Volunteer brings administrative skills to recovery home

  • Mar 25, 2022

Twenty-one years ago, Vanessa Scaife opened the entrance door of the Lighthouse Home with the intention of helping women transition from one chapter of life to another one.

Whether they needed a place to recover from abusive relationships or the guidance beyond the personal struggles of a high school dropout, they found hope at the Lighthouse Home.

In addition to providing a recovery home, she insisted they adopt healthy lifestyle patterns, the type patterns that would return them to the community as productive citizens. One important step they were required to complete was agreeing and signing a personal contract.

“The personal contract reinforces the structure of the home — attending the daily or weekly scheduled meetings, following the 12-step program, obeying the curfew,” Scaife said. “They must have a doctor overseeing any health matters that need to be corrected. All court pending issues need to be taken care of and they must abstain from using drugs and alcohol.”

During those 21 years, she’s witnessed many residents who accepted her recommendations and improved their lives. Others failed to follow instructions and made their exit. She earned a living to support herself and the recovery home by working as a licensed massage therapist. She became a state-certified peer support specialist in order to identify with the challenges some of her residents faced.

Despite assistance from concerned citizens, churches and organizations, Scaife found it difficult to do everything on her home management list.

A shining star emerged three years ago — Shirley McAvoy, a skilled volunteer who brought just the boost Scaife and the Lighthouse Home needed. Scaife said her administrative skills are essential as the needs of the residents and the number of referrals are increasing.

The two had a chance encounter. McAvoy’s struggles with migraines forced her to seek assistance from a massage therapist. She met Vanessa Scaife who was working at Jon Chelle’s Day Spa and Salon in Rocky Mount and struck a common bond. After reading about Scaife in a local publication and hearing Scaife describe efforts to run a recovery home, McAvoy decided to get involved.

She brought years of experience from previous volunteer posts as a school fundraiser, an event planner, a caring parent and a retail sales manager. She scheduled meetings with some key stakeholders in the community to learn more about the resources and helpful contacts they should pursue.

“My volunteer work at The Lighthouse Home allows Vanessa more time to work with each resident to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy practices through coaching, mentoring, goal setting and acting as a role model for recovery,” McAvoy said. “I am also the treasurer, so I maintain the finances, pay the Lighthouse Home bills and monitor spending. With Vanessa’s help, I also write grants to further increase our financial position,” McAvoy said.

Other duties she’s been actively involved in include updating The Lighthouse Home’s brochure, overseeing the creation of a new logo and finding a professional company to create a new website.

McAvoy also credits Erin Gall, another board member, with helping complete marketing tasks, helping to complete print and mail tasks related to their fundraiser, a spring golf tournament and maintaining the Facebook page for the Lighthouse Home.

McAvoy collaborates with Scaife to note the progress of the residents from their entrance to exit date as a means of measuring the impact of the recovery program. She also set some deadlines to complete long overdue repairs at a home that has served many residents.

“We had some rotting wood, cracks in the tiles in the bathroom, problems with the foundation that needed repairs. It wasn’t easy to get people to come over during COVID-19 for estimates, but we found the help we needed,” she said. “The Barnhill Family Foundation paid for and completed the foundation repairs and repairs to both bathrooms. It looks great now.”

Their efforts to increase community awareness prompted more local businesses, families and churches to support The Lighthouse Home with monetary donations, toiletries and supplies for the home. Their support remains crucial given the rising number of referrals they receive from area health and mental health sources.

McAvoy describes Scaife as one of the most compassionate people she knows. Scaife is a happy, passionate caregiver despite hardships she has faced in her own life, McAvoy said. Scaife is a breast cancer survivor who overcame the abuse of her pain medications.

At one time, the four-bedroom house was a recovery zone and place of residency that she too needed. They’ve spent three years working diligently to assure The Lighthouse Home remains a viable recovery zone for all the residents under its roof.

For more details, visit

2nd Annual Golf Tournament – Register NOW

2nd Annual Golf Tournament – Register NOW

The Lighthouse Home is excited to have our 2nd Annual Golf Tournament. This will benefit the resources needed to provide for women who are trying to start fresh after battling substance abuse and addiction. Director Vanessa Scaife dedicated her life to providing a safe and comfortable space for women to support one another through life’s challenges.

The success of the golf tournament in 2019 was the proof that was needed to cement this as the premier fundraiser for The Lighthouse Home. Belmont Lakes Golf Club is the host sponsor, once again, for an event that will include a challenging course, lunch, raffles and friendly competition. The Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce has helped put the fundraiser in front of the business community, which has been a tremendous help. The Chamber has offered to assist with registration, which can be done by clicking on the link below: RESITER NOW.


Golf tourney to benefit women’s shelter

Golf tourney to benefit women’s shelter


The Lighthouse Home tenant Maureen Carson, second from left, shares a laugh with Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris, left, The Lighthouse Home board member Shirley McAvoy, third from left, and Vanessa Scaife, founder and director of The Lighthouse Home, as they visit her room on Wednesday at the nonprofit home.

Staff Writer

Thursday, October 24, 2019

A local nonprofit group helping women get on their feet recovering from drug addiction is getting a helping hand from men and women in their golf cleats.

Belmonte Lake Golf Club and the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce are hosting a golf tournament benefiting The Lighthouse Home on Nov. 8. A single player can register for $125 and a team of four can register to compete for $400. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 8 and the shotgun start is at 12:30 p.m.

Interested golfers can pre-register at or by calling volunteer Shirley McAvoy at 252-904-4793.

The Lighthouse Home Director Vanessa Scaife has been running the organization that comes to the aid of local women recovering from substance abuse for 19 years. The home on Eastern Avenue in Rocky Mount is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offers shelter to women who are in transition, working toward the next chapter of their lives. The shelter provides a structured and supportive environment for women who need a fresh start while struggling to fight back against substance abuse and subsequent life events that left them homeless.

“Drug addiction makes you hopeless and helpless, and even after you’ve detoxed and the drugs are out of your system, it can be hard to change your thinking — to see the possibilities for your life and to forgive all the things you’ve squandered,” Scaife said. “I know those feelings. I’ve lived those feelings. And I’m here to show women that come here how to come through what they’re going through and heal. I help them feel hope again.”

Scaife said she’s grateful for the work of her board members and friends like David Farris, president and CEO of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Having some assistance in raising money to fund The Lighthouse is vital to its existence. We’ve scraped by all these years based on my income from my ‘real job’ and a few other supporters like the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rocky Mount, but the burden was getting heavy,” Scaife said. “To have others ready and willing to help support The Lighthouse Home means so much to me. I feel more hopeful than I’ve felt in a long time. I think David and some new supporters we’ve gotten — like Tim Wilke at Belmonte — get what we’re doing. And they care, they really care.”

Scaife credits her new board president Shirley McAvoy with infusing the nonprofit organization with new energy and determination.

“Shirley has been my biggest cheerleader and advocate for the women in the home for a while now,” Scaife said. “Her compassion and spirit is a gift to me and The Lighthouse. She truly understands our mission and said, ‘I’m going to do something to help’ — and here we are, having a golf tournament and making community partnerships and raising money to help these women in our community. Shirley is special.”

The house can shelter up to seven women and has one temporary bed that can serve as a crisis bed for short-term purposes. The women cook for themselves, clean the home and go to therapy classes, AA meetings and job training classes. The goal for the women is to become healthy and self-sufficient, moving out on their own when they’re ready. There is no one-size-fits-all timeline and Scaife works with each woman individually to establish goals and milestones. Many of the women in the shelter are fighting opioid addiction.

Farris said he’s committed to The Lighthouse Home and feels the work Scaife offers women fighting substance abuse is important.

“I read about what The Lighthouse Home was doing earlier this summer, and my wife and I wanted to learn more. We were both moved by Vanessa’s compassion and devotion to helping these women make it and become productive members of our community,” Farris said.

Farris noted that the opioid epidemic has touched many families in the Twin Counties and it’s a problem that must be addressed on a community level.

“There are many ways to help people with addiction issues, but Vanessa’s approach to heal them in a home, with one-on-one compassion, is something I’m really impressed with. I want to help her succeed — to help them all succeed,” he said.

McAlvoy is excited about sharing the work that Vanessa and The Lighthouse Home does in the community.

“I am so inspired by what Vanessa has done, and I think other people will be, too,” McAlvoy said. “The women Vanessa helps come to The Lighthouse and can take a deep breath. They’re not scared. They can put the focus on their recovery. It’s not just a shelter. It’s a home, as long as they need it.”

Farris and McAlvoy said the golf tournament is a first step for securing funds to support The Lighthouse — and spreading the word about what The Lighthouse Home does.

“I feel strongly that The Lighthouse deserves more community support and encourage local businesses and individuals to support it and participate in the golf tournament,” Farris said. “I’m excited to be a part of helping Vanessa and The Lighthouse offer even more women support and shelter in our community.”

Donations also are being accepted from non-golfers and sponsorship opportunities are available. All golfers will get lunch and beverages at the event. A hole-in-one prize, a car, will be offered by Joey Griffin Kia.

Lighthouse Home seeks volunteers

Lighthouse Home seeks volunteers062519_rm_lighthouse01

Shirley McAvoy, left, and Vanessa Scaife go over ways to obtain connections and secur financial help Tuesday at The Lighthouse Home in Rocky Mount.

Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

There is a lighthouse in the Twin Counties.

It’s not on the river and has nothing to do with leading boats to safety.

The Lighthouse Home, on Eastern Avenue in Rocky Mount, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offers shelter to women who are in transition and need a place to call home as they work toward the next chapter of their lives.

It provides a structured and supportive environment for women who need a fresh start while struggling to fight back against substance abuse and subsequent life events that left them without shelter. These women come from all walks of life: Young women and elders, scholars and high school dropouts, locals and even those who have traveled a great distance to start over.

Vanessa Scaife, director of The Lighthouse Home, is the light; the beacon that welcomes and offers refuge to women who have gone far too long without it and are looking for a safe port to heal and soak up strength for the battle of their lives.

“Drug addiction makes you hopeless and helpless and even after you’ve detoxed and the drugs are out of your system, it can be hard to change your thinking — to see the possibilities for your life and to forgive all the things you’ve squandered,” Scaife said. “I know those feelings. I’ve lived those feelings. And I’m here to show women that come here how to come through what they’re going through and heal. I help them feel hope again.”

The Lighthouse Home is having an open house event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday to offer the community a chance to see the home and meet some of the women who have moved on and up after staying at The Lighthouse Home.

The house can shelter up to seven women and has one temporary bed that can serve as a crisis bed for short-term purposes. The women cook for themselves, clean the home and go to therapy classes, AA meetings and job training classes.

The goal for the women is to become healthy and self-sufficient, moving out on their own when they’re ready. There is no one-size-fits-all timeline and Scaife works with each woman individually to establish goals and milestones.

Volunteer Shirley McAvoy of Rocky Mount says the board of directors and core group of volunteers for The Lighthouse Home are hoping once the community comes in and sees what Scaife and the home is about, they’ll want to help. McAvoy said the more help Scaife has from volunteers, the more time she can spend with the girls at the house.

“I wouldn’t be good helping the girls — I can’t do what Vanessa does, but I can help in other ways so Vanessa can do what she’s best at,” she said.

McAvoy assists with communications and maintaining the website,

Scaife said her biggest supporters are her church family at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rocky Mount.

“They’ve pretty much been the only constant supporter for the last 10 years. They are a big part of who we are,” she said.

Scaife opened the home to local women in need of shelter about 20 years ago. She was recovering from years of addiction, saved money to purchase her home and felt called to share her experience of recovery with others.

“I just remember looking back at my hopelessness, and thinking. ‘I could show other women how to get out of that pit,’”

So Scaife starting sharing. She shares her home and her experiences. She shares her resources and her purpose in life with some of the most forgotten and given-up-on people in the community.

Scaife and McAvoy agreed helping these women, slowly, one at a time, is the key to healing entire families — and hopefully, communities.

“A woman that has stayed here and is successful leaves and goes back out into the community as a productive, healthy person — that’s the person who reaches out and is a beacon to another person. Her life has changed because of another human being, who also was in her place before her,” Scaife said. “There is something a person who has been through the recovery process, who has been an addict, can offer someone currently addicted that no one else can do, can understand.

“Women that stay here, they pass it on. They would be able to reach out and be a light to another family, to offer hope.”

McAvoy said the home is always in need of bus tokens, linens, food and pantry supplies and toiletries.

“It’s a remarkable thing Vanessa does at this house,” McAvoy said. “The women come here and can take a deep breath. They’re not scared. They can put the focus on their recovery. It’s not just a shelter. It’s a home, as long as they need it.”

Scaife said she hopes that when people come to the open house, it will be easier to understand what she does and the role The Lighthouse Home plays in the community.

“There is a sense of forgiveness and non-judgement here. Addiction is a disease,” Scaife said. “I tell women that come to this home, ‘You are no longer the problem in society, you can make a change. Don’t be afraid.’

“It’s a slow healing, recovering from addiction. But if you have a safe place to do it, it sticks. It changes something inside of them — not just waiting out the physical part of getting off drugs, but healing, from the inside, out.”

For more information about the open house and address for The Lighthouse Home, call Scaife at 252-314-0975 or check out their website at


Area confronts growing opioid epidemic

Area confronts growing opioid epidemic


Jacquea Ritter, left, and Erin Hipp, right, speak about their substance use disorders Thursday at The Lighthouse Home, a Rocky Mount shelter for women in recovery.

Staff Writer

There is a killer in the Twin Counties claiming the lives of dozens of residents each year and threatening the lives of dozens of others each month.

This killer is not human and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race or economic standing. Statistically, its victims are more likely to be white or American Indian males between the ages of 25-54, but it strikes newborns as well as the elderly and affects people of all genders, races, creeds and backgrounds.

This killer is found in many medicine cabinets throughout the Twin Counties, for it can be a friend when properly controlled. This killer is opioid drugs known by such names as oxycodone (such as OxyContin®),  hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®), methadone and several others. It also includes heroin, which has regained its status as as drug of choice for many.

Two weeks ago, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office reported that four opioid overdoses had occurred in Nash County in a 36-hour period and one of those had resulted in a death.

Sadly, such occurrences are all too common. Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that opioids killed roughly 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Approximately 15,000 of those deaths — roughly half of all opioid-related deaths — involved a prescription opioid.

Gov. Roy Cooper has recently drawn attention to the impact of opioid misuse in North Carolina.

“Opioid addiction is devastating families across the nation,” Cooper said in a press release. “This is a uniquely challenging crisis for our communities and will require a new level of collaboration between law enforcement, treatment-providers and those in recovery.”

Data released through Cooper’s office in May indicates the impact of the opioid crisis on North Carolina. In 2015, there were more than 1,100 opioid-related deaths in the state, a 73 percent increase from 2005.

The Twin Counties has seen a greater percentage increase in opioid-related deaths during that same time period. In 2005, Edgecombe County reported three deaths compared with six deaths in 2015, a 100 percent increase. Nash County deaths have jumped 450 percent in the same period — from two reported deaths in 2005 to 11 in 2015.

“The problem is very much reflected in Nash County as it is the state and in the nation,” said William Hill, Nash County human services director.

Overdoses from opioids now occur so routinely that most first responders carry naloxone, a drug that can immediately reverse an opioid overdose that is sold under the brand name Narcan, at all times. So far this year, more than 113 emergency calls in Nash County have been coded as overdoses. However, some patients seek help without calling for aid. In 2015, 632 patients were admitted to Nash UNC Health Care emergency department with opioid or heroin overdoses.

Many health care workers are reluctant to discuss the issue for fear of being blamed for the crisis. No doctors in this area would respond to requests for an interview. One local pharmacy was willing to discuss treatments for heroin overdose, but demanded that Telegram staff members leave the building when the discussion of prescription opioids came up.

To be clear, prescription opioids are legal. They are valuable and even necessary for some patients undergoing cancer treatments or end-of-life care. They are a blessing to patients recovering from short-term pain caused by surgeries, accidents or other painful processes. Doctors primarily prescribe opioids because they care for their patients and do not want to see them suffer. They can be a valuable tool in the arsenal of modern medicine, and most patients taking them as advised for a short time under a doctor’s clear instructions have nothing to fear.

However, the CDC says that changing health care policies at the turn of the millennium had a tremendous affect on the development of the opioid health crisis, which has now reached epidemic proportions.

According to the CDC: “Prescription opioid-related overdose deaths and admissions for treatment of opioid use disorder have increased in parallel with increases in opioids prescribed in the United States, which quadrupled from 1999 to 2010  This increase was primarily because of an increase in the use of opioids to treat chronic noncancer pain.”

Experts say much of the reason for the increase is that the Veterans Health Administration lauched an initiative in 1999 known as the “Pain as the Fifth Vital Sign” initiative. This new approach called for health care providers to routinely ask patients about pain levels and made pain management a measure of physician success.

The results of this initiative and the subsequent pressure it placed on health care professionals is that opioid prescriptions have increased from from 116 million in 1999 to 207 million in 2013. In North Carolina in 2016, more than 82 precriptions for opioids were written for every 100 persons in the state. In Edgecombe County, that rate was 78.2, up dramatically from 54.7 the year before. In Nash County, the 2016 rate was well above the state average at 92.3 However, this was down from 2015 when 107.8 prescriptions were written for every 100 people.

Erin Hipp, 32, is now a resident of the The Lighthouse Home, Inc, where she is living as she strives to recover from her substance use disorder and some associated mental health issues. Hipp said she tried marijuana when she was young but developed the disorder after she was prescribed opioids.

“I had a bad back and the doctor prescribed me morphine,” Hipp said. “And I got addicted to it and ended up having to buy pills off the street. I can remember one time I dropped my kids off to day care at 9 in the morning and went home and got high and fell asleep. I woke up at 10 o’clock at night with the day care worker knocking at my door to drop the kids off. I ended up losing those kids.”

Hipp said she tried heroin, which is cheaper, but it scared her.

“I know plenty of people who died from heroin, and my sister nearly died twice from it. The heroin is really bad,” Hipp said.

Hipp said she later moved on to a combination of crack cocaine and opioids, which “messed her up really bad.” She advised others to stay away from drugs.

“It’s not worth it. Your life is more important than that high you’re gonna get. That high is gonna kill you eventually. It’s only going to lead you one of two places: jail or dead,” Hipp said.

Deaths from heroin have increased in recent days. However, a look at the overall figures for the Twin Counties reveals that prescription opioids still account for the majority of deaths. According to the N.C Department of Health and Human Services, Nash County had 69 “opioid poisoning deaths” from 1999-2015 and 60 of those were related to prescription opioids. Edgecombe County has had 42 “opioid poisoning deaths” in that same period and 36 of those were related to prescription drug use.

The scope of the problem in the Twin Counties is clear. Over the next four days, the Telegram will examine different aspects of the issue in order to educate the community on the problem and the solutions that can be found in this area.

Light House Home, Inc. regains non-profit status

Lighthouse Home regains nonprofit status

LIghthouse Home Picture.jpg

Rena Hill, left, and Lighthouse Home Director Vanessa Rorie stand inside the kitchen of the women’s shelter.

By Philip Sayblack
Staff Writer

A local women’s shelter is celebrating after recently regaining its nonprofit status.

The Lighthouse Home Inc., at 1016 Eastern Avenue, recently received notification from the Internal Revenue Service that it has regained its status as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Director Vanessa Rorie has been operating the house for the past 17 years. She said the house serves as a safe haven for women who are homeless and recovering from drug addiction or other circumstances.

Rorie said the Lighthouse Home lost its non-profit status approximately four years ago because it was not bringing in any funding. She said she started saving last summer to be able to pay the $850 fee that is included with the application for organizations wishing to be considered nonprofits, adding it took a lot of determination.

“It was extremely stressful saving the money and waiting to find out if we had regained our nonprofit status — but I’m a hustler,” Rorie said. “I worked hard and made it happen.”

She said she was overwhelmed when the IRS’ letter came declaring the house a nonprofit organization again.

“I was so happy that I was on the floor crying,” Rorie said. “The women living in the house had to pick me up off the floor. We’re all so excited. The whole community had been waiting for this.”

Rorie stressed that now that Lighthouse Home has regained its nonprofit status, she has started reaching out to businesses throughout the area. She added donations to the shelter will go primarily toward covering the cost of daily operations.

“We have to be able to feed the women, keep them warm, buy medications, etc.” Rorie said.

Though she didn’t have a fundraising goal set now that the shelter has regained its nonprofit status, Rorie said she hopes the shelter could raise at least $100,000 this year.

Six women currently live at Lighthouse Home Inc. A seventh is expected to move in soon, Rorie said.