GLOSS – a way out for those caught in addiction

A band of six former addicts have taken what they know about the consequences of addiction during this pandemic and created a home base for those struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.

“I came up with GLOSS because we had lost so many friends within a month, that something had to change,” said Kelly Parkey. “I didn’t know how to go about it. I just knew that I wanted to do it.

“I contacted five girls – Jolayna Mullins, Kaddie Walker, Areia Smith, Angel Evans and Jessica Compton. Together, we embraced each other’s individual growth in recovery and just allowed it to shine in that area for the best for our community. We don’t make any money off of what we do. We do it, because that’s where our hearts are.”

Girls Loving Ourselves Seriously Sober (GLOSS) serves as a lighthouse for those who have found themselves at a crossroads – bite the bullet and take the path to recovery or, continue down the road to eventual destruction.

“We take people to rehab. We pick up people for meetings and, at times, probation appointments. We appear with them in court. We feed and dress the homeless. We provide rehab information and after recovery assistance that may help with their progress. We do one-on-one sessions. We help people fill out job applications,” said Parkey.

Those under court-ordered community service are racking up their hours helping to organize the GLOSS food and clothing closet.

“If you are hungry, I will feed you. You can knock on my door anytime you need any assistance from me or contact one of the GLOSS girls and they will take care of you,” said Parkey, who is working towards her certification as a recovery coach.

She spoke openly about her years as an addict.

“I’ve been on pills and meth for years and in and out of jail and prison. I’ve neglected my children, all because I refused to receive help.

“I thought I looked cute, but looking back, now that I am sober, I see that I looked dead. I was killing myself. I did everything that I could to feed my addiction. I had both of my boys in prison, all because I said no to rehab, because I wanted drugs more.

“My addiction was bad. But this isn’t turn-key. I slowly started changing my people, places and things. I surrounded myself with positive people that motivated me to do better. I gradually did every step needed and now I have my boys back.”

Jolayna Mullins, who is a certified peer recovery specialist/recovery coach, says that GLOSS stands for hope for the hopeless.

“Hope to those who believe that there is none. Food for the hungry, rides to rehab which may just save their life.

“This is a group of very strong women who offers support to those who have none and connect them with resources they didn’t know were available.”

Kaddie Justin Walker, who is a certified recovery coach, says she is a proud member of the organization.

“Before joining, I was just talking about big dreams with a few friends – one of them being Kelly Parkey. Once Kelly started GLOSS and offered me to join the team I knew right then I couldn’t say no, and was immediately excited.

“GLOSS really took off and was an instant hit. It has given me the opportunity to do what I love – help addicts.”

The organization, she says, is not only for addicts but for anyone in time of need.

“For example, we help people find meetings, rehabs, rides to both, food, clothing, and connecting people to resources they need. I believe this is a much needed service to our community and has been well received and supported. To me GLOSS is a beacon of hope, a life line and sometimes just a friend,” said Walker.

Jessica Compton says that when she “got clean” in 2015, she had to travel four hours away from home to her first treatment center.

“I was so far gone that I couldn’t see past finding the quickest, easiest way out of this life. God pulled me out of the darkness without me even knowing it. I wound up in a psych ward on my birthday. No idea it was my birthday. I went in with nothing. I had very little clothes that fit a 110 pound, 5’ 7” girl.

“When I hit 21 days clean, I transferred to a halfway house. I began gaining weight and had nothing I could wear. No money for anything other than food. The house took a few of us girls regularly to clothing closets, got us hygiene products, helped us to not feel so worthless until we could get a job and afford our own stuff. It was enough to lift the guilt, shame and remorse for all the wrong we had done. And honestly, after going years with nothing besides enough money to buy drugs every day, I felt like a princess to get new-to-me things. It raised my confidence because I came in with none.

“Praise the Lord that we’re finally able to break the stigma here in our hometown. Addiction is not a moral dilemma anymore. We do recover,” said Compton.

Areia Smith says GLOSS is a way to connect in a positive way with her community.

“The outreach that we do really touches my heart. And, it also helps me with my own recovery.”

Parkey says she wants those now in the clutches of addiction who doubt they will ever recover to know that they are not alone.

“I do not want you to think that a drug high is living because I thought it was too, until I changed. You’re killing yourself. You know that you are not yourself.

“If you want to find yourself, please do not be afraid to ask me or any of my friends for help.

“I was real nervous about this, but then I thought what if I didn’t and another was taken by drugs and I never spoke up? That would hurt me more. Just know that you are not alone. Together we can fight this addiction.”

For more information, contact Parkey at 423-489-2689. Donations of clothing, hygiene products or household items may be dropped off in person at 975 US Hwy 25E in Tazewell.

The organization now has a cash app for monetary donations. The app is $WeAreGloss.