Meet volunteer Jill!

  1. Tell me your story: What is your name? What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies? 
    • My name is Jill Robinson and I was born and raised in Columbus. I’m a licensed attorney and spent a number of years in project management. I am currently a Business Operations Consultant for a legal technology company. In my spare time, I love to spend time with my family and this spring I will be working on expanding my vegetable garden. 
  2. How would your friends and family describe you? What are your gifts, interests, and passions? 
    • My friends and family would say I am a passionate and determined leader who cares about others’ needs and stands up for people who need an advocate. I pride myself on my ability to analyze a problem and come up with creative solutions. I’m passionate about helping others achieve their goals. 
  3. How did you learn about Alvis? What is your connection to Alvis?
    • I learned about Alvis through my sister-in-law, Lori Robinson Terry. Lori works at MI and organizes volunteer efforts at MI to benefit Alvis. She introduced me to the organization and I found a place to volunteer at the Community Reentry Center. 
  4. Why did you decide to volunteer for Alvis? 
    • I wanted to spend some time volunteering with formerly incarcerated men and women who are working hard to get reintegrated into the community. With my background as a people manager, I felt that the HIRE program, which provides job readiness training for Alvis clients, was a great use of my skill set. 
  5. How long and how frequently do you volunteer for our mission? Which area of Alvis do you work with? 
    • I have been volunteering a few days a week with the HIRE program in the Community Reentry Center since November 2019. In that role, I help with resume drafting and interviewing skills. Every Thursday, I do mock interviews with the men’s class and provide them with written feedback on what they did well and what to change for their next interview. I also present to the class weekly on goal setting. 
  6. What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Alvis? What have you gained from volunteering with our community?
    • My favorite thing about volunteering with Alvis is connecting with the Alvis clients. Every person I have worked with is engaged and working hard to create a new life for themselves despite the many obstacles they are facing. I’ve been welcomed warmly by the HIRE team – Terrance, Daniel, Amy and Nikki – and encouraged to share my perspective with the class. I’ve learned so much from them and feel privileged to support their work. 
  7. How important do you believe volunteer work is in our community?
    • I consider volunteering in the community to be better described as neighbors helping neighbors. We all have a responsibility to one another. Our successes and our failures are tied to each other. Everyone has something to offer – time, skills and abilities, or resources. By sharing with each other, we become a stronger community. 
  8. Any advice for those who are contemplating the idea of volunteering? 
    • Go for it! Each of us has the ability to make a positive impact on our community or on another person’s life. Even the smallest of gestures can have a huge impact. 
  9. Do you recommend Alvis to others as a charitable organization to donate? Why?
    • Yes! Alvis helps so many people in our community. Many of the Alvis clients are starting a new chapter in their lives. Some of them are rebuilding their lives from scratch. The Alvis staff provide as much support as they can, but they cannot do it alone. Our community involvement through donations and volunteering gives Alvis clients the best chance at success. And every person deserves that. 
  10. Any favorite quote? 
    • “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
  11. Any message you would like to send to our clients?
    • You have an opportunity in this moment to create the life you want to live. Whatever goals you have for yourself, you can achieve. You have so much to offer! You have skills. You are talented. And I believe in you. 

Thank you so much Jill! We appreciate you and love having you with us!

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.

Reconciliation Day 4.2.2020

As we celebrate #ReconciliationDay today, we share a little behind-the-scene (BTS) raw footage video with one of our clients playing his guitar for us. I particularly remember our interview and how he realized the power and need for reconciliation. Watch it here: https://buff.ly/2JAmt3O

During current social distancing times many of our clients can’t visit with their loved ones. The hardship of our current reality multiplies when we deal with some of the most vulnerable people out there. This is hard on their kids who, again, are separated from their parents. Its also very hard on our adult clients who are battling addiction.

We have new unexpected expenses that came with this pandemic. If you can, please consider a cash donation to Alvis today!

We believe in reconciliation and second chances. We are united, one community, better together.

Another wonderful way to get involved and support our mission is to send inspirational messages! Record or write an inspirational note for our clients who need to stay motivated and on track for recovery. You can also send thank you notes for our staff who continue to take care of our clients’ needs 24/7. They all could use some extra love. Feel free to share your positivity here or send your video and/or email messages to: social.media@alvis180.org

Here is a great quote on this matter: “We are all one, and it’s our job, our duty, and our great challenge to fight the voices of division and seek reconciliation”.

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.

Be an Inspiration

Dr. Acton grew up in a broken and abusive family, living in many places across the country as a child with her brother and single mother. At one point she lived in a tent outside of Youngstown. “Homelessness is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart,” she said on the day Governor DeWine appointed her to be the director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Why are we sharing these facts?

Let me tell you a story.

Most of all of us, the People of Alvis, those who work or donate to Alvis, we have mission driven hearts. Many of us have a connection to someone who has suffered from addiction, some have past justice involvement, others have a connection to someone with a developmental disability and/or understand mental health challenges, and some have experienced the ramifications of growing up in a broken and abusive family.

Alvis is working to give children of parents with challenges like justice involvement & addiction the services and support they need so they can grow up and be safe, stay healthy and inspire others like Dr. Amy Acton.

Social Distancing has added even more anxiety to the lives of the families & children we serve. And the COVID-19 pandemic caused Evening of Light (EOL) our main fundraiser that supports our family programs to be cancelled for the year.

We are here asking for your support. Can you help? Please consider a donation to support these families in need. Donate now!

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.

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.

American Heart Month

As American Heart Month of February comes to an end, we want to share some of what we know and see every day inside and out Alvis. 

American Heart Month was established in 1963 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and first celebrated in February 1964. President Johnson felt strongly about heart disease and believed that United States citizens needed to,  “Give heed to the nationwide problem of the heart and blood-vessel diseases, and to support the programs required to bring about its solution.” Dedicating a month to being aware of cardiovascular diseases provides us all with the opportunity to learn and practice healthier ways caring for ourselves. For more information on American Heart Month, visit this site

Our hearts need just as much, if not more, attention now compared to the time the American Heart Month was established. Roughly every one in four deaths across the U.S. were caused by heart disease in 2015. Across the nation, every 40 seconds, a person has a heart attack. Each minute, someone loses their life as a result of a heart disease-related event. These are staggering statistics and hopefully, raising awareness about the risk factors that cause heart disease can help prevent it in the future. Risk factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet and physical inactivity. Some indicators of heart disease include high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol.

What can we do? While we can’t change genetic factors that contribute to heart disease, we do have the power to fight heart disease by changing our habits.  We can turn our lives around and reduce our risk by eating a lower fat diet, committing to getting some exercise every day, quitting smoking, etc. 

Alvis is well-acquainted with turning lives around.  An individual in Alvis’ Recovery Choices program learns to treat their addiction by changing the way they think and changing their behavior. In this way, Alvis provides individuals with the tools they need to be successful in a new beginning. 

Taking better care of our bodies and making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle is good for all of us, whether we are working to overcome addiction or working to lower the risk of heart disease. Interested in learning more? We suggest a visit to www.cdc.gov  

American Heart Month, along with a Valentine’s Day celebration, inspired a motivated team of Alvis staff and clients to hold a special Door Decorating Contest in one of our residential reentry centers. Using a heart theme, participants made beautiful door decorations that reflected the stories of their lives with love and pride. You can see how caring and special it was to have such a fun event. Thank you to Deborah Finnegan, Katelyn McKinley, Lisabeth Shepard, Rebecca Neubig and all participants for making this such a nice event!

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 believe a person’s potential is more important 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.