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No Longer Bound celebrates 25 years serving Forsyth
NLB WEB
Edward Bailey, executive director of No Longer Bound, speaks to the audience Thursday at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center for the nonprofit's annual banquet. - photo by Paul Dybas

By the Numbers

* 900,000 Georgians are addicted to drugs or alcohol
* 1,200 men have graduated from No Longer Bound
No Longer Bound opened its doors in 1991
A banquet fundraising goal of $300,000 funded 60 men through the program

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in or donating to No Longer Bound, visit NoLongerBound.com.

SOUTH FORSYTH -- The room was filled with fancy centerpieces and handcrafted decorations, but it was the men who sat one per table who stole the show.

Each young man, sitting surrounded by family and other community members, is a participant in No Longer Bound, a recovery and regeneration program in Forsyth County for men overcoming addiction.

They told their stories and listened to others’ successes, all supporting one another.

The nonprofit held their annual banquet at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center last week, this year celebrating 25 years in the community — or, as they all said, 25 years of hope.

“We can keep the costs of residents low with events like this … it invests in peoples’ lives,” said Edward Bailey, executive director of the ministry-based program. “Tonight’s efforts put 60 residents through No Longer Bound.”

No Longer Bound puts residents through a 12-month regeneration program, where they live on-site for the year and visit families on the weekends. There, Bailey said, they learn to develop a relationship with God, themselves and others while receiving vocational training.

Since its inception by Mike Harden in 1991, No Longer Bound has graduated more than 1,200 men.

“That’s 1,200 sons, fathers, brothers, husbands, that were part of broken families who were not supposed to make it,” Bailey said.

Every staff member, including Bailey, is a graduate of the program, so men coming in know they can trust those around them and know they are surrounded by people who understand what they are going through.

Maury Spivey was one of the young men sitting at a table and who hopes to become one of those 1,200-plus in six months.

By 20 years old, he had been arrested four times for driving under the influence, drugs and hit and run, and he said it took him sitting in jail for three months to realize he wanted more in life.

“I thought the wrong things were important, and I took that and ran with it,” Spivey said. “And it took me losing everything I ever had to realize that’s not the way to go.”

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“I can change my life”

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While the night was highlighted with graduates’ video testimonies and a keynote speech by Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen CEO Cheryl Bachelder, the announcement of this year’s Servant Leader Award surprised even the recipient.

“I was prepared to introduce somebody else. I don’t feel like I deserve it, really. I do what I do because it’s just what I do,” Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley said.

Bagley was honored with the program’s second annual Servant Leader Award for his leadership in finding ways to help those suffering from addiction other than through legal punishment.

“Sending someone to jail or prison simply makes them want to go back out and use even more when they’re released from prison. So what we try to do is intervene in their life, to use the court system, use the criminal justice system, really as a hammer to coerce them and force them to get better and to change,” Bagley said. “And it really does work with our combination of treatment and counseling and the hammer of the court system.”

He said the stories he hears from drug court graduates are “so familiar” to those he hears from No Longer Bound graduates.

After being a servant leader through his drug court efforts over the last 12 and a half years, he has not lost enthusiasm.

“It’s just so rewarding to see the change in the lives of the people that come before the court,” he said, “and I’m just blessed.”

No Longer Bound’s Bailey said there are about 900,000 Georgians addicted to drugs or alcohol, and while that may be a daunting number, that he encourages people to “do for one what they wish they could do for everyone.”

“I was looking around at programs and I saw No Longer Bound, and I was like, ‘A year-long program talking about God? That’s not going to happen.’ But I got on their website and watched their videos and related to their stories, and I thought maybe I can change my life at this place,” Spivey said, “and, so far, I’ve been right.

“Now I have a strong relationship with Christ, and I wouldn’t change it for nothing. And I’m only six months in … It gives me hope … I get to see people change every day. Everything has changed since I’ve been to No Longer Bound.”