Amethyst Graduation

Celebrating

On February 3rd, we celebrated the graduation of 18 women who completed all 5 levels of Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program. Amethyst has provided treatment services to women and children who need specialized services and a community of support for over 30 years.

A noteworthy fact: this is the largest graduating class that has ever graduated from the Amethyst program!

Linda Janes, Alvis’ Chief Program Officer, welcomed audience members, which consisted of current clients at Amethyst, alumni, and family and friends. The celebration was hosted by State Auto Insurance, who also hosts our annual holiday parties for clients, and generously donated a computer lab for Amethyst. Janes acknowledged Zonta Club of Columbus, a service and advocacy organization whose mission is to empower women. They contribute to Amethyst clients year-long. Studio Fovero Salon and Spa was also recognized for donating hair styling services to graduates.

A special guest in attendance was Judge Paul Herbert, who founded and administers the CATCH Court program in Franklin County. CATCH Court focuses on rehabilitation and reentry services for women trafficking survivors. Three clients graduating from Amethyst are also successful graduates of CATCH Court, and another graduate is a current participant in the program.

When Herbert founded CATCH Court, Amethyst became his first partner. Leaders at Amethyst, like founding mother, Ginny O’Keeffe, helped him understand the significance of clients’ experiences. “This [CATCH Court] is the best thing that happened to me in my career… and maybe, my whole life,” Herbert reflected. “I love each and every one of you, because you’re great.”

“Today is so important, and I want you to really think about how far you’ve come,” echoed Denise M. Robinson, President & CEO of Alvis. “You are different today because you have addressed the demons and the trauma that kept you in the prison of addiction.”

Graduates ranged from ages 28 to 53. Their accomplishments included newfound employment and promotions, regained custody and relationships with their children, exploration of cultural roots, and renewed independence and empowerment. They also overcame a host of challenges, such as intergenerational trauma, homelessness, illnesses, and injuries. Two women even gave birth while in the program.

Following Robinson’s speech was Tori Buck, a Primary Care Counselor at Amethyst who works with the women on a daily capacity. She stressed the importance of support to recovery: “They have all worked so hard to get to this stage. Their journeys came with triumphs, heartbreak, perseverance, and extremely hard work and we could not be more proud of them.” Graduates provided 3 roses to audience members who had guided and loved them throughout their journey. As staff members introduced graduates, it was clear that they had grown on these journeys alongside their clients.

Sharing Stories

Many women overcame personal battles on their journeys with Amethyst. One client, Carla, celebrated her triumph over addiction. From this date, she’s been nearly 2 years and a month clean. “One thing I learned throughout this program was gratitude that I never had before. I never had an appreciation for my life or anything else,” she reflected. “I spent most of my life homeless, but now me and my 5 year old daughter have a home of our own.”

Other clients emphasized the significance of Alvis’ Amethyst staff and community. LaRose, 28, is the youngest graduate in her class. A CATCH Court graduate, she has secured full-time employment and independent housing, rebuilt a relationship with her step-son, and received visitation rights. Her sister, Hollie, a former Amethyst graduate herself, was the one who encouraged LaRose to attend Amethyst and receive help. Hollie runs a non-profit called The Shining Starz, which helps women caught in the throes of addiction, homelessness, and sex trafficking. “CATCH Court saved my life,” she expressed, “and Amethyst showed me how to live life.”

When client, Christine, was recovering at Amethyst, her own son died of an overdose. Additionally, she landed in the hospital for COPD-related concerns. Despite what some would consider to be insurmountable odds, she relied on her community at Amethyst, and her own power, to get her through these experiences. “If it weren’t for Amethyst, I would not be here,” she said. “I was clean in here when my son died. And the first thing I said was, ‘I’ll never go out and use.’” And Christine hasn’t. She’s been sober for 3 years and 9 months, and she recently regained custody of her grandson. “I have a 5-year old grandson who needs me in his life and will never see me take a drink, or use a drug.”

Delisa, a two-time attendee at Amethyst, left the first time to do it “her own way,” focusing less on personal recovery, and more toward fulfilling her court mandate. When that didn’t work, her father helped her move back into Amethyst, and he unfortunately passed away in November. Like Christine, she did not let this tragedy define her ability to recover, resisting the urge to relapse. “I’m glad that Amethyst gave me the foundation to be a healthy adult and be a healthy mom, so that my family could interact as one,” she said. Specifically to the staff in the room, she expressed her gratitude. “Each one of you has touched me. I can really say I have a special connection with everybody.”

