July 30: World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Modern Slavery

Slavery dates back hundreds of years and has existed in different countries and different circumstances around the world since the first civilizations. When we think of slavery today, we tend to remember and study the past, but, although it may seem surprising, slavery is still very much alive today, and in plain sight. In fact, it is currently a 150-billion-dollar industry with roughly 46 million people worldwide being trafficked to date (2019), (Freedom K9 Project). In 2018 in the US alone, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported having 10,949 cases of human trafficking that involved 23,078 individual survivors, 5,859 potential traffickers, and 1,905 trafficking businesses. Even more, they reported that 898 victims and 443 cases were in the state of Ohio, a substantial amount from around the Columbus area. Ohio as a whole is one of the states with the most cases. And because human trafficking is notoriously underreported, these numbers are likely only the tip of the iceberg, (polarisproject.org).

What is trafficking in persons?

Trafficking in persons is the illegal and dehumanizing act of recruiting, selling, trading, transporting, and harboring people by means of force, threat, coercion, abduction, deception, abuse of power, fraud, etc. for the purpose of exploitation. This includes, but is not limited to, the prostitution of others and other forced commercial sex acts, forced labor, slavery, servitude, forced begging, forced marriage, trafficking individuals as soldiers, for the removal of organs, and includes men, women and even children (un.org).

Anyone can become a victim, but it is important to note that some people are more at risk than others. United Nations sites that women make up 49% and girls 23% of all trafficked victims. Polaris Project lists factors such as migration, substance abuse, mental health disorders, involvement with the child welfare system, and being a runaway or homeless youth among high risk factors. As for who is trafficking and how, traffickers can typically be people of power and privilege such as company owners, powerful corporate executives, celebrities, or government representatives. However, it is also very common for a victim to be trafficked by someone they know and are close to like parents or other family members, friends, and intimate partners. These people are manipulative and deceiving. They’ll say what they think a victim wants to hear or play on their weaknesses, such as isolation from friends and family, often employing tactics such as physical abuse, mental abuse, and economic abuse to get what they want.

2020 Mission

This year the theme for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is first responders. These are the people working firsthand to support, protect, and seek justice for victims of trafficking such as law enforcement officers, social workers, counselors, and healthcare professionals. Because of COVID-19, the role of first responders has become even more important and even dangerous. It’s time we recognize these heroes!

Thank you, Alvis first responders, for all that you do for victims of trafficking!!

Learn What Alvis Has to Offer

CHAT

Alvis is very thankful to be able to offer a women’s program just for human trafficking survivors called CHAT. This is a unique residential reentry program that aims to provide adequate resources to human trafficking survivors so that they may overcome their traumatic experiences and re-enter into society.

Part of what CHAT provides includes: safe and sober housing, holistic treatment services including clinical treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health issues and trauma, comprehensive support services including case management, life skills instruction and vocational services, and the tools to help clients build relationships with family, partners, and children. At the CHAT House, communication is key. Staff are sure to remain transparent and on-call for clients in need and emergency situations are tackled as a team.

Additionally, it is required that these women are graduates or participants of the CATCH Court, which was established by Judge Paul Herbert. Read more about CATCH Court here. Participants in the CHAT program must also have no recent violence within the past 12 months and a willingness to participate in the 18-month program.

Amethyst + Recovery Choices

Like previously mentioned, two high risk factors for individuals vulnerable of being trafficked are unstable mental health and substance abuse disorder. To combat these, Alvis also offers two behavioral health programs called Amethyst and Recovery Choices. In the Amethyst program, women with and without children can receive treatment for addiction, mental health, and trauma while also receiving supportive housing, job readiness training and placement. What makes the Amethyst program special in particular is that it allows women to live with their children and works to reunite and strengthen families. Amethyst takes walk-ins and women seeking help can go directly to the main treatment facility located at 455 E. Mound Street. Similarly, in the Recovery Choices program, individuals with justice involvement can receive behavioral healthcare and addiction services. Clients can also receive transportation from halfway houses to Alvis reentry centers, where they can take job training courses, receive counseling and individualized treatment plans, and have the opportunity to attain their GED, take university classes, and participate in activities with their family.

Additional Reading and Resources:

6 Things to Do When Someone You Know is Trafficked

U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline and 2018 Statistics

The Blue Heart Campaign

Background on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

What Does Human Trafficking Look Like?

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience. We believe in the power of second chances and coming together as one community to affect change. With our reentry, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, workforce development, family and children services, and the community, we can make a lasting 180 impact. Learn more about Alvis and how you can get involved at www.Alvis180.org.

Little Things

Here at Alvis we know that little things can make a big difference.

The Big Give

This summer from June 10-11 the Columbus Foundation will be holding their online donation event to support local nonprofit agencies. Although the minimum donation is only $20, the past four Big Give events in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017 have made a total of $52.2 million for central Ohio nonprofits. Every little bit makes a difference for Alvis! Your donation could provide that extra meal to a family. It could provide a child with a backpack, school supplies, books, and so much more! To donate during the Big Give, June 10 at 10 a.m. ET through June 11 at 11:00 a.m. ET, click here. To learn more about the Big Give and the Columbus Foundation go to columbusfoundation.org.

Volunteering

Don’t be discouraged if you are unable to donate money! There are other ways you can get involved that are simple, easy, fun and as crucial as monetary donations. Without our generous volunteers, Alvis would simply not be able to touch our ever-expanding client populations. Do you have a particular niche or are good at something? Alvis might have a spot for you no matter what it is or how small. Alvis always looks for any volunteer who can help our clients to expand their skillsets and add to their activity options. We are always welcoming volunteers who can help with special events, fundraising or even providing help in our offices.

Here are a few things that volunteers are already doing…

Helping with resume drafting and interviewing skills in the HIRE program at the Community Reentry Center.

Practicing mock interviews and providing feedback.

Teaching how to set goals.

Providing tutoring support for women at Amethyst working towards their GED.

Tutoring math.

Teaching developmental disabilities clients piano, guitar, and bass guitar.

Teaching crafting classes with sewing, knitting, jewelry making, etc.

More things you could do…

Attend events to lend a helping hand, or provide food, transportation, or activities to clients for these functions.

Teach a class at something you are good at like baking bread or painting.  

Tutor a subject you are good in to prepare Alvis clients for GED tests.

Volunteer at Bingo Night

Be a guide for DD clients on walks.

Donate items like art supplies, photo frames or books.

Although these things might seem small, they make a big difference at Alvis. All the little things are used to turn lives around and get clients lives back on track.

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.

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.

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

Family and Children’s Holiday Cheer Program

“It just gets bigger and bigger every year,” remarks Lori Robinson, Risk Manager of M/I Homes and coordinator of the annual Holiday Cheer Program. Lori, who started this event five years ago as a partnership with Alvis’ Family and Children’s Program, insists that it’s the best thing her organization does all year round, which funds the program through donations. “Our staff gets very energized and excited. My favorite part would have to be seeing the kids’ eyes light up with their gifts.”

