Life-changer: Capstone Recovery Center fundraiser held

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, May 7, 2024

SALISBURY — Sweet moments with smiles and laughter and emotional moments with tears and hugs marked the annual Capstone Recovery Center fundraiser.

A large crowd gathered on the terrace at the Salisbury Country Club for the May 4 event, using “You Are Precious in His Sight,” based on the verse from Proverbs 3:15, as its theme.

Miriam Ramirez, executive director of the treatment center, took this opportunity to thank “everybody who has been so generous with us because you guys are what makes this happen.”

Following an opening prayer and welcome, Bella-Rae Music and Erin Gilbert, provided special music for the crowd after which lunch was served.

A special time of testimonies took place with several Capstone graduates sharing.

Speaking from their hearts, as evidenced by moments of emotion and tears, they each shared about their life prior to getting help at Capstone and how God led them there and changed their lives through the program and provided updates on what is happening now.

Sharing how she came from a broken home and with extreme trauma, Dystanie Richard said after losing her mom, she went to the streets for comfort and was stuck in a life of drugs, gangs and more until she found herself at a rehab in Rowan County and found her life being restored, “through counseling, through the Bible and through the abundance of Christian women that God put in my life.”

Since leaving that lifestyle and getting help, she has been sober for 18 months, she said, she graduated from the program, earned her GED, completed her parole and got her license restored and is employed at Capstone.

“Everyday, I get to be a part of the ministry that helps women like me and it encourages me. It’s worth it,” Richard said, “and I just thank God for every single one of ya’ll I’ve crossed paths with over this course of my journey. It’s not been in vain and I’m extremely grateful and I would not be standing here if it wasn’t for each one of ya’ll.”

Another graduate, Jesilyn Strawn, told how she was walking a very dark path as she dealt with shame and guilt and her life spiraled out of control.

She said she remembered sitting in her car, feeling all alone and begging God for help. It was two days later that she found herself surrounded by the sheriff’s department, hand-cuffed and sighing with relief that this was exactly what she needed.

When released from jail, she went to Solus Christus, she said, which is a safe house that helps women find a long-term faith-based program and was accepted into Capstone.

“The counselors and volunteers were exactly what I needed,” Strawn said. “They helped me build my relationship with the Lord and work through my trauma.”

It’s where she learned multiple lessons including that every decision has a consequence, good or bad.

She also learned that “the Lord has blessed me with a story to tell so I may be able to help others struggling.”

She has since graduated from the program, gotten a job with Solus Christus where she got her start on the road to recovery. The Lord has helped restore relationships and given her complete freedom, she said, and is sharing her story through jail ministry.

She concluded by saying, “I don’t know what God has for the future, but I have complete faith He will be there to guide me.”

The third graduate to share her testimony was Hayley Crisco who told the crowd that it was nine months ago that she sat where other Capstone girls were sitting on this day.

Her story of going down the wrong path of drinking and drugs started when she was 13, she said. And even though she grew up with both parents and was taken to church, she said, sometimes that doesn’t matter, but, she said, “God has a purpose.”

With emotion, she expressed her gratitude for Capstone as she told that her mom found out about the place and sent her the paperwork but her reaction was she wasn’t going to a place like that, “but God had other plans,” Crisco said. She went to court and the judge ordered her to go there, “which is exactly what I needed.”

Since graduating from the program, she has earned her GED, gotten married and they now have a child.

Referring to the song that Gilbert sang earlier Crisco said she was “glad that God picks me back up and restores broken pieces and makes us better than what we were before. I’m grateful to be here today.”

She concluded by encouraging everyone to bid on the silent auction items or make a donation, “because it raises money for these ladies to have a changed life so they can come up here in nine months.”

It changes lives, she said, and that she was living proof.

Kelly Carriker, who serves as the house mom at the treatment center, said the change that happens in such a short amount of time with the ladies is incredible.

“I think it’s always a blessing to meet the ladies when they first come in and that transition in that nine months is so incredible in such a short amount of time,” she said. “It’s just amazing to be able to be a part of that.”

Capstone provides nine months of residential treatment for women who have suffered from substance abuse, and the program is all free, Ramirez said.

In attendance at the event was Bekah Motley who shared that many who are in the program have attended Trading Ford Baptist Church, where she attends and she has gotten to know some, including her best friend Meredith North, another program graduate.

North said she had just gotten to Capstone when Motley’s husband was killed in a car wreck. She asked the house mom how Bekah was doing and learned she had gone to see her grandmother in Ellerbe, which is where North was from, along with her grandmother too, and in time, the two became best friends.

North said she lost her mom to cancer in 2019 and after that just didn’t want to continue living like she was anymore. 

“I want my mom to be proud of me,” she said. “I want to make a life where I’m proud of myself, and so I was like I have to do something different.”

Wanting and needing a place that had counseling, she said, she found Capstone and “it completely changed everything for me.”

She shared that her sister was also in addiction and she prayed hard for her. Her sister is now clean as well, she said.

Dr. Oscar Ramirez took a moment to thank those who went through training to become counselors. He said over the past 12 years, he had trained approximately 12 to 15 other counselors and asked them to stand to be recognized because, he said, “you have had an integral part of this ministry,” and pointed out that the teaching aspect of teaching others “has a ripple effect in the community.”