Narcotics Anonymous group to begin in January
By ROWENA PLETT, Staff writer
Kendra Henry of Hillsboro knows what it’s like to lose everything to drug addiction and depression, and get it back again. Now she wants to share her story with others to keep them from going through the same hell. With the help of Main Street Ministries, which is providing a location, and Grace Community Church, which donated tables and chairs, Henry will be starting a Narcotics Anonymous group in Marion County in January.
Henry has been “clean” for four years. She was hired in May as the “on-site” staff at Main Street Ministries. She works as a cook at Marion Senior Center during the day and oversees MSM residents during evening and nighttime hours. Henry was born in Hillsboro and grew up in a dysfunctional home that included physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
As it turns out, her saving grace may have been her grandparents, the late Emice and Lydia Hein, who made her go to church with them every Sunday. After graduating from Hillsboro High School in 1994, she had two daughters out of wedlock, married in 2001, and had two more daughters. The couple owned a farm, and Henry had dairy goats to supply milk for her children, who were allergic to cow’s milk. She was working as a nurse’s aide at Wesley Medical Center in 2009 when her world fell apart. She found out her husband was abusing her oldest daughter. He left the area, was charged three years later, but his whereabouts is unknown.
“When that happened, my foundation and faith were shaken,” she said. “I had nothing to stand on. I didn’t know what to do. It really devastated the whole family.” She was angry with God and didn’t know how to handle her emotions.
“I gave up my life,” she said. She got in with the wrong crowd and became addicted to methamphetamine. “I knew nothing I was doing was good, but I guess the drugs helped me cope,” she said.
She eventually lost her kids, her home, and her farm. In January 2015, Judge Michel Powers sent her to MIRROR in Sedgwick, a halfway house for women, where she received four month of one-on-one counseling for depression and drug addiction. “I was retaught how to work and become part of society,” she said.
She also joined a Narcotics Anonymous group, which helped her to acknowledge her addiction and stay clean. She walked two miles to weekly meetings. “I would have done that for dope, so why wouldn’t I do that to stay clean,” she said. After she agreed to spend a few months at Oxford House, where she learned “clean and sober living,” her younger daughters were returned to her and she moved to Marion.
Carlsons’ Grocery hired her, and life began to return to normal. She attended Circles meetings every Thursday, where people learn how to get out of poverty. “People looked at me in a different light,” she said. “They didn’t judge me, and they loved my family.” She was happy to have her girls and pay bills, but life was a struggle financially. After suffering a couple of devastating losses, she said she gave herself up to a “higher power” and surrendered to his will.
She applied for the job at Main Street Ministries and then got the job at the senior center. Her three youngest daughters live with her. They attend Marion schools. Daughter Kimmie Duncan, 18, is a senior; Helen Henry, 14, is an eighth grader; and 11-year-old Molly Henry is a fifth grader. Now their mother is on a mission to help others. She doesn’t want other people to lose their children, as she did.
“I’ve gotten my life back again, and it would be selfish to keep my story to myself,” she said. “I have a passion to establish a NA group in Marion County. There’s no place to go for help here. It’s important for addicts to talk to other people who understand what they are experiencing.”
She still attends NA meetings in Wichita and is promoting her new group at area NA groups. She said people from Newton and Wichita plan to help her get started in Hillsboro. The first meeting will be 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in a meeting room with a private entrance at MSM. The group will be co-ed and open to the public. Henry has named it Common Ground NA of Marion County.
“My life has come full circle,” she said. “It’s taken as long to get back as it did to lose it all. I understand why I went through what I did, and now I can help others.”
This article first appeared in the Marion County Record on December 2o, 2018. www.marionrecord.com/recovering_addict_seeks_to_help_others