Joshua Castle Coots was the son of a Pentacostal minister, who got hooked on drugs, and later died from health problems related to his one-time addiction, even though he had been clean for several years. Although drugs took Joshua’s life, a foundation named after him has been able to save the lives of others, and it is looking to expand near Corbin.
“A minister’s kid is not supposed to be on drugs, especially not in eastern Kentucky. If we’ve never seen a devil, if we’ve never seen an evil, this is a demon. It doesn’t take six weeks for this to get a hold of you,” Joshua’s father, Donnie Coots, told a crowd of dozens of area residents gathered at the Corbin Technology Center Monday evening.
“Most tell me they did it one time, and they were hooked or addicted to drugs. It’s not like going out and having a few beers on Saturday night, and having a little bit of a hangover in the morning. This stuff will get you, and get you right now. When it’s got you, it will do its best to keep you. I want to tell you right now that if it keeps you, you will be like Joshua.
“Joshua didn’t die of an overdose. Joshua didn’t die that way, but he died just the same of drugs.”
Donnie Coots found out about his son’s drug usage when he went to the hospital to visit a woman, whose mother he knew most of his life.
“This lady overdosed, and she was right at the point of death,” Coots said. “I walked up beside her bed, and said, ‘Honey, how did you get here.?’ She looked at me and said, ‘Why is Josh not here.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘Why isn’t Joshua here, he did more than I did last night.’ It was a shock to us.”
Donnie Coots said he looked and looked, and finally found a treatment facility for his son that worked. It was a faith-based recovery program in Brazil, Indiana.
After getting clean from drugs, Joshua Coots developed a dream of starting a similar drug treatment center in his hometown near Viper.
“Joshua’s dream was that there be a facility that didn’t hinge on who you were, or what you were, but offered level ground to walk on,” Donnie Coots said.
Not long after his death, Joshua’s dad and his brother, Jeff, made sure that his dream became a reality.
Donnie borrowed $300,000 from a bank, to open the doors of Joshua’s Dream Foundation in January 2003.
The program is currently located in Cornettsville in a former orphanage once known as the Open Door Children’s Home.
During that first year of operation, the program served over 160 residents.
Since that time, 60 percent of those have stayed drug free, and 49 percent either found a job or went back to school.
So far, 281 people have been served through the program, including 23 people from Whitley County.
Founders are considering opening a second location in Whitley County, and have reportedly been given a 20-acre parcel of land and a seven-acre parcel of land, one of which is near Williamsburg. Founders have also reportedly received a track of land in Clay County that has modular buildings on it where a third center could locate.
“We’ve come tonight to offer you our help. If the community wants to support a Joshua’s Dream, let’s do it,” noted Joshua’s Dream CEO Jeff Coots.
“We are seeking funding as we speak. I believe that is going to happen,” added Donnie Coots.
Payment for the program is based on a sliding scale, and a person with a household income of $12,000 or less will pay $2,600 for the program.
Donnie Coots said no one is turned away though if they can’t pay. The money is paid through sponsors, who Joshua’s Dream Foundation are in the process of trying to line up in the area.
Donnie Coots said the foundation has looked at various local properties, but declined to say where they were at the request of the current property owners.
The program at Joshua’s Dream Foundation focuses on three areas, power and faith in Jesus Christ, the necessity of work and work ethic, and the nurturing of spiritual, scholastic, and character building education.
During the two-hour meeting Monday, local residents got the chance to hear from several residents at Joshua’s Dream, some of whom are from Whitley County.
Their message was simple. Drugs are every where including Whitley County, and Joshua’s Dream can work.
One resident, who identified himself only as Billy, said he grew up half a mile from the Corbin Police Department.
As a teenager, Billy began drinking and smoking marijuana. When he enlisted in the army, he graduated doing cocaine and taking Xanax.
After leaving the military where he worked on helicopter engines, Billy was arrested for robbing someone in order to get money to buy drugs. He spent 33 months in prison, and continued doing drugs there.
Two years later, Billy was living in a home near Gatliff. It didn’t have heat, electricity, or running water. He went down to the creek to bathe.
On a cold February day nearly two years go, he called Judy Thacker, a probation and parole officer, to say he needed help.
“It was hard for me to say ‘I’m an addict,'” he told the audience.
Thacker said she knew of a 30-day program she could get him in. Billy told her that wasn’t long enough, and neither was the three-month program she had available.
When told about the eight-month program at Joshua’s Dream, Billy decided that might be long enough to do him some good.
Dustin Clark, who lived many places before moving to Whitley County, noted that “Out of everywhere I’ve ever lived, Whitley County is probably the worst for drugs.”
Clark said he tried several secular programs before coming to Joshua’s Dream.
At the time he got there, he only weighed 109 pounds, and stayed up on drugs for nearly 30 days at a time.
“It’s a wonder I’m not dead,” he noted.
Eric Rice, a Fifth Street resident in Corbin, has been in the program for over seven months, and graduates Dec. 11. He plans to go to a transitional facility, and will start college next semester.
Rice drank, did his first Xanax and smoked his first joint when he was only 13 years old.
The problem escalated from there until Rice, who is now 19, reached the point where he started shooting up Oxycontin.
“I couldn’t afford my habit, and got to stealing,” he said.
Rice went to jail, and got out to go to Crossroads for 28 days.
“I got kicked out of there, and got mandated up to Joshua’s Dream, and it has changed my life tremendously. I got my GED while I was there. They help you get a steady work basis down, and have a level keel where you can start all over. You have to let it all go,” Rice said. “You can’t hold onto your past at all. You have to let your past be the past, and just look forward to the future.”
Rice said that while alcoholics anonymous teaches you to look to a “higher power, ” the Joshua’s Dream program teaches residents that they need to look to God.
It also provides more time than the 30 days many people go through at some drug treatment programs.
“30 days just gets your body clean, not your mind,” Rice said. “Up at Joshua’s Dream, you have enough time to have mind clean, and your body clean through Christ.”
He said the program encourages people to look toward the present rather than the past.
Rice said a big key to beating drugs is having the desire to stop.
“You have to have the want to that’s all there is to it. You can’t quit unless you want to,” Rice noted.
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