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United Way to host workshop focusing on effect of addiction on families and children

The event is virtual and free to the public
Grace Welply addiction effects.jpg
Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 18:24:53-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Grace Welply grew up in a family affected by addiction. Her father dealt with substance abuse and her mother had mental health issues.

“For me, it was growing up with lots of yelling, fighting in the house, never really feeling safe. The stability wasn’t there,” she said.

As the oldest of three girls, Welply took a role of responsibility looking over her younger sisters.

“I thought that was normal,” she said. “But, when I’d go to my friends’ houses, I’d see their parents, and they didn’t fight as often as mine did. The dynamic was much more healthy. So, it really reminded me that mine wasn’t healthy, and I had to find out much later how unhealthy it actually was.”

That experience inspired her on the career path that led her to her current field. Welply is a clinical manager with Cenikor, an organization that helps people fighting addiction, and those closet to that person, get help.

Welpy is a licensed counselor for mental health and substance abuse.

“It really started to hit me when I was actually in college, that my family was very dysfunctional, and why that was. So, that kind of pushed me into the field. And I was probably about 18, 19, when it really hit me what was going on,” she said.

Welpy will be the guest speaker for the United Way of the Coastal Bend’s workshop Thursday, that focuses on the effects of addiction on family members, especially children.

“We have some issues with addiction in our community. We know the impact of our family and children is great,” said Sherry Peterson, the Success By 6 director of UWCB. “So, this is a way of giving knowledge and understanding to programs, organizations, neighbors, friends about what is addiction? What does it look like? How does it shape an individual, and how does it impact the family?”

This workshop is part of the UWCB ‘Real Talk’ series, which is designed to create conversations about difficult topics.

“We hope to create a community that’s caring and responsive to the needs of its people,” Peterson said. “One group of people is those who are struggling with addiction issues, so that’s why this topic is really important to us. The end game for us, is children are living in a safe, stable, nurturing environment.”

“So children aren’t adapting too much to their toxic environment, and they get to unlearn the behaviors that people they grew up in the home with might have been struggling with,” Welply said.

Welply said the issues associated with mental health and substance abuse problems are just as prevalent now as they were when she was young.

“Substance use is not going away, and with the pandemic, we’re going to see the effects of mental health and substance abuse disorders increase, along with depression and anxiety, because of the isolation the pandemic has caused,” she said. “It’s not going away, so it’s really important that we stay focused on the problem at hand, and that’s getting the people the help and the services that they need.”

The workshop is free to the public and virtual, but registration is required prior to the event. The event will be on Thursday from 10 to 11:30 a.m.