Alicia is another client who struggled with the initial addiction battle. “I did not think of myself as an addict. I did not understand what addiction was.” This battle was not without its ups and downs. For Alicia, this meant multiple attempts at getting clean before she could stand before the audience at graduation with the peace and confidence she had attained from her time at Amethyst. She connected her support at Amethyst to her own self-confidence. “I’m so grateful that a staff member told me to shine today. Because I deserve this. My fiancé told me I deserve this. My brother, my sister, they’re here with me today. I am present in my family’s life today. And it’s because of Amethyst, so thank God I made it to Amethyst.”

Self-love and empowerment were present in all of the graduates’ stories, from their words, to their overall demeanor. The emotion in the room was palpable as women shared their own individual experiences, which made real both the immense challenges that addiction and trauma can bring, as well as the shreds of hope that recovery provides.

A Community of Support

Our President and CEO, Denise M. Robinson, visibly moved and proud, summed up the significance of the Amethyst graduation as she concluded her speech. “Because of the Amethyst program, our graduates and current clients have never been alone on the road to recovery, and you never will be. You can carry the positivity and support of this community of recovery with you wherever you go. For the graduates, keep us nearby, in case you need to shout down the voice of addiction when it tries to tempt you into returning to old habits. Know that you will always have a personal cheering section with you as you continue your lifelong journey to reach your highest potential.”

Congratulations to our 2020 graduates of the Amethyst program!

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

EDGE's Inaugural Kickoff

Alvis’ President and CEO, Denise M. Robinson and Columbus City Mayor, Andy Ginther

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. And being with you. And to let you know that your mayor, your city, your county, your entire community is on your side. And that we’re counting on you.”

At the EDGE Program Kickoff on January 16th, Columbus’ Mayor Andy Ginther began his speech with this moving statement, which included the program’s inaugural participants. Ginther’s speech, above all else, defined his own belief in redemption for all human beings, and called upon everyone listening to believe in the power of redemption, too.

Dr. Terrance Hinton, Program Manager of Reentry Services at Alvis, oversees both EDGE and the H.I.R.E. program. The EDGE (Empower Development by Gaining Employment) Program, a five-month program assisting justice-involved individuals in overcoming barriers to employment, is a partnership between Alvis, the City of Columbus, and the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio (WBDCO).

“Reentry has always been a part of me, because I value second chances,” says Hinton. “I believe everyone should be given a second opportunity to become successful and become productive members of society. I always tell clients that I am not as concerned about their past as I am about their future…. but they must be given the tools and support necessary for becoming successful. I truly believe that clients can turn their lives around 180 degrees and that is what gets me out of bed every morning and excited to come to the Reentry Center.”

A typical day for Hinton includes overseeing day-to-day operations of both programs, coordinating transportation, maintaining client schedules, developing the curriculum, and communicating with case managers, probation officers, and other community partners. At EDGE, clients go through a host of workforce development activities, such as resume development, skills training, and interviewing. EDGE also employs the CBI-Employment Curriculum that is based out of the University of Cincinnati.

Clients must be classified as either Moderate or High-Risk according to the Ohio Risk Assessment System in order to gain entry into EDGE. They are referred through community or case manager supervision. After an initial intake determining eligibility, clients deemed eligible then interview and endure several additional stages before acceptance into the program.

As the kickoff commenced, the room was abuzz with hope and new beginnings. Community leaders from various organizations (listed at the end of this post) circled around side-by-side with EDGE Program participants. Alvis’ CEO and President, Denise M. Robinson, welcomed participants, and acknowledged Mayor Ginther and Lisa Patt-McDaniel, CEO and President of WDBCO.

EDGE is an amended furtherance of Restoration Academy, which began under former Mayor of Columbus, Michael Coleman. This program continues to honor Coleman’s legacy, whilst allowing Ginther to revitalize the program, so it prospers in a way that best serves Columbus’ current challenges and barriers facing justice-involved individuals.

Acknowledging the diligence and tireless efforts of staff to put EDGE together, Robinson emphasized the importance of family to Alvis’ mission: “We still feel like family…that’s one of the things I always stress…we have to be like family. For those of you who are going to take place in the first cohort, you’re going to be our family now.”

Despite her welcoming words, Robinson was still realistic and upfront about the challenges that participants would face. “It’s going to be hard work. And that’s okay. You never appreciate things unless it is hard, so I really want to thank you all for being a part of this cohort.” EDGE has already begun recruiting for its second cohort.

Dr. Patrice Palmer, the doctor working with EDGE’s female client population, understands firsthand the enormity of an opportunity like EDGE, as well as the challenges that participants are likely to face. She herself comes from a history of 20 years in incarceration. Now, she’s made a #180DegreeImpact on her own life, with 18 years of sobriety, 18 years of no criminal activity, 4 college degrees, 3 state licensures, and a full governor’s pardon in the State of Ohio. “If we can restore the value and dignity and worth of a person, we return a more productive citizen back in society,” she emphasized.