The Holiday Cheer Program that Robinson leads began after she met Arlene Reitter, Alvis’ Managing Director of Development and Communications. Getting to know one another at a Community Care Day at United Way seven years ago, Robinson immediately became fascinated and encouraged by the work being done at Alvis.

Thus, the Holiday Cheer Program came into being. Every fall, Alvis arrives at M/I Homes to talk with their employees about the clients who are turning their lives around daily through our Family and Children’s Program. Volunteers from M/I Homes are assigned a family’s wish list for the holiday season. Gifts include items that families would give to each other if they had the means to do so. According to Julie Jansen, Program Manager at Alvis, the lists entail “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.” Gifts this year ranged from cozy blankets, to board games, scooters, books, clothes, microwaves, shampoos, and soaps.

Alvis’ Family and Children’s Program serves children and their mothers, with the end goal of bringing families together. Every first and third Saturday, caregiving clients come together for a healthy meal, while spending time with their families. Usually, this involves participating in fun activities and games, and taking lots of pictures. Other special celebrations from this past year that were coordinated with the Family and Children’s Program include Mother’s Day, Easter, the Summer Reading Program, and Thanksgiving.

“The holidays are just a special time,” highlights Priscilla Tyson, Senior Director of the Family and Children’s Program. “They provide a chance for families to reflect on how blessed they are.” In addition to these bi-weekly Saturday lunches, Tyson outlines the other components of the Family and Children’s Program: a parenting component that involves parenting classes and workshops, and a clinical component for parents and caregivers. Additional community support services are offered for all clients to complement their treatment plans; these services are also extended to foster guardians caring for children of mothers undergoing treatment. An Aftercare phase allows mothers the opportunity to continue receiving services for up to 2 years after finishing their treatment through the program.

Saturday’s festive event began with an introduction from Jansen, who took a moment to recognize three recent graduates of the program. They were awarded certificates and commended for their accomplishments in classes, weekly meetings with case managers, and parenting education.

Missy and Ryan

One graduate, Heather, encouraged other women in the room to persevere. “Keep pushing forward, learn everything you can,” she said. “This is a great program—you can learn a lot from it.” Heather’s cousin, Missy, is also currently enrolled in the Family and Children’s Program. “She’s doing well,” Heather said. “She’s getting ready to get her child back, and they’ve had time to bond and get together. These events are the best part.” Missy also attended the celebration with her son, Ryan. Another mom, Amber, returned with her child for this holiday event after completely finishing the Family and Children’s Program. In general, it’s not a rare occurrence for former graduates to return to these special celebrations—this program creates a lifelong community. Terri, another graduate, expressed how vital her family was to her treatment. “I love you guys,” she said, gesturing to them. “Thanks for giving me another chance. This program really worked. This is the right program to be in.” After graduates were recognized, families were treated to a catered holiday meal from Events by Linzy, and Santa’s Helpers (volunteers from M/I Homes) passed out gift bags, candy canes, and took pictures of families with Santa. There were also tables for cookie decorating and holiday mug creations; and a photoshoot with a green screen backdrop, created winter-wonderland themed portraits. Families had lots of fun together!

Marsha, a volunteer who has worked with the Family and Children’s Program since its inception, finds that this event, and the program overall, has led to immense change in clients, who have faced a number of challenges throughout their lives. She is particularly inspired by their resilience, as they strive to make a #180DegreeImpact to help themselves and their families. “They’ve really helped me, too, seeing how they persevere.” With a background in special education, Marsha is comfortable meeting with children at these events and giving them advice, or simply talking to them. She also loves to encourage people to smile. “It’s contagious!” she says.

Ashley, another volunteer attending her third Holiday event with the Family and Children’s Program, also works for Alvis as a Case Manager. “One of my favorite parts about Alvis is reconnecting families and their kids,” she says. “This is the incentive that they need—the ability to reconnect in a safe space.”

Connecting, sharing, and building a community are cornerstones of the Family and Children’s Program at Alvis. We’re so thankful for the donations and volunteers from M/I Homes for making all of this possible and brightening our clients’ and their families’ lives with a lot of holiday cheer!

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.

Giving Tuesday Campaign Ambassador Kit

What is the best way to reach your friends? Email? Social Media? Messenger? Text? Whatever it is, we got you covered. We are #BetterTogether. Thank you for your support! Here we go…

Email Template:

Dear Friends,

We have two days for getting deals: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On #GivingTuesday, we have a day for giving back to our community. Giving is the reason for the season, after all. Kick off the beginning of giving season with #GivingTuesday on December 3rd.

This year, I am supporting Alvis for #GivingTuesday. This organization helps to make #180degreeimpact in our community. They provide services in residential reentry, developmental disabilities supported living, workforce development, mental health & addictions treatment, and family support.

Can you help our clients #RewriteTheStory and turn lives around? Here is how you can help:

1. To donate online click here: https://alvis.kindful.com/?campaign=1045825
or text TUESDAY to 614-881-2733

2. Forward this email to your contact list

3. Share Alvis’ social media posts and use the hashtags: #RewriteTheStory along with #180degreeimpact

Social Media Post Option 1:

#GivingTuesday is just around the corner! Join me on December 3rd as I support Alvis and help people in our community. This holiday season, more than ever, we need to give our community the gift of rewriting their stories. To learn more about this award-winner non-profit, follow @180degreeimpact

Donate online at https://alvis.kindful.com/?campaign=1045825 or text TUESDAY to 614-881-2733

#GivingTuesday #RewriteTheStory #180degreeimpact

Social Media Post Option 2:

Mark your calendars! #GivingTuesday is December 3rd! Join the movement and support Alvis as they help to improve the holiday season for those recovering for addiction, handling a disability or reentering into our community. Donate online at https://alvis.kindful.com/?campaign=1045825 or text TUESDAY to 614-881-2733

Social Media Post Option 3:

The holiday season is a difficult time for those struggling to maintain their economic independence. Alvis helps those who are recovering from addiction to obtain their own economic independence and stability. Help those who need it most this holiday season by donating to Alvis this #GivingTuesday

Help those in need rewrite their story! Donate online at https://alvis.kindful.com/?campaign=1045825 or text TUESDAY to 614-881-2733

Social Media Post Option 4:

I donated to Alvis for #GivingTuesday. My donation to Alvis helps fund their mental health & addictions treatments, and family support services. We are #BetterTogether

Help those in need rewrite their story! Donate online at https://alvis.kindful.com/?campaign=1045825 or text TUESDAY to 614-881-2733

Rewrite The Story, an Alvis Giving Tuesday Campaign

Rewrite the story an alvis giving tuesday campaign

Most Americans know someone who lost a loved one from addiction. In 2017 alone, 19.7 million American adults battled a substance use disorder (via Americanaddictioncenters.org). Addiction not only consumes and affects those that are addicted; it affects all loved ones of that individual. People see how addiction affects those around them and want to know how to help. Prompted by #GivingTuesday, one could even decide to donate in order to contribute to the halt of this epidemic. It is one thing to for people to open their wallets for a single day of change, then to view themselves as tools of lasting solutions for community change. On December 3rd, we at Alvis encourage you to not only donate, but to understand what it means to give back to those who suffer from addiction and its consequences.

