of Recovery and the Hazelden Foundation honored the Henrico-based McShin Foundation with the Joel Hernandez Award in Washington, D.C. last month.

Members of Faces & Voices of Recovery and the Hazelden Foundation Board of Directors present the award annually to one local, state, or regional recovery organization that recognizes the needs of the community and uses their resources to increase the prevalence and quality of long-term addiction recovery.

The McShin Foundation is a non-profit substance abuse recovery organization located in the basement of Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church in Lakeside. With only five staffers on duty, McShin hosts several peer recovery meetings and sessions a week from its church headquarters.

The foundation also provides housing and transportation options for recovering drug and alcohol abusers. McShin reaches out into the community by aiding local inmates on their journey to recovery and by influencing Virginia lawmakers to pass bills in support of alternative sentencing methods to incarceration.

On June 22, politicians, organization leaders and 20 McShin representatives, including president and co-founder John Shinholser, were among those in attendance during the ceremony held at the Washington Club in Dupont Circle.

The foundation was created by Shinholser and Carol McDaid in 2004. The couple, for whom the organization was named, previously earned the Vernon Johnson Award in 2004 and 2007. The Vernon Johnson Award honors those in long term substance addiction recovery and those who help future generations with recovery.

According to the foundation’s Executive Peer Coordinator Honesty Liller, McShin has been able to carry out its mission with limited resources and limited government funding. Both Liller and Shinholser pointed out that the foundation was still able to thrive and maintain a constant flow of people under these conditions, which made them such strong nominees for the award.

“We really didn’t get any help from anyone other than the people we serve. This is the first time in America that a non-funded agency got this award,” said Shinholser.

The McShin Foundation is what’s called a recovery community organization, or RCO, complete with halfway and transitional recovery houses and opiate detox. This RCO also connects itself with other programs that promote the long-term recovery of substance abusers, such as alcohol and drug rehab and substance abuse aftercare programs.

Shinholser added that one of the reasons that McShin stands out from other recovery centers is because members of its board of directors are from different pathways of recovery.

Many consider Joel Hernandez of Arizona a pivotal figure in the movement towards advocacy recovery. After quitting his job following a positive test for cocaine in the early 1990s, he then found out that he was permanently banned from employment at the company.

He took his case to the Supreme Court and won in a settlement. Hernandez continued to advocate recovery movement rights until his death five years ago.

Caroline County’s Commonwealth Attorney Tony Spencer spoke before the official presentation of the Joel Hernandez Award. Stefanie Gamez, daughter of the late Joel Hernandez, formally presented the McShin Foundation with the crystal trophy-piece.

“It was an honor to be recognized by Faces & Voices of Recovery and an honor for me to stand up as part of the McShin Foundation,” said McShin’s Volunteer Medical Director James Thompson, after attending the ceremony.
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