Lost Dreams Awakening Celebrates Space Growth and Service Expansion in New Kensington


A New Kensington-based community recovery center is celebrating the expansion and growth of its space and services.

Lost Dreams Awakening has more than doubled its space in the building the nonprofit has rented at 408 Eighth St. since its founding in 2014. It also hired its first paid staff in eight recovery coaches, backed by a federal grant totaling nearly $1 million over three years.

“It’s exciting. I’ve never worked harder at anything else I’ve ever done,” said Laurie Johnson-Wade, co-founder and director of Lost Dreams Awakening with her husband, VonZell Wade: “We can’t fail. It’s not an option. People’s lives depend on it.”

Seeking to help people with substance use disorders, Lost Dreams Awakening serves several hundred people a month from Westmoreland and Allegheny counties. He sees around 1,500 people with over 10,000 visits per year.

Harrison City’s Nicole Carson scored six years of recovery on Wednesday. She first entered Lost Dreams Awakening five and a half years ago to volunteer, which she continues to do.

“I had the chance to meet Dr. VonZell and Laurie. From the start, they were mentors to me,” Carson said. “I just needed a place to go where someone understood me.”

Carson is now Regional Outreach Manager for DreamLife Recovery in Donegal, which works with Lost Dreams Awakening.

“I used in Westmoreland County, I recovered in Westmoreland County, and now I’m part of the solution in Westmoreland County,” she said.

Carson saw Wade and Johnson-Wade rely on donations and fundraising to keep Lost Dreams Awakening afloat.

“They worked so hard and they prayed so hard,” she said. “Seeing this finally come true is a blessing. It’s an incredible blessing, and it’s so needed.

With the bulk of resources concentrated in Greensburg and Pittsburgh, Johnson-Wade said it was important that their 24/7 organization was located in New Kensington, near the outskirts of the two counties. .

“We also need help. That’s why we are here,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of people doing what we do.

“We are here every day. We are rooted in the community we serve,” she said. “Our mantra is, ‘How can we help you with your well-being today?’ ”

At its location, Lost Dreams Awakening moved into the space previously occupied by Southwest Behavioral Care. This organization moved to Kensington Square, across Fourth Avenue, after the New Kensington Council in May 2021 rejected its application to use an office building on Industrial Boulevard for its outpatient counseling services in mental health and addiction.

Wade said they needed more space and looked for other locations in New Kensington before space became available in their building.

Johnson-Wade said they are using the new space for a fitness room, wellness room, yoga room, offices and lounge for trainers, as well as a meditation room. There is also a new reception.

A room in the extra space will house a biosonic therapy bed, which Lost Dreams Awakening is getting with the help of a $16,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. The bed will help decrease a variety of symptoms including stress, depression, cravings, fear, anger, and racing thoughts.

While such equipment may be familiar to those living in more affluent areas, the grant will help expand its availability to more people, Wade said.

“We strive to keep our services free whether you have insurance or not,” he said.

The recovery coaches are funded by a $300,000 annual grant from the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which Lost Dreams Awakening will receive annually for three years.

“We’ve never had employees until now,” Johnson-Wade said. “We were all volunteers.

Johnson-Wade said the coaches will help people make recovery plans, with day-to-day life doing things like taking them to groceries and medical appointments and helping them find housing.

Vandergrift’s Stephanie Taylor is one of the new recovery coaches. Addicted for 15 years, she says she has been abstinent for just over three years.

Taylor said she started coming to Lost Dreams Awakening for meetings and remained a volunteer. She is working towards becoming a Certified Recovery Specialist, using her own experience to help others.

“I want to show people that healing is possible,” she said. “I am living proof.”

The growth of the organization is exciting, Taylor said.

“It’s going to open the door to a lot of different, new and exciting things about recovery as a whole,” she said. “We are going to be able to impact the lives of many more people.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Brian by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .


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