Giving Tuesday allows 7,000 change-making partners to join together for a national day of giving. People are encouraged to donate money, but are also encouraged to donate time, talent, knowledge, education and resources. Short- term charity is a one-time event; when you give all of yourself to your community, you become an integral part of the community solutions.

We at Alvis make a 180 degree impact. We help those struggling with addiction recovery, developmental disabilities, or reentering their communities after incarceration. Our endeavors require enormous amounts of funding, in terms of money and also man power. Donations get the bread on the table, but volunteering passes it out. Both turn our gears, and both are essential to our mission.

When we bring together all of our collective donations, we can accomplish anything that needs doing. We have seen our successes in Brittany, who beat addiction and is getting her children back from the foster system. Another success story at Alvis is seen in William, a developmentally disabled man who made mistakes, but evolves everyday into a new man by working through Alvis. 

Success stories such as these prove that the best is definitely yet to come. We here at Alvis believe in those who push for change in themselves and their communities. And that’s why we advocate for you to donate not only your money, but your time. Your passion. Your advocacy.

Live everyday feeling as though you’re a part of a message larger than any of us. Be a part of the revolution of what it means to truly give back. Help those in need rewrite their stories.

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 Parental Involvement Day

Happy National Parental Involvement Day! Today provides opportunities for parents to evaluate their personal relationships with their children, so they can make an extra push to get more involved in certain aspects of their child’s life. 

Parents have a huge impact on their child’s academic and overall success. This success is further articulated in an October blog for National School Success Month. You can find that here!

This day fosters discussion between schools and parents to prioritize student success, both in and out of the classroom. At Alvis, we believe in the power of family and community, which is why one of our primary groups of clients is families, especially children, impacted by their loved ones’ justice involvement, developmental disability, and/or behavioral healthcare needs. 


Our Family and Children’s Program specifically works to reunite families, and many of our clients are motivated by families to seek treatment at Alvis, in hopes of receiving necessary care that will help them turn their lives around. Alvis joins the rest of the nation in observing this day, which promotes healthy parental involvement that is key in a child’s development. Our goal is always to better the lives of individuals, families, and 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.

National Philanthropy Day

Philanthropy means the love of humanity.

Philanthropy has distinguishing characteristics separate from charity; not all charity is philanthropy, or vice versa, though there is a recognized degree of overlap in practice. A difference commonly cited is that charity aims to relieve the pain of a particular social problem, whereas philanthropy attempts to address the root cause of the problem—the difference between the proverbial gift of a fish to a hungry person, versus teaching them how to fish.

Created in 1986, The Columbus Foundation Award recognizes organizations that have made a difference in the quality of life in our community. Alvis has worked toward giving clients a second chance for over fifty years. Alvis started out in 1967 at 971 Bryden Road, serving 60 men on parole from the Ohio Penitentiary. Within its inaugural decade, Alvis secured two other facilities and began serving those with development disabilities as well as those with employment service needs. Alvis has over 50 years of experience, we now serve approximately 10,000 clients per year, and in August, were named the 2019 Columbus Foundation Award winner.

Many of our employees have watched Alvis grow and continue to help people turn lives around. Our Social Enterprise Director Ramona Wheeler says, of our recent award, “personally, it means that Alvis has taken a big step in a new direction.”

Director of Grants, April Steffy, says, “Personally I was very proud of the organization.” April believes the award validates that Alvis is a place that shows clients “where I am does not define who I am.”

Alvis wants to reach as many people as possible. Would you like to help turning lives around? Check out our most recent volunteer opportunities:

Family and Children’s Program

Alvis is looking for fun, enthusiastic volunteers to help set up, serve and/or provide a meal; facilitate a craft; create an activities kit or project; play games; and participate in other activities designed to help repair relationships and reconnect families.

HYPE (Helping Young People Excel) Program

This is our after-school program for the children of women at Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program. We are looking for enthusiastic women to assist at-risk children with homework, engage in mindful therapeutic activities, and play games.

Facility Beautification—Inside and Outside

Some of our facilities are in need of some “tender loving care,” such as painting and other

interior beautification. Help for a spring planting or fall clean up will be much appreciated!

Special Events

Opportunities include working at Evening of Light and/or Portraits of Recovery, our fundraising events for our Family and Children’s Programs; Family Picnics and other group recreation projects; helping with monthly socialization activities for our clients with developmental disabilities; bringing some cheer to our clients during the holidays; and more! We can connect individuals and/or groups to an event that will warm your heart.

Mentoring for Women

We need female mentors to be positive role models for women with substance abuse issues who are also in a specialty court program. This opportunity involves volunteering on Tuesday evenings at our Pages Treatment and Recovery Center.

Unique Talents

If you can teach piano, art, cooking classes, yoga, crafts, knitting, sports, etc., we would love for you to join our volunteer team. We can also always use individuals who can mentor clients as they reenter and/or prepare for new challenges and successes in the workplace.

In-Kind Donations

Alvis uses items many people take for granted, like shampoo, lotion, body mist, etc. to help the clients who come to us with nothing and/or as incentive items for achieving program goals. We need men’s/women’s toiletries (soap, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste/tooth brush, and combo products like 3 in 1 body wash, shampoo & conditioner); laundry detergent; books; new/gently used clothing and shoes (both for work, such as black pants & white shirts/dress shirts as well as casual clothing); new underwear and socks.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please contact Caroline Ricca, Volunteer and Intern Manager, at Caroline.Ricca@alvis180.org or call 614.252.8402 x337. 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.

World Kindness Day and Random Acts of Kindness Friday!

world kindness day and random acts of kindness friday alvis blog

There are two perfect opportunities available this month to spread kindness!

The first one is World Kindness Day, on November 13th. And the second one is Random Acts of Kindness Friday, which occurs on November 29th (Black Friday).

Both of these days are sponsored by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, who, in their own words, is a “small nonprofit looking to make kindness the norm.”


The RAK Foundation, in their mission to make kindness the norm, spreads kindness through their promotion of curated classroom curriculums, workplace kindness calendars, and a huge social media presence that endorses World Kindness Day and RAK Friday. On their website, they also have many touching stories on their community blog, quotations, videos, and the opportunity to become a RAKtivist!

RAK Friday (here’s their Facebook page), is a little more specific than World Kindness Day, and calls upon all global “RAKtivists” to do one random act of kindness during the day. In 2018, through their tag #RAKFriday, they managed to get 2018 different shares of random acts of kindness across the world.

