And what a year it's been.
Since SOLACE was formed, Scioto County's problem with prescription drug abuse has gone from the shadows to one of the state's hottest topics.
Last year, former Gov. Ted Strickland declared a "war on pill mills." In his first State of the State address, current Gov. John Kasich said that "the devil had been running rampant in Scioto County" but the cavalry had finally arrived. State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson's first piece of legislation was aimed at crippling the problem. There have been dozens of pill mill protests and SOLACE has been asked to speak at events across the state.
Yet despite all of the attention their cause has received, SOLACE founder Jo Anna Krohn said the highlight of the last year was something that happened a little closer to home.
"Everything is so overwhelming, but the one thing that kind of stands out in my mind is when we received the American Red Cross Community Heroes Award," Krohn said. "That just showed me that people right here in this area, in our own community, recognize that drugs are a problem ... To me, that's as important as all the big things that are happening."
Krohn said she's surprised by how much SOLACE has accomplished, and notes that they're showing no signs of slowing.
SOLACE members were interviewed as part of A&E's special, "Intervention In-Depth: Hillbilly Heroine." They were also featured in an article in Men's Health Magazine and have appeared in television interviews numerous times.
Krohn said that during one television appearance, WSAZ's Randy Yohe said that her son, Wesley Workman, was fast becoming a national symbol in the fight against addiction. Workman lost his life as the result of prescription drug abuse.
"I thought, 'Wesley is a national symbol?'" Krohn recalled. "'How absolutely proud would he be that he's saving lives. He's making a difference from beyond.'"
Krohn has told her son's story to numerous groups, including those who are following a path similar to the one that led to his death.
"He went through drug courts. He was on probation. He didn't take it serious, he didn't do what he needed to do and the end result was his death," Krohn said. "I think it shakes them up a little bit. It shakes up their parents and hopefully there'll be a much higher success rate (because of it)."
Increasing success rates and saving lives has always been the top goal for SOLACE, and they're now trying to accomplish that in a variety of ways.
Krohn said the group is in the process of becoming a non-profit corporation, which will allow them to apply for grants and accept donations. They're also — with the help of Attorney General Mike DeWine — working to form SOLACE groups in other counties throughout the state.
One of SOLACE's greatest contributions to the fight against addiction, however, has been the way they've inspired people to speak out.
"A lot of people in the group said they were ashamed their child died because of drugs. They thought it was something shameful that they didn't want people to know," Krohn said. "But then, just to come to the group and listen to everybody, it was like a freedom for them."
Their willingness to stand up has others speaking up as well, but Krohn knows that the work is far from finished.
"I still talk to some people now and then when I meet them who say they weren't aware of the drug problem being as big as it is in our community," Krohn said. "I don't know how they escape from the knowledge of it, but everybody needs to be on board with us and with the Rx Action Team before it affects them."
ERIC KEPHAS can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 234 or email@example.com