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Family grieves overdose death by creating outreach ministry

Daniel Patrick Williamson died in 2019.
Daniel Patrick Williamson died in 2019.(Buddy Forbes)
Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 9:38 PM EDT
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BELFRY, Ky. (WYMT) - Daniel Patrick Williamson died one month before his 23rd birthday, leaving his family with nothing but memories.

“He was probably one of the most caring, loving, down to earth people you’ll ever know,” said Daniel’s father Paul Williamson.

Daniel struggled with addiction from an early age, seeking treatment in several different locations over the years as his family tried to understand and help him overcome.

“He wanted to be the center of attention. He liked to make people laugh and the ‘in crowd’ kind of deal. And I think that kind of took him down a road of no return,” said Paul. “Seeing the battle that my son went through and brings a whole new love for these people.”

He said he watched Daniel fight his “demons” for years and when he lost him, his world stopped turning.

But, he channeled the grief into a passion: giving back. He vowed to find a way to help others fight the darkness. He started a ministry, asking people in the community to contribute to a Christmas program for neighbors in recovery.

That project received an unexpected response, which lead to a yard sale mission and partnerships with local churches to help host meetings for those battling addiction.

So, Outreach for Addiction Ministry was born. The mission grew, finding a home at a thrift store in Belfry, where proceeds from donated items raise money for the mission. Those funds then go toward helping people in recovery get back on their feet.

“My biggest regret is, I wish I had that desire to help when he was in his addiction. I had a desire to help my child and I tried by best to,” he said. “You know, just to be honest, I kind of shunned away from (others in addiction). You get the thought that maybe they don’t want any better for their selves. But after it hit that close to home, then I realized that, you know, I could see the true struggle

Though his desire to help those in addiction was not always a leading factor, he said God led him into the ministry before he even burried his son.

“The Lord has taken me out of my comfort zone. I could have just set back and easily just moped and groaned and been sad all my life about my son. But, what I try to do is I channel my grief into helping others,” he said. “The night my child died, Satan was trying to destroy me then. I even contemplated taking my own life.”

And, according to Paul, the vision is much bigger than just the store, with plans to open a local facility to help in the ministry.

“We hope to have our own sober home,” he said. “And once God delivers that to us- I’m not sure how yet. But, you know, just a few weeks ago, I didn’t know how we were gonna have a thrift store either. But here we are today.”

He said he hopes to help people battle the darkness in his son’s memory, giving them a family and a place to find faith in something bigger than themselves and seek recovery in a place they can call home while also working in the thrift store.

“What I can’t do for my son anymore, I want to try to do for others,” he said.

The thrift store is open to donations- monetary and thrift store items- during its normal business hours. The Belfry store is open Tuesday through Saturday but now our hours are from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. with extended hours Thursdays until 6 p.m. Williamson said he also encourages any prayers to help keep the entire ministry in God’s will.

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