PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE: 01/11/19
A Parkersburg woman is at it again. Last month, WTAP interviewed her about the shirts and sweatshirts she created for mothers and grandparents impacted by the drug epidemic. Now she is taking her activism to another level.
"Many of us stay in silence because we're scared. The world is cruel and when you're a mother you want to protect your children but it's time to stand and say we realize this is a problem and we got to tackle it," Nikeeia Martin said.
Over the past summer, she created a shirt that read "Mothers Fighting Against Addiction" on it. After she shared what she created, she got requests for shirts all over the country. As she continues to sell the shirts, she's now looking to create a support group.
"It's for mothers fighting against addiction and I'll actually be incorporating the grandparents also because there are so many grandparents that are raising their grand babies because of the drug epidemic," she said.
The idea popped up after she stopped by Thrive Worship Center in Vienna for a "Celebrate Recovery" meeting and spoke with the center's pastor, Bill Frey.
"I met Nikeeia and I really love her vision," Frey said.
"And the pastor was really happy that he saw that I was a mom by myself standing up," Martin said.
The meetings will be held at Thrive Worship Center, which is located at the former Cornerstone Gospel Church on 17th Avenue in Vienna.
Martin said anyone who has dealt with the epidemic like she has is welcome to show up.
"Ultimately we would like to see people walking around Parkersburg and Marietta and Belpre and Vienna smiling living a life where they are thriving," Frey said.
"It's important that we stand our ground and I finally did and it took me a lot of years but I finally stood up and when I started speaking out, I had a lot of parents, mothers, and grandparents reaching out to me saying that's my life, so that's why we're here," Martin said.
The first meeting is set for January 21 at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are slated for Monday nights.
ORIGINAL STORY: 12/12/18
Last summer, a Parkersburg woman had an idea for tackling the opioid epidemic. She says now it's garnered support all over the country.
The drug crisis hits home for Nikeeia Martin. Her son, Austin Vannoy, abused Xanax and Klonopin.
"She's seen me hooked up to IVs, barely clinging to life, she's seen me in jail, she's seen me in multiple rehabs," Vannoy said.
"He lost everything in 3 weeks due to the Xanax and overdose after overdose, jail after jai, home confinement agents beating on my door, it's just been a really rough ride," Martin said.
Vannoy's struggles pushed Martin to act. She decided to design and create a shirt. The shirt featured the words, "Mothers Fighting Against Addiction." Once she shared what she did, it took off. She's sold dozens of shirts all over the country and even Canada.
"I see the sparkle in her eye every time she gets a shirt order every time she gets her shirts in she's so excited," Vannoy said.
Martin currently has pink "Mothers Fighting Against Addiction" t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies. She also has "Grandparents Fighting Against Addiction" t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies.
Martin says they're all made locally by Vienna resident Mike Wilson.
As the requests for shirts keep coming in, Martin's message is spreading to more people.
"If the mothers can unite together and we figure out what to watch out for, what to do to help others in this epidemic," she said.
Some of the proceeds raised go to the American Addiction Foundation.
To purchase the shirts, you can leave a message on her Facebook page. It can be found in the Related Links section of the article.