World Kindness Day focuses on pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals, or organizations! Alvis, as an organization, believes in giving second chances. From our office climate, to our direct daily interaction with clients, kindness not only motivates but helps others unlock the potential inside themselves. Kindness is central to making any positive difference, and we commend everyone who is making a positive #180DegreeImpact in their community.

So… go out and make someone’s day a little better!

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.

Giving Tuesday is almost here!

Giving Tuesday Blog post

Giving Tuesday is almost here! Giving Tuesday is a global giving movement, celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which occurs right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This day is also marking the beginning of the holiday season for many people, and it appropriately embraces the spirit of giving. You can follow Giving Tuesday on social media, through Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, to see the giving that others are doing across the globe through this movement to donate time, money, gifts, and voice.

Our summer intern marketing team at Alvis donated time to serve at various nonprofits and service opportunities across the community, such as game nights at the Ronald McDonald House, landscaping at the Franklin Park Conservatory, serving food and water at the Reeb Avenue Center, and helping with fitness activities at Senior Health and Fitness Day at Nationwide Arena. These happened in two hour increments, and in just a short time, interns were touched by the impact they could feel themselves making, and the community was made a little better.

Visit http://www.givingtuesday.org to see the different ways that you can make a #180DegreeImpact in your community. There are a number of local projects that are coinciding with Giving Tuesday, including some in central Ohio!

Here at Alvis, we are honored to have donors that give time, funding, and actual gifts for our clients, and we have volunteers who also put forth effort into directly impacting lives, and helping Alvis achieve its overall goal, which is helping to turn lives around.

Whether it’s using your creative talent, a random act of kindness, or making a donation, this day encourages us all to join in the giving movement, so we can make the world a little bit better.

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 Caregivers Month

November is National Caregivers Month! This month, we recognize the impact that caregivers have in our lives, and our families, and we raise awareness of the issues that they face. The theme of this year’s National Caregiving Month is “Caregiving Around the Clock,” indicating that caregiving is a job that might need to be done 24/7, at all hours of the day and night. This can “crowd out other areas of our life,” according to the Caregiver Action Network.

The American Society on Aging finds that more than 65 million people in the United States provide care for chronically ill, disabled or aged family members or friends during any given year, and these people spend 20 hours a week providing this care.

Caregiving can be taxing on one’s mental health, physical health, career, nutrition, rest, and general wellbeing. Caregivers include both unpaid family members and loved ones, and paid individuals, like some of our staff members at Alvis, who work in our integrated behavioral healthcare services, as well as with our clients that have developmental disabilities.

We thank our Alvis caregivers, and stand with them as they care for clients who are on the road to reentry and recovery. It is because of them that we are able to touch so many families, and help in turning entire lives around!

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 Make A Difference Day

The mantra “pay it forward” has been gaining attention as movements such as random acts of kindness are popping up across the nation. But today, we want to focus on one man who is working to turn his life around and make a difference for someone else. This man has spent the last 43 years of his life in prison.  

Wendell Drake’s father died when he was young and his mother, grief-stricken, was in and out of mental health institutions. Drake says that when his parents disappeared from his life, so too did all forms of discipline. He got involved in minor criminal activity, but he says he never felt totally settled in the lifestyle he was building. 

He was sent to a juvenile facility at the age of 16, where he noticed that the other guys in the facility were enjoying and embracing their lives that involved criminal activity. “That was the beginning,” he says with tears in his eyes. “That was the beginning of my destruction.”

“I was in a world of trouble,” Drake says of the next few years when he ended up serving nearly two years as a juvenile after an armed robbery where one of his co-defendants was shot in the head. He says at one point, he would have denied being there that day because he didn’t go inside. But now he recognizes “I was just as much responsible for it as any of them were.” But still, the time he spent in prison was a “badge of honor” to so many of the people in his life at that time and, when he came home, he was asked to be part of another robbery. He agreed. 

“At that point in my life,” he explains, “I probably didn’t even realize that I had an inner-self. Not to mention the string of victims that I left in my wake.”

On the day he would pull that trigger, he says he never planned to use the gun. But the owner was not willing to stand by and be robbed. The owner pulled out a pool stick and Drake panicked. Before he realized what he’d done, he pulled the trigger that would kill an innocent man. But Drake says his intentions on that day do not matter. He never meant to hurt anyone, but he did. “It does no good to the person that I shot nor does it do any good to the grieving hearts of his remaining loved ones who know that their loved one was struck down for nothing. It does them no good.”

After nearly half a century of justice system involvement, Drake says, “it was necessary.” He believes it was “preordained from the Creator for me to go through the experiences I went through in order to be the person that I am.”

And who is that person? A man who has accepted his guilt, accepted his punishment, and accepted his ability to change. Drake believes that people have the ability to turn their lives around and that humans are not the sum of where they came from. “For the rest of my life I will be trying to do everything in my power to help an individual live a little bit better than what they’re living now.”

Drake’s goal is to be part of a reentry program like the one he completed at Alvis. “I would like to continue to work in reentry in a formal type of way. I would like somebody to take a look at me, look at my credentials, look at my experiences… and see if I am who I say I am.”

He sites Ohio’s overall 30% recidivism rate as being a primary concern as well as the demographic of kids who are growing up in the same situation he did. His goal to be part of reentry comes from his experience with Alvis

“I had nowhere else to go when I was on parole,” he explains. But Mr. Ross, an Alvis operations manager, told him, “we are going to give you all the opportunity in the world to succeed and see what you do with it.”

Community programs such as Touch have also reached him in life-changing ways, and Drake jokes his praise is so strong, “they will have to pay me for a commercial.”

But Drake has seen what a true support system can do for a person. “CPT, Primary Care Solutions Agency, the Nehemiah House, Refuge—organizations and groups like this, people like this, they helped me to want to do the right thing by showing that ‘I believe you can make it.’”

After seeing the difference such programs have made in the lives of others, Drake believes this is his calling. “I want to be able to make a significant influence,” he says. “What you do for somebody else can be grand if you are truly helping them move from one point to another. And that’s what I try to live by.”

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.

5 Steps to Healthy Living

It’s no surprise to anyone that sitting five days a week in a nine to five job takes a toll on your health. Being pulled in a million different directions also makes it hard for a person in modern-day society to make their health a priority. Through healthy eating and incorporated exercise, read on to learn how to make healthy happen in this crazy busy life!

