Feb. 1—At a meeting of the Clinton County Board of Supervisors last week, Clinton Substance Abuse Council intern Dominic Capella announced that he'd received a notice of intent from the state of Iowa to award a $600,000 grant toward the Rediscover Recovery Community Center that he seeks to establish.
"It's been nine months of pretty much volunteer work to get to this point of now being funded," Capella said.
The grant is a Recovery Community Center Expansion grant administered through the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, which published the notice of intent to award to Capella's Center as well as only one other recipient.
Capella first came to Iowa from Alaska where he grew up. In the late 1980s, his family had decided to move to the Midwest, but Capella was hesitant about the change of environment. He didn't join them until a year later when he was around 18 or 19 years old and found that he did in fact feel that it wasn't the right place for him.
In an attempt to return to the West Coast, Capella joined the United States Coast Guard, which took him on an international ice breaker for the next two years. He then did search and rescue on the Oregon coast for the subsequent six years and decided thereafter to stay in Bookings, Oregon, 13 miles from the California border. It was there that he was first introduced to methamphetamine.
Capella spent the next 12 years of his life in active addiction until he was arrested in 2012 and charged with theft by receiving. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, of which he would serve seven before being released.
After he was, Capella decided to finally join his family in Clinton and chose education as being his motivation not to return to drug use and addiction.
Three years after the end of his prison sentence, in May of last year, Capella earned a bachelor's degree in social work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport. He currently attends as a graduate student in pursuit of his master's degree.
For the past couple years, Capella has led weekly peer recovery support meetings with the inmates of the Clinton County Jail. He also has been volunteering with the Clinton Substance Abuse Council as a Peer Recovery Outreach Coordinator intern.
CSAC is a non-profit organization whose prevention-driven purpose is to build strong, stable and informed community-based coalitions in the Gateway area, such as the Camanche-DeWitt Coalition and the Gateway ImpACT Coalition, that work to establish healthy and caring communities free of substance abuse and related behavioral health issues.
"None of this would have been possible without the help of [CSAC Executive Director] Kristin Huisenga and the Clinton Substance Abuse Council," Capella said. "And she approached her board of directors to give me space, technology, a computer, a desk, and a chance to work on all this."
Huisenga supported Capella's idea to address a gap that exists in local resources and taught him about the strategic planning that it takes to open a non-profit, Capella said, and got him to the point of having the humility to write the 32-page comprehensive grant application that he submitted to the state.
"When you're quitting your brain is telling you if you don't use you're going to die, and it makes you feel like you're dying," Capella told The Herald in July of last year. "But now here I am 11 years later clean and sober and thriving in my recovery, so I want to spread that message of hope to anybody that will listen."
A study conducted in 2022 by Dr. Kenneth Smith reported that 83% of individuals who used peer-based recovery coach services for one year remained abstinent.
Capella says that Recovery Community Centers have been proven to reduce substance use, criminal justice involvement, and health care costs in their communities, providing societal benefits that save taxpayer dollars.
The Rediscover Recovery Community Center is to be a low-barrier, drop-in center that requires no referral, evaluation or insurance. Entirely peer-based, the center will eliminate the power differential that exists in clinical recovery settings and embrace multiple pathways to recovery.
"Every individual is unique and how they became addicted is unique," Capella said, "so their path to recovery is also unique."
Capella plans to offer recovery coaching, daily peer support meetings, and a telephone recovery service in which coaches place regular calls just to check in on someone.
The center will be a place for people to find new support systems, Capella said, and positive lifestyle changes.
"To rediscover the life you dreamed of," he said.
In October of 2023, the Rediscover Recovery Community Center received federal 501©(3) non-profit status, giving Capella the ability to seek funding for the Center.
After submitting his application to the state, Capella waited nervously for a month and five days before finding the notice of intent published online.
"I broke down," he said. "I was that person where I'd given up on life. I knew I was going to use methamphetamine until the day I die, and I had accepted that. I accepted my life as being a drug addict until the day I die, so let's get it over as fast as we can."
But now, being a "carrier of hope," he says, "gives you an ultimate purpose."
Administration of the grant funding will start March 1 and Capella has until June 1 to have the Center open and operational, with an area for the children of those in recovery to be able to play.
"People in recovery, and people even in long-term recovery, everybody wants to give back, and now we're finally going to have a place to do that," Capella said. "I've been walking the streets of Downtown Clinton."
To fulfill requirements of the State to have two full-time paid employees, Capella will take on the position of Peer Recovery Support Director and advertise for the position of Peer Recovery Support Manager, giving another person in recovery the opportunity to make recovery their profession.
The grant will reimburse for expenditures up to the awarded amount, so Capella says starting capital is yet needed.
On Sept. 19 of last year, Capella presented to the Clinton County Board of Supervisors in hopes of being awarded a portion of $2 million that the county began receiving last year from a multi-state lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Claims asserted that certain drug companies and pharmaceutical distributors engaged in misleading and fraudulent conduct. The county will receive the funding in increments through 2038. Discussions on the allocation of the funding are to come to conclusions in the near future.
Capella will meet with the Clinton Opioid Settlement Leadership Team to request $50,000 in startup capital early next month. His request will then be brought before the County Board of Supervisors.