MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The addiction triage center in Morgantown, Lauren’s Wish, has received a Congressionally Directed Spending Grant of $838,000 from the office of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.

The center is located at Hazel’s House of Hope on Scott Avenue and has a 28-bed capacity, common areas where those in recovery can relax, socialize, and hold group therapy sessions, two TV rooms, and a workout facility.

Operations manager Brandon Wise said this grant will go a long way toward stabilizing the organization and the services they offer.

“It’s really going to open the doors for us to stay open, number one,” Wise said. “Number two, really make sure the clients get the care they need; all their basic needs are met.”

A “triage center” is designed for people struggling with addiction who are ready to make a change but have no other place to go. Lauren’s Wish provides those people with initial services while placing them in an inpatient or other facility for the next phase of treatment.

“Medical expenses, as far as medication goes, sometimes when they come to us, they don’t have insurance or they are in a bad situation and have to leave or lose their medicine, and insurance won’t cover it, so we help out with that,” Wise said.

Since opening in October 2022, Lauren’s Wish has placed about 85 percent of the 496 people that have been admitted into treatment services. From that group, three have gone on to complete classes to work in peer recovery and have served clients at Lauren’s Wish.

“They’re more relatable to clients at that point in time,” Wise said. “It shows the clients that with a little bit of hard work and following the suggestions from the people who helped them, they can find their way out of it.”

Part of the program helps the clients after they have successfully completed addiction treatment. Wise said the staff at Lauren’s Wish has relationships with training and education programs to help people take the next step in their recovery journey.

“We’re working with Jobs for Hope, MTEC (Monongalia County Technical Education Center), and Pierpont Community and Technical College on getting them reeducated and retrained for certification to help build them up, become productive and responsible members of society, and be self-sufficient,” Wise said.

The namesake of the organization, Lauren Cole, had battled addiction for years prior to her fatal fentanyl overdose in July of 2020. The triage center provides a bridge between the time an addict decides to enter treatment and gaining acceptance into a program, which can be an extended period of time due to the depth of the opioid crisis.

“The main thing we’re going to remain focused on is the wish of Lauren to provide a service to those who cannot afford it otherwise,” Wise said. “Maintaining that we remain a free service to them to continue pulling people out of the ashes.”