National%20Health%20Education%20Week.png
  1. Pay attention to your posture Since the beginning of time, we have all been nagged by our grandmothers to sit up straight. We all subconsciously know the value of good posture. But do you know what good posture means? Well, for starters, your computer screen should be an arm’s length away from you, and the top of your monitor should be level with your forehead. Your elbows should be bent at your side at a right angle. Your hips and knees should also be at right angles when sitting. Your feet should lay fat on the floor. To read more about good posture at a desk job, click here.
  2. Move when you can Taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make you feel more awake and raise your heartrate. Standing when doing mundane tasks in your office can increase blood flow. Going to the gym during your lunch break can invigorate you for the rest of your workday. All of these activities are simple steps in adding movement to your day!
  3. Meal Prepping Every Instagram model has boasted of her super successful meal prepping journey. It may shock you to hear this, but she might have the right idea. Meal prepping can make weekday meals easier and less stressful for you and your family. If you are a person who cannot eat the same thing every night for a week, try meal prepping roasted vegetables or other healthy sides. Taking at least a little stress out of your food preparation can help you to feel more in control.
  4. Pack your lunch Everyone tells you to pack your lunch, but buying Chipotle during your lunch break is just so much easier. And often, the easier choice is the most difficult to avoid. To make improvements to your health, however, you must choose to path less traveled. After all, putting effort into things you want to change is the only way to get it accomplished. 
  5. Time manage your workouts Working out during the week seems outright impossible. We suggest, however, that you plan out your workouts in your planner! When you force yourself to carve out the time to work out, you are so much more compelled to actually follow through with it.

Although everything is easier said than done, we believe that small steps in the right direction are better than no progress at all. In terms of healthy living, it can be an entire lifestyle change. By pushing yourself to make tiny changes every day, you can start on your track to a healthy life.

World Smile Day

World Smile Day Alvis Blog

Happy World Smile Day! Today is an opportunity to spread kindness, positivity, and compassion toward others through the simple act of smiling. In making the world a happier place, we can also make ourselves happier. And if you weren’t already smiling from discovering that today is World Smile Day, you may want to smile even bigger after reading this blog post for National Smile Day.

There’s two days of the year that we get to celebrate the power of the smile! However, today is probably even more of an occasion, because it unites the entire world. Alvis is committed to improving lives, and while many of our clients have gone through true struggle and hardship, our goal is to leave them with the means to make a positive impact on themselves, their families, and their community.

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 Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day

national custodial worlers recognition day

It’s National Custodial Worker’s Day and we want to say: Thank you!

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas that usually last throughout a person’s lifetime. That definition may seem strange on National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day, but give us just a minute to explain.

According to the CSG Justice Center, people with developmental disabilities (DD) are overrepresented in jails and prisons and are more likely to be victimized in correctional settings. In studies completed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2018, people with DDs represent 4-10% of the prison population, and 40% of jail inmates have at least one disability.

Alvis works directly with DD clients, many who have been involved with the criminal justice system. Our staff, such as home managers and DSPs, works with clients that have developmental disabilities and offers resources and individualized support. Alvis also has two social enterprises that were created with the goal of helping clients build work experience, leadership qualities, and financial stability—one with a focus on DD clients.

So, let’s get back to National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day. At Alvis, we have the best custodial staff around. Transitions is one of our social enterprises in which correctional and DD Services team members complete custodial services in commercial spaces. The enterprise began in 2010 as a training component for clients and then expanded to become an established business in 2014. At its genesis, Transitions was formed because Alvis needed to hire a custodial team, so workers began cleaning Alvis facilities. But the business began growing and secured its first outside contract with a local nonprofit in 2016. The team continues to clean the Community Treatment Center on Livingston Avenue and the Stella Court offices, earning wages and developing essential workplace skills.

Alvis’s Transitions’ DD Services Team, is committed to aiding the DD population. Camilla Jackson, is a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with Developmental Disability (DD) Services at Alvis who was recently recognized by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She won two awards, the Horizon Award and the Constellation Award, for her exceptional effort as a DSP with Alvis. DD services are central to our outreach and we have gotten to be part of so many client success stories.

If you have a commercial space, are in need of cleaning services, and want to make a positive impact in the lives of these individuals, please contact Ramona Swayne by sending an email to ramona.swayne@alvis180.org. 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 Substance Abuse Prevention Month

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month Alvis Blog

Today marks the beginning of October! In addition to cider, pumpkin patches, Halloween, and flannels, this month is also known as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 90% of people with addictions to nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs begin using substances before age 18, and according to youth.gov, American youth aged 12-20 comprise 11% of the country’s monthly alcohol consumption, and approximately 23 million people over 12 years of age used illicit drugs in 2010. In many cases, addiction begins early in life.

Many of Alvis’ clients have co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders. In the past, a number of them have asserted that one of the most important things they’ve learned through treatment is that they simply aren’t alone. Solidarity and understanding are key in facilitating recovery from substance abuse, but what about prevention?

In terms of Alvis, one of the primary ways we aid in substance abuse prevention is by treating our clients as people without stigmatized pasts, because of how early addiction may develop. We believe that a person’s potential is more important than their past, and our vision is of a future when communities believe this, too. We can decrease substance abuse in our communities through continuing reentry programs like Alvis, which shatter the boundaries between those with justice system involvement and the greater community. By reducing stigmas, advocating for support systems, and shifting attitudes surrounding the negative effects of addiction, we can make it easier for individuals suffering from addiction or substance abuse to seek help.

Alvis also takes measures to specifically prevent substance abuse through our Family and Children’s Program. Across different areas of Alvis, the Family and Children’s Program works to reunite families, motivate youth to pursue education and success, and maintain transparency about the harmful, life-altering effects that drugs can do to one’s life.

While most of the time, Alvis is known for its reentry and recovery programs, many of which include individuals with substance abuse disorders, we also advocate for preventing it from developing in the first place by emphasizing the consequences and impact substance abuse can have, as well as working to reduce the stigmas that prevent healthy discussion and openness from taking place.

It is much harder to face addictions or co-occurring behavioral health disorders alone.

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 Working Parent’s Day

National Working Parents Day Alvis Blog

Parents do a lot for their kids—they constantly juggle scraped knees, runny noses, school schedules, and swim lessons. And, in the 21st century, many parents are doing all this while working fulltime jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in two-parent households, 49% consist of two working parents. Managing the tasks of parenthood on top of pressures of work can be challenging for these families.

Daisy Wademan Dowling of the Harvard Business Review says that most parental challenges can be divided into problems with: transition, practicalities, communication, loss, and identity. Maybe your kids are struggling with changing schools, feeling unable to express themselves, breaking up with a girlfriend, or feeling overwhelmed with busy schedules. She says the difference can be as simple as identifying the problem. “When people I’ve worked with… learn to see patterns in the strains they’re facing,” she explains, “they immediately feel more capable and in charge, which then opens the door to some concrete, feasible fixes.”

Dowling says working parents should complete these statements: ‘“I am a working-parent professional who…”; “I prioritize work responsibilities when…”; and “My kids come before work when….”’

Alvis client, Tracy Kirby, knows all about these steps for working parents. Tracy was in the justice system for nine years before entering Alvis’s doors. At that point, he had to choose his priorities and decide his next steps. Tracy says his children “[gave] me love [and] allowed me to love back. They have played a huge role in my recovery and new life.” Tracy now works as a chef at Coopers Hawk, and believes that providing for his children is his biggest priority.

