FRONT ROYAL – The McShin Foundation is officially established at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and other government officials were there Friday afternoon to see the program launched.

“This is not a program we can arrest our way out of,” Herring said. “Its roots are in the medicine cabinet, and addiction can happen to any of us. We must have a multi-faceted approach, and a key part of that approach is treatment and recovery. I have seen how peer to peer support works.”

The McShin Foundation, founded by John Shinholser, is a recovery community organization that offers a program that includes peer-to-peer recovery support services at the jail and resources for addicts such as halfway houses, transitional recovery houses and opiate detox. The re-entry component to the project will take place through The McShin Foundation in Richmond, which will provide the housing and recovery support services to individuals as they re-enter society. The ultimate goal of this project is to reduce recidivism and other societal problems created by substance use.

Herring, Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Mount Jackson, and others were taken back into the jail to a pod where 61 inmates who had volunteered to take part in the program were waiting.

“I want to thank you, that you volunteered for that. I have seen the great work that they (McShin Foundation) do,” Herring said.

An inmate called out: “I want to thank you for your help.”

“Amen,” others cried while clapping echoed in the room.

Herring took a few minutes to walk around and talk to the inmates, many expressing their excitement about the program.

The McShin Foundation, founded in 2004, recently received a $200,000 matching grant that allows it to bring its recovery program to the regional jail. It will also be starting a program at the Riverside Regional Jail in Prince George County.

During the event, Shinholser said he was feeling fabulous. He talked about the grant and that McShin would need community help to match that $200,000 to sustain the grant.

“This is the fifth jail that we started a program in. We want to have programs in as many as we can, where ever we can,” Shinholser said.

Shinholser asked how many people had addiction impact their life. More than half of the people in the room raised their hands, including Kate Obenshain Keeler, who sits on the McShin Advisory Council. Obenshain Keeler is the sister of Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg.

Keeler shared her personal story of her youngest son, who has battled mental illness and drug addiction for six years.

“I never thought I would be here talking about addiction. Ten years ago I was in the group who said lock them up and throw away the key. I had had zero personal experience,” Keeler said.

She said it is time to start looking toward Shinholser and others to find a solution to the epidemic. She said she was grateful that Herring and Gilbert were there.

“Let’s all start working together. These programs are a huge part of the solution,” Keeler said.

Contact Melissa Topey at mtopey@nvdaily.com