Every sober living home in Frederick was recently given a gift card to help meet the needs of its residents during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The effort was led by Project Lifeline, a new local nonprofit that focuses on bringing awareness to and supporting those suffering from or in treatment for substance abuse.

“It actually was a very easy decision that we made,” said Rick Hamilton, a co-founder of Project Lifeline. “We were fortunate enough to have some money in our foundation account, and we just felt it was appropriate to go where it was most needed.”

Hamilton co-founded the nonprofit with his fiancee, Angie Stayton, and his cousin Marj Gray.

“We’re just trying to help people,” he said.

Stayton and Hamilton are in touch with leaders in the recovery community and knew that job loss and business closures would affect people living in sober houses “pretty negatively and pretty quickly.”

They wanted to help but also didn’t want to go into every individual house and risk infecting residents or themselves with the novel coronavirus.

“What we came up with was we would limit our contact with people as much as possible, we would give gift cards for each house for an equal amount,” Hamilton said, adding that they did give a little extra to the house with children.

They communicated with each house and found out what supermarket each gift card should be from.

“We asked them what grocery store would be most convenient for them ... and then we went to each of those stores and bought gift cards,” Stayton said. “They were extremely grateful.”

Stayton said house leaders and residents were happy that they weren’t forgotten and that Project Lifeline wanted to help.

Hamilton agreed, saying that when they started the project, houses said one of their main problems was with groceries.

“They seemed really eager to get gift cards for whatever grocery store was convenient for them that way they could really get what they need as opposed to what we thought they may need,” he said.

Additional funds were also given to the house with children. Stayton said that being confined to a house with five or six children can be challenging, and they wanted to help parents keep their children occupied.

“Anything helps,” she said.

Being in recovery is personal for Hamilton, who said he got sober in Frederick.

“I just kind of talked to Angie about what would that have looked [like] if I wasn’t able to work,” he said. “The local recovery community is really really just amazing in Frederick County, and to not have their support right now could have dire consequences.”

It could be a matter of life and death.

“They’re one decision away from going back out and if we can do anything collectively to help keep them on their recovery path, that’s what we’re going to do,” Hamilton said.

Follow Hannah Himes on Twitter: @hannah_himes.

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