So, the question is, how do we balance it all? How do we make sure we are prioritizing our children, staying successful in our work, and saving time for ourselves? Alvis understands the struggle and we see it in cases with parents who are also dealing with an ongoing struggle with sobriety and rehabilitation. Our program, Amethyst, is built so mothers can continue parenting their children while getting the help they need themselves. At the 2019 Amethyst graduation, twelve women received certificates of completion from the five-step rehabilitation program. One graduate, Courtney, said the day she drove herself to the facility, she did it only for her children. She found that, after completing treatment and recognizing her own worth and value, she now knows she wants to stay sober for herself as well.

No matter what your struggle is as a working parent, know that there are others out there who understand.  Whether it be taking a step back and analyzing your game plan as Dowling suggests, or reprioritizing your responsibilities as Tracy did, there are solutions out there to dealing with the stress of working families. And you are doing great. 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 Sober Day

Today is set aside to celebrate and support those who have chosen a path of sobriety. At Alvis, we recognize substance misuse as a disease and work to remove the stigma associated with those who are in or seeking recovery. Alvis believes that a person’s future is more important than his past and because of this, we advocate for and work with many people facing the battle of sobriety. 

The opioid crisis in Ohio is receiving so much attention because of the tragic number of fatalities each year. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid-induced deaths in Ohio are more than double the national average. Alvis’s POWER program, a rehabilitation program focused on helping those with opiate addiction, was established in 2016 and has admitted nearly three hundred clients. Our goal is to give these clients a second chance through education and treatment focused on addiction. 

As serious as the opiate epidemic has become, there is still a need for rehabilitation programs for many other forms of substance abuse, as well. JAMA Psychiatry found that, since the turn of the 21st century, alcoholism rates have risen 49% to the previous national average. One in eight American adults now meets the criterion to be considered a person with alcohol abuse disorder. 

Alvis has been a leader in the fight for sobriety since its establishment over fifty years ago. Our Recovery Choices Program focuses on cognitive-behavioral treatment and mentors our clients to recover from negative situations, cope with past trauma, and make positive choices for their futures. Our program, Amethyst, is a treatment option in which recovering women go through rehabilitation without being separated from their children. The program offers addiction treatment, housing options, medical services, psychological treatment, and training and placement in the workforce. Amethyst’s purpose is to empower the women and children in the program and focus on gender-specific needs of females going through recovery. 

No matter what kind of treatment a client needs, aftercare is crucial to Alvis because we know that many people recovering from substance misuse will struggle when returning to their previous environments. Our residential reentry centers focus on transitioning clients back to their own communities successfully and providing them with the support system they need. We have check-ins and post-program mentors that continue to work with clients even after they have completed the program. We know this works because our recidivism rate is nearly fifty percent less than the national rate as reported by the Bureau of Justice

The difference at Alvis is that our programs work toward comprehensive rehabilitation—that means adjusting the thought process, environment, and community network of each client, and then continuing support post-recovery. We believe that, if we provide evidence-based human services programs, we can support and empower our community members to build successful and healthy lives. We know our clients can turn their lives around and we are here fighting for those second chances. That is our 180 degree impact. 

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 Grandparents Day

National Grandparents Day Alvis Blog

Happy Grandparents Day! Along with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which also celebrate family, Grandparents Day is a perfect time to tell your grandparents how much they mean to you.

Here at Alvis, we value our grandparents who are committed to turning lives around and bettering the community through a 180 Degree Impact. Many employees at Alvis who are grandparents are also seniors who offer valuable life experience. They truly know the meaning of family and community, which directly ties back toward our mission.

Likewise, our clients also value family. One longstanding goal for many of our clients as they progress through treatment and recovery is to reunite with their families. Family serves as a means of motivation and support for many clients.

On this Grandparents Day, we celebrate family, and the warm feeling of support and community that grandparents, especially, can provide.

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 Recovery Month

National Recovery Month Alvis Blog

Today marks the beginning of National Recovery Month! Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this month is designed to spread awareness and understanding of mental health, substance use, and co-occurring behavioral health disorders, as well as people living and recovering from these disorders.

SAMHSA is an agency within the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), that advocates for advancements in behavioral health for the nation and improvements in lives of those living with mental and substance use disorders, and their families

Alvis, especially as of late, has been moving toward a behavioral healthcare model, offering billing through Medicaid and in-house psychiatry services providing medication and diagnoses. In-house services allow for better communication and higher quality service to clients from professionals who know the population of Alvis well. The current behavioral healthcare services at Alvis allow clients to receive optimal treatment in an empathetic, understanding environment.

We also have two programs primarily focusing behavioral health: Recovery Choices and the Amethyst program. Recovery Choices serves clients with past justice system involvement, as they receive transportation from halfway houses to reentry centers, where they take job training courses, receive counseling and individualized treatment plans, and have the opportunity to attain their GED, take university classes, and participate in activities with their family. The Amethyst program also offers many of the services that Recovery Choices provides, but it specifically serves women and their children, allowing them to live together on-site as they receive person-centered, trauma-informed care in a supportive setting, using evidence-based procedures.

NAADAC perhaps puts it best, when they claim that the main purpose of National Recovery Month is to celebrate “gains” that individuals with mental health or substance use disorders have made. We take this month to celebrate both small and large wins that our clients and former clients have made in taking ahold of their life and turning it around, 180 degrees for the better!

Addiction is an illness, and many times, addiction and behavioral health are co-occurring, which means that they are linked to the development of one another. Alvis has been a leader, not only in Ohio, but the entire nation, in addressing the very real pervasiveness of addiction and behavioral health disorders, as well as the need to provide resources to individuals and families affected by addiction and behavioral health disorders.

We celebrate those who have found the strength to ask for help and begin the process of changing their life for the better, as well as those (including thousands of our former clients!) who have done so.

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 School Success Month

Happy September! What you likely did not know is that this month is also National School Success Month. By September, youth are back in school and ready to tackle the upcoming academic year. A strong education for children lays the foundation for success in life, as it opens the door to new opportunities, as well as a stronger comprehension of the world.

The U.S. Department of Education has a month-by-month guide filled with goals that parents can set for themselves and their children. For September, they recommend reaching out to kids’ teachers, establishing routines, timing things right, packing the correct materials (children shouldn’t carry over 20% of their own body weight), and volunteering for school programs.

In addition to these recommended goals, School Success Month, in a nutshell, is even more based on what a child will learn from finding and pursuing their passions. We encourage all children to find what makes them motivated to succeed.

For many of our clients, especially the ones with our Family and Children’s Program and the Amethyst program, children are motivators to them. However, there are ways Alvis ensures that children of clients remain motivated and successful themselves while their guardians are recovering.

For children of moms involved with our Amethyst program, we provide SummerQuest.

