Willie Carter Outreach Center provides hope to those with substance abuse struggles

Published 12:28 am Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Port Arthur mother raising a child with cerebral palsy was stuck for years in a cycle of drug addiction.

The additional pressure of ensuring her child had everything needed made it harder for her to stay sober. And in turn, her son began to develop depression.

But through the help of the Willie Carter Outreach Center, the man in his mid-20s is now an active participant of the local non-profit, coming in weekly to assist the center with its needs. And his mother recently celebrated 90 days sober.

The Carter Center is located at 548 W. 11th Street. (Monique Batson/The News)

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That said, Johnny Hulin, is just one of the many success stories to come from the facility that’s been in operation since 2000.

“We provide recovery support services,” said Executive Director Johnny Hulin. “And what that looks like is, any individual who has substance use disorders or mental health disorders can come here and we can help them find the services they need in order for them to be able to live with their particular disorders.”

Hulin said that could mean anyone that’s recently been released from prison; or someone before, during and after clinical treatment.

“We’re here to help them navigate through the changes that they are going to have to go through in order to piece their lives back together,” he said.

All services offered through the facility, located at 548 W. 11th St., are free to the public.

The Carter Center was one of 13 local nonprofits to receive grant money last month from the inaugural Port Arthur News Season of Giving powered by Port Arthur LNG.

Some of the resource materials available at the Carter Center. (Monique Batson/The News)

In addition to helping individuals navigate through certain challenges, the center hosts recovery meetings every night at 8 p.m. and online meetings twice a week for those with underlying health conditions that would rather not be in large gatherings.

They also have a computer lab where people can get access to email, job applications, and other needs.

“Housing, getting a driver’s license, or shoes for a job – all those areas that would necessarily cause an issue for someone that’s trying to put their lives back together,” Hulin said. “The Carter Center kind of acts as the hub for recovery resources, no matter what that is — whether it’s from traditional meetings to finding houses of faith to hot meals. You name it, we’re here for whatever services the individual needs.”

But another large part of the center is community service.

Each year they host one of the city’s largest back-to-school fairs.

In 2019, they delivered 100 backpacks with school supplies to every Port Arthur ISD campus. Last year, the event was done as a drive-through, where they also provided food and hygiene bags for those in need.

And that is a service as much to the center’s recipients as the community, as those who receive services from the Carter Center volunteer in the community service projects.

“I’ve seen some cry like a baby,” he said. “It was the first time someone trusted them enough to let them give back.”