Stacy Dodd recalled when he was a boy that he often sought refuge in the woods where he played and enjoyed the great outdoors.
Dodd, who now spends most of his time indoors, works as Director of Operations for Turning Point Recovery Center in Southaven. He is the vision behind the Hope Center program centered in Horn Lake and he is working with Celebrate Recovery for those dealing with addiction.
Dodd was recently nominated among a list of candidates for the Southaven Chamber of Commerce's Man of the Year Award.
It's his latest project that is literally creating a path in the wilderness for people who feel lost in the world of addiction.
When Turning Point, part of the national Addiction Campuses network, renovated a former hotel into a state-of-the-art addiction treatment and recovery in-house facility, Dodd noticed the heavily-wooded area to the north of the treatment center.
"It's a beautiful thing," said Dodd, adding that trails were carefully carved from the tall stand of oak, elm and other hardwoods. Picnics tables, Adirondack chairs and colorful, hand-painted signs reading "peace," "serenity," "happiness" and other encouraging words are positioned along the side of trails that meander and wind through the property. There are plans to clean up a natural pond on the property which borders neighboring Tennessee.
"To have 10 acres of woods and trails in Southaven is a wonderful thing - it's a miracle in and of itself. It takes the patients back to their childhood. The woods, the trails actually help them heal.
Dodd said the trails offer a tranquil place to disengaged from the problems and pressures of the world and contemplate peace.
"We have patients who struggle with negativity, said Dodd. "At different times the therapists will take patients out into the woods. We paint big rocks and signs that patients leave along the trails. They are able to leave a piece of themselves, a piece of their heart. They are able to feed the birds. Since we put out bird feed we have had lots of doves, bluebirds, sparrows and all kinds of birds who have come back into the woods."
For Dodd, getting back to nature has meant getting closer to God.
"I share my story of when I was homeless and living in the woods," Dodd said. "The patients open up to me. I was once a liar, a thief and a junkie - that's what I once was. Here at Turning Point we can truthfully say to the patients you are going home in 30 days and you have hope. If they are in jail, you aren't always able to tell them that. I've served time in prison. I wound up giving my life to Jesus. Here at Turning Point we do have a faith-based component. All patients at Turning Point are free to worship as they wish. We have services Sunday night here at Turning Point. We've held baptisms in our pool. We transport our Catholic patients to Catholic mass off campus. If they are Muslim, we'll find them a Koran. I know that I am free to talk about Jesus. There is a new spirit inside of me. It's a spirit that was not in me when I was lost and homeless. I believe God saves lives through us. It's a giant vessel of hope. It's a beautiful thing that is taking place at Turning Point."