SummerQuest is a day camp for children whose mothers are in treatment at Amethyst, an Alvis Recovery Program. The camp fosters fun, new experiences for kids when school lets out, so mothers are able to focus on their treatment. SummerQuest, afterschool, and other youth programs are offered for children staying at Amethyst, and these programs not only provide beneficial experiences for children, but also help to ensure that mothers stay focused on their treatment. Case managers assist clients with any needs for appointments or linkages to additional mental health services. Additionally, any type of Individualized Education Program (IEP) and/or specialty services are provided year-round so that children of clients receive all services they would if they were living in the community rather than at the Amethyst program.

Alvis’ Family and Children’s program also encourages children to achieve their academic and personal goals through the Summer Reading Program and bi-weekly activities occurring every Saturday afternoon throughout the year, involving community meals, games, and crafts. A heartwarming video demonstrating what goes on can be found here. The reading program is a result of a ten-week parenting program for moms, focusing on re-entry services, alongside co-occurring behavioral health and addiction services so that moms can get back to their families, and their lives. At the kickoff for this year’s Summer Reading Program, children were awarded Smart Cookie medals for their academic achievements and read a story called Splat the Cat.


Alvis also takes the time to celebrate family during significant holidays, with events such as our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebration, which brought families together to cherish each other and support one another. Dads specifically are able to bond with their children with events like our Doughnuts with Dad event, which occurs at our Jackson Pike location—a video of this event can be found here.

Families have a significant impact on a child’s wellbeing and their own ability to succeed in school. Alvis values education and recognizes the importance that children have in shaping the world to make a better tomorrow.

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.

Alvis Spotlight: Chris Mullen

Alvis employee spotlight on Chris Mullen Alvis blog

We are so grateful for our dedicated, passionate staff here at Alvis. Chris Mullen, Interim Operations Manager at the Jackson Pike facility, is someone who completely embodies our Alvis mission through his actions. He’s leaving Alvis at the end of the month after receiving a scholarship to pursue higher education in New York, but the five years that he’s spent with us have served as an example of what every staff member should strive to be like, and the impact that dedicated individuals can have on a client’s life.

As Interim Operations Manager, Mullen’ role involves enforcing safety, security, and sanitation, meeting with clients to discuss and investigate sanctions, and quite literally, he says, just as it sounds: “The operating of the facility.”

Every Alvis facility differs in the scope and variety of what it provides, but some of Jackson Pike’s programs are especially unique, because certain programs, like POWER and Treatment Transfer, are only available at Jackson Pike. This is sometimes why clients are referred to Jackson Pike instead of another location (it also may just depend on bed space). “Jackson Pike is a little different from the other facilities because we have so many different statuses here,” Mullen explains. All other Alvis locations provide 2-3 programs, but Jackson Pike has programs entailing Treatment Transfer, TC clients, PRC, common pleas, municipal court referrals, Healthy Choices, and the POWER program. This, Mullen finds, makes working at Jackson Pike challenging at times. For example, he says, if someone asks you “when can I start job seeking?” it depends on the status of which program they are in, and how far they have progressed in that program.

If someone is on the fence about applying for a position with Alvis, Mullen would suggest doing it. When he applied, he quickly realized that there would be more to the job than he initially expected. He started off working second shift at his location, which tends to be the busiest shift, as food deliveries are made, people are going in and out, medications are being given, and paperwork needs to be done for the next day. “I wanted to leave,” he admits, “but after about 30 days something really clicked.” Around this time, Mullen was also beginning to truly impact some of his clients. “It was actually a client that told me that something that I had shared with them really helped them to do better and see things a little differently,” he highlights. Mullen was able to see the impact that he was making on other people. There are still challenging situations that he faces, but he’s also viewing things from a new perspective now. “Every time I have felt myself challenged, something has reminded me why I enjoy being here.”

“There are a lot of personality types who can do really well in a role like this,” Mullen says. Someone who is able to be clear with clients and staff about expectations is key, so they are able to meet goals, along with communicating “what things they [clients] need to avoid that could be pitfalls to reaching those goals.” Logistically, this is a position that requires time and dedication, as well. “Being any kind of manager in a facility like ours,” he asserts, “is going to require anyone to be flexible in their schedule.” There can be emergencies or important things that come up on the job, so balancing time to meet immediate things as they come is vital to success.

As Mullen leaves, he also takes with him an extensive understanding of Alvis’ relationship to communities across Ohio. In some ways, that means noticing details that others may completely overlook. One thing he notices frequently, for example, are people leaving the Greyhound bus station, carrying trash bags. Many of these people, he emphasizes, are going home for the first time: “They may not have people in their life that are supportive anymore, and all their belongings are in a garbage bag.” There are better ways to come home, and, as Mullen indicates, “Alvis is that better way to come home.” He also is aware of the stigma that halfway houses have, but their critics may not be thinking of the wide-ranging good that can result. “A lot of people are concerned about having a halfway house in their community; what they don’t understand is that these people will [eventually] be living in their home in the community.” Is it not better, he poses, that when these people do go home, everything will be better for them, and more manageable? Without proper transition time and rehabilitation, there risks not only a detriment to the individual who is helped by the halfway house, but also the community.

Chris Mullen is exemplary of the devotion, passion, and commitment present in the Alvis mission. We are so thankful for his work with Alvis, and all that he’s done to connect with clients to help them get on the track for a better life. Thank you, Chris—we wish you the best in your future endeavors, and cannot wait to see the impact you make in others’ lives!

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

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons Alvis Blog Post

Today, July 30th, is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Human trafficking is the illegal transporting of women, men, and children, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sex. It’s a modern-day form of slavery.

The following paragraph consists of information from the United Nations:

The number of convicted traffickers and reported victims is rising, implying that efforts to combat human trafficking and human trafficking itself are both on the rise. Trafficking occurs worldwide, and 58% of victims are trafficked within their own country. Women and girls account for the majority of sex trafficking victims, and make up 35% of those trafficked for forced labor. In response to these staggering numbers, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and a chief provision of the plan allows for victims to receive assistance through grants to specialized NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Another recently-instated New York Declaration, produced at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, includes three concrete actions against human trafficking adopted by the countries in the Declaration.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime created this international day as a means to evoke government action, and stress the responsibility governments have in engaging with this world crisis. According to Human Rights First, approximately 24.9 million people are current victims of human trafficking, and 25% are children. The majority of trafficked persons (64%) are exploited for forced labor, and of those 16 million people, the highest percentage work in construction, manufacturing, mining, or hospitality. 4.8 million people (19% of victims) are estimated to be undergoing sexual exploitation, and the rest are exploited by state-imposed labor. Prosecutions regarding human trafficking are also exceedingly low in comparison to the estimated crimes.

Alvis stands with survivors and current victims of human trafficking. A percentage of our clients are survivors of human trafficking, and we house some of them in our CHAT House, which is specifically designated to provide reentry services for women who have been caught in the system of human trafficking. There are also a portion of human trafficking survivors enrolled in our Amethyst program. Many of these women are graduates of the CATCH Court, which is a creation of Judge Paul Herbert that focuses on rehabilitation and reentry services for women trafficking survivors.

CATCH Court, contrary to a regular court session, does not focus on sentencing, but rather, ensuring trauma-informed, rehabilitative care, so that survivors of sex trafficking are able to escape that damaging way of life. In turn, they receive support and resources so that they are empowered to take life back into their own hands. Alvis commends the CATCH Court for being an effective form of governmental intervention against human trafficking.

We call for increased government action against human trafficking nationwide and worldwide, while also standing with victims and survivors.

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.

POWER Program

On Thursday, July 11th, Alvis and its partners, Franklin County Probation and Talbot Hall, are celebrating three successful years of the POWER (Partnering Organizations for Wellness, Empowerment, and Recovery) program. During its first three years, nearly 300 people have come to the POWER program for treatment of opiate addiction combined with justice involvement. “Maybe it’s because they’re all there for the same reason and they have that common bond,” says Chris Mullen, Interim Operations Manager at Alvis’ Jackson Pike facility, who admires that individuals involved with POWER are very much a team. “It’s really important to have peer encouragement whenever you’re going through a life-changing program.”

A life-changing program is exactly what the POWER program is. In the midst of the nation’s opiate addiction epidemic, this program addresses the urgent need for treatment in central Ohio. A partnership between Franklin County Adult Probation, Alvis, and Talbot Hall, the POWER program involves holistic, evidence-based treatment combined with court supervision, medication-assisted treatment (primarily Vivitrol), counseling, and behavioral therapies. This program is based at Alvis’ Jackson Pike facility. Up to 20 clients participate in the residential program at any given time.

The Process of Recovery

Accepted clients either self-report, or are transported to Jackson Pike by probation officers, and receive assessments and treatment plans at Talbot Hall, which also determines their residential or outpatient track. Assessments include determining if a client needs detoxification, medications and/or other health care. Following detox and the recommendation of medically-assisted treatment, participants receive their first Vivitrol injection (or another medication approved for treatment of opiate addiction). Simultaneously, participants receive medical care at Talbot Hall and group and individual substance abuse counseling at Jackson Pike. All clients follow their designated program track. Residential care also involves life skills education, cognitive behavioral treatment, and ongoing case management.

Treatment plans are highly individualized depending upon assessed needs, but developed according to a similar treatment structure. Clients go through the same Phases—Phase One is approximately 14 days, including detoxification/initial administration of medication assisted treatment. Phase Two (approximately 3 months) involves core treatment. Phase Three (approximately one month) focuses on relapse prevention, reentry, recommendations for aftercare in the community, and following up on any unmet assessed needs. Phase Four consists of aftercare in accordance iwth the treatment plan. Phase Five, the last phase, entails continuous care addressing one’s substance abuse disorder. During Phase One, clients remain in Alvis’ residential program and participate in ambulatory detox that also addresses medical needs daily at Talbot Hall.

Changing Lives

POWER program Alvis blog

Many clients in the POWER program have battled addiction, but it is often their first time their addiction has coincided with justice involvement. Clients are taking a hard look at themselves and how they came to Alvis, then working with treatment staff to develop the plan, skills and supports that will change their lives for the better. Michael, a client, was born to parents addicted to drugs. He was adopted at the age of 7 and grew up on the South Side of Columbus. As he got older, he also became addicted. Michael attempted to quit for his children and when the attempt failed, he ended up losing them. “It breaks my heart,” he said. “This time, I got help for myself, because I want to live life on life’s terms.” He mentions that the Vivitrol, especially, has been helpful, and is going to help save his life. “I want to go to any lengths to get sober and get my family back.”

For other clients, like Christopher and Adam, this program marked a journey of self-cultivation and understanding. POWER, Christopher notes, allowed him to “learn a lot about myself while being sober,” including how it affects himself, loved ones, and society as a whole. “I lost my mom while I was in here on the date of April 27th.” Following this, Christopher went through multiple relapses, but staff stuck by him and continued to work with him on his efforts to change the patterns of behavior that have led to devastating consequences. The staff, he finds, are very supportive and helpful. “I just hope I can continue to take what they taught me here and take it into my everyday life… I’ve been in prison and in and out of county jails and programs and it didn’t really click until now.” One thing that stands out to POWER Client Adam, is “the way they change thinking. Ways I thought I was set in stone made me look at different ideas. To think things through.” Adam is performing a rendition of “Lost Highway” by Hank Williams, Sr., at the celebration on the 11th. He chose to play a song that “touches bases on men similar in my shoes.” A huge takeaway that he’s learned from POWER is that there is always hope.

Over and over, POWER participants emphasized the role of staff when attributing how they found their inner power to stay clean and work to successfully reenter into the community. Jacy, who completed POWER two weeks ago, states simply that staff “genuinely cared about me and my future being successful.” It was because of the committed staff that he was able to overcome the challenges that come with battling a substance use disorder. “Try to take everything you can from the program. They will set you up to be successful.” John, another recent graduate of the program, is also determined to move forward because of the support that he’s received from the staff, which entails “a bunch of tools that I’m going to need out in the real world.” He reasons that this involves dealing with situations, rather than relying to drug use/criminal activity, as well as learning new ways to view things, and different thought processes. He’s motivated to do this for a variety of reasons: “Just wanting to stay clean, wanting to be a better, productive member of society…for my family. I’ve got a bunch of little kids as well.”

Another client, Dave, who came in on May 7th, put it simply: “Great program, great group  of guys, couldn’t ask for a better staff.” Like other Alvis programs, POWER does not just focus on treating the illness, but holistically treating the individual. Whether it is GED courses or job readiness programs, the end goal for particpants in POWER is to truly become empowered so that they can turn their lives around for the better.

Alvis joins Stephanie Ward, Program Director, and Chris Ayers, POWER Coordinator, in congratulating current clients and graduates of the POWER Program who are now looking forward to a future  filled with sobriety and success.

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.

DSP Spotlight – Camilla Jackson

DSP Spotlight- Camilla Jackson

Alvis has locations all across Ohio, and we treasure our talented, passionate staff at these locations who truly care about the work they do.

One of these people is Camilla Jackson, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with Developmental Disability (DD) Services at Alvis. Jackson was recently recognized by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities, winning two awards that commend her work as a DSP with Alvis: the Horizon Award and the Constellation Award. 

The awards ceremony took place in Newark, and honored agencies across Licking County involved in work with DD populations. Many from the non-profit world attended, and Jackson represented Alvis.

The Horizon Award celebrates Jackson’s ability to match people’s interest to events, and helping them expand their horizons, while the Constellation Award credits her capacity in providing opportunities for growth and advancement, helping co-workers become the brightest stars. