Superhero Fire: ‘We serve something greater’

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Cullman EMS Director James Curtis, Rescue 1 Global Founder Lacy Tolar and Karen Cook of Cook Ministries pose for a photo Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at the Superhero Fire event. (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Superhero Fire, an event organized by Karen Cook of Cook Ministries to bring nonprofits together to support those struggling with mental health issues, took place Saturday at the Hanceville Civic Center.

Cook Ministries is a faith-based organization dedicated to restoring mental health through recovery programs focused on addiction, substance abuse, depression and suicidal ideation. With Superhero Fire, Cook wanted to expand her mission of recovery to include more organizations that cover every area in which an individual may need assistance.

The event featured 23 organizations that specialize in one of four categories: suicide prevention, human trafficking, domestic violence or addiction recovery.

Keynote speaker Lacy Tolar of Rescue 1 Global spoke about her experience working with human trafficking victims.

“Ninety percent of the girls that we deal with in our safe houses, the first thing we have to do is get them to recovery for 30 days because they can’t hear me until they get to a point where they are clean,” she said. “When I first came into the world of human trafficking, I said to myself, ‘This looks like an addiction issue.’”

Tolar spoke about the interconnectedness of each of the categories covered by the attending organizations, saying,  “Most of this (human trafficking) happens to people who are already vulnerable because of poverty, domestic violence, addition issues, abuses in their past.”

She said many human trafficking survivors will continue to compound their trauma because they will not have a place of safety available to rest and heal.

“Yes, some of it is their own bad choices. We’re all the sum of our own bad choices, but that does not have to define us or their future. What we do is we look at the victims of human trafficking and those that have made bad choices and look at them and say, ‘You are a priceless treasure, made in the image of God.’ That’s the only reason people like Karen and I can get up every morning and keep doing the things that we do, because it’s not fun and it’s not pretty,” she said. “It’s dirty and it’s uncomfortable. But we understand that we serve something greater.”

The organizations at the event, many of which are local to the area, had the chance to network and provide valuable information to. Organizations included Alabama Teen Challenge (Hayden), Alabama Suicide Prevention & Resource Coalition (ASPARC), Cullman Re-Entry Addiction Assistance (CREAA), Cook Ministries, the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force, the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, Domestic Violence Crisis Services of Marshall County, Dove Renew You/ Arise Coffee Co., Duty to Render Aid, Hope Filled Rooms (Birmingham), the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, Our Father’s House Ministries (Gadsden), Redeemed Ministries (Blountsville), Rescue 1 Global, Restoration Counseling Services, Sleep in Heavenly Peace (Hartselle), The Crossing, The Lighthouse, The Pathfinder (Huntsville), Victim Services of Cullman, Wal-Mart Heart and WellStone (Cullman).

Find out more about Cook Ministries at www.cook-ministries.com.

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