“When I look around the room, I see so many people I have a relationship with,” announced Dr. Lewis Dodley, who serves male EDGE participants. He continued to articulate the importance of interacting and sharing experiences with younger people in our communities on a daily basis.

Both Palmer and Dodley meet with clients 2 days a week in empowerment sessions at the Reentry Center.

Asking participants to speak into existence their own power, Palmer flooded the room with inspiration. Phrases like “We will change,” “Second chance,” “I’m worthy,” and “Anything’s possible” were voiced by participants and echoed by Palmer. This theme of empowerment and personal agency is a hallmark of EDGE.

As the EDGE Program is a reentry program, clients are exposed to an extensive curriculum of career-readiness training. EDGE focuses both on personal and professional reentry and growth throughout its cycle.

“Currently our cohort is enrolled in the Career Bootcamp sponsored by Goodwill,” mentions Hinton. “The Boot Camp is a course focused on professional and personal development in which individuals work towards gaining employment through career exploration and workplace skills development. Each participant finishes the course with a completed resume, participates in mock interviews, completes activities utilizing G-Suite including solo and group multimedia presentations, develops personal and career goals, and participates in activities covering personal development, leadership, teamwork, and emotional intelligence.”

Toward the end of Palmer’s speech, she touched on one inherent advantage of the EDGE Program: togetherness. With the broad-reaching support from so many Ohio agencies, participants with EDGE are able to turn around their lives with the built-in community of not

only Alvis, but the entire city as a whole. “I am chosen for change, just like each of you,” Palmer encouraged participants. “One person cannot do it. One agency cannot do it. One government cannot do it. One probational court system cannot do it, because they’re too small. But together, we have the power.”

Hinton strongly believes in the power that individuals have to change their own lives for the better. He’s been working with clients for 2 years at Alvis. “Working in reentry has shaped me because I have been fortunate enough to see many of my former clients make that 180-degree change,” he explains. “I frequently see clients out in the community, and I am always happy to see them working, getting promotions, securing housing, and even going back to school. I recently ran into a former client who is not only working but got reunited with his child and just received his first promotion! It is just a small example of what I see every day at the Reentry Center. I am excited to be a part of the EDGE program and I look forward to seeing our first cohort graduation in a few months!”

EDGE shows promise to give individuals a viable second chance at hope, redemption, and success, so they may access their fullest potential.

Organizations and groups in attendance at the EDGE kickoff included: the City of Columbus, Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio, Columbus Women’s Commission, Primary One Health, Franklin County Reentry Advisory Board, IMPACT Community Action, Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility, Goodwill Columbus, EDGE program representatives, Franklin County Municipal Court, OhioMeansJobs Columbus-Franklin County, and representatives from Alvis’ programs.

EDGE Program Inaugural Kickoff Event at Alvis

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System

We’d like to believe prisons are for criminals, mental health facilities are for people with mental illnesses, and the two never meet. Yet the reality is more complicated; our criminal justice system is overwhelmed by people with mental health issues.

Here’s how it works: When most people see a person acting erratically, they call 911. This means that people having a mental health crisis are more likely to be met by police than medical professionals.

Woman hugging her knees in prison cell

Part of being a police officer is de-escalating situations. But police officers are not always adequately trained to do that when dealing with people who are mentally ill. They’re cops, not counselors, after all. So, two million such people are then booked into jails each year, where most don’t receive treatment.

A person living at home with a bipolar disorder doesn’t need permission to take medications that have been legally prescribed for them. Jail inmates, however, may have to go days without essential medication while they wait for a psychiatric evaluation. From jail, many of these people go into courtrooms—when what they need instead are medications, counseling, and mental health services.

If they’re convicted, prison isn’t kind either. Mentally ill inmates tend to stay longer in prison, in part because they sometimes can’t understand the rules. Unfortunately, releasing them doesn’t always help; many become homeless, pop up in emergency rooms, or get arrested again because they don’t have long-term support.

There are ways to better serve people with mental health issues at all levels of the criminal justice system. It starts with informed policing.

Keep on read here for the full article from its original source. “Thank you Ethan Waddell for making this information available to all”.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week

National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week Alvis Blog

This week is National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week.

To observe this week, we want to share some facts:

Every year, 100,000 babies are born addicted to cocaine due to their mother’s use during pregnancy.

90% of Americans with substance abuse problems started smoking, drinking or using drugs before they were 18 years old.

Around 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes.

Alcohol abuse is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 

These facts should startle you. These statistics wouldn’t be acquired without real people falling prey to addiction and alcoholism. It can happen to anyone.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Hotline: 1-800-662-4357

Our Amethyst program: https://bit.ly/2O12A7R

Take the National Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge: https://bit.ly/32DV4Fn

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day Alvis blog

Happy International Human Rights Day! Today, December 10th, we recognize the unalienable universal rights endowed to humans of all cultural backgrounds. Not only are we called upon to stand up for our own rights, but to defend the rights of others, too.

A key component from Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that “All human beings are born free & equal in dignity and rights.” According to the United Nations, human rights apply to “race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States, headed the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A video displaying the women who led the drafting committee and their contributions to this day can found here.

Alvis believes that each person’s potential is more important than their past. Likewise, we believe that everyone has the right to live their lives to the fullest. These beliefs directly pertain to human rights. Human rights are created so that all have access to the same potential and vast possibilities.

The stigmas that follow individuals with justice involvement, behavioral healthcare needs, and developmental disabilities can severely limit the way that societies view a person’s potential. Rights do not end when someone has made a mistake in the past, and if they are physically or mentally struggling. Alvis is committed to upholding human rights for our clients, and is proud to work with organizations that join our vision of ensuring all human rights, and proper treatment, for everyone in our communities.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day / Dec 5 PENDING IMAGE AND BACKLINKS PT

Today is International Volunteer Day! Mandated by the UN General Assembly, according to their website, this day fosters the chance for volunteers and organizations to promote their work for communities, NGOs, United Nations agencies, government authorities, and the private sector. It also advocates and encourages volunteerism throughout the world.

The theme of last year’s IVD was “Volunteers Build Resilient Communities.” This focus on communities, which is also apparent in the general mission of IVD, is what Alvis is all about. We strive to create safe, compassionate communities that believe in a person’s potential more than their past. Likewise, we believe in the power of clients to overcome their own obstacles, which is very challenging to do without support.

Alvis treasures its volunteers, who give time, funds, and care toward making an impact in the state of Ohio. Without our volunteers, we would not be able to touch our ever-expanding client populations. We have community volunteers, who directly interact with clients, providing kind, thoughtful interactions, and sometimes, even physical gifts, like the bags that were donated for our Mother’s Day celebration. Additionally, we have employees who go above-and-beyond their stipulated job responsibilities in order to further the positive impact that Alvis makes for its clients, from offering crafting classes, to tutoring clients for the GED Test. Many of our volunteer opportunities that are not directly at locations revolve around our special events. This might mean simply attending events and lending a helping hand, or it might mean providing food, transportation, or activities for clients to these functions.

Other service organizations, such as Columbus Gives Back, The Kiwanis Club of Columbus, and the Ronald McDonald House, seek to better the local community, and organizations like the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County provide opportunities for groups in central Ohio to come together in order to address community issues on a larger scale.

Here at Alvis, we’ve been involved in community outreach with various organizations across Columbus (including some of the above mentioned nonprofits!). Click on this post [INSERT COMMUNITY OUTREACH HYPERLINK] to see what kinds of outreach our interns performed across Columbus…and learn about how you can make a #180DegreeImpact on your community with Alvis here!

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

International Day of People with Disabilities

Today is International Day of People with Disabilities!

Established in 1992 by the United Nations, the International Day of People with Disabilities aims to advocate for the rights and well-being of those living with any and all disabilities. Specifically, the UN wishes to promote the rights of disabled persons in every social, political, economic and cultural sphere.

This year, the International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD) has chosen the theme of leadership, including taking action in the 2030 Development Agenda. The UN wishes to empower persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges to be entirely inclusive and recognize disabilities as cross-cutting issues. The UN’s efforts to make their organization an inclusive place should be a testament to how all international organization should strive for accessibility and equality.

In line with the United Nation’s efforts to be fully inclusive, we here at Alvis believe the world should be more inclusive to the disabled workforce. All of these possible employees have the potential to add a unique perspective to your workforce with their individual talents. We appreciate and value the talent and hardwork our DD employees add to our workforce!

Each client that enters our DD sector will be given an Individual Program Plan (IPP) to assess each client’s individual developmental goals and needs. Throughout a client’s time at Alvis, data is constantly recorded and retrieved in order to adapt the IPP. Residential care is possible through Wittwer hall, where adult males can receive crisis counseling, medical monitoring, vocational training, EQUIP and many more services.

 Developmental Disability clients can also partake in our behavioral intervention programs, which aim to help those with addiction. Clients can also learn more about job readiness, obtaining work and the work environemnt. Alvis aims to make clients employable by the end of their time in the program. If clients feel they still need additional help after completion, they can opt for supported living. This way, clients can live independently with assistance from staff

To read more on the UN’s inclusion efforts → https://bit.ly/37BXcBm

Take the quiz about our DD program here → https://bit.ly/2KU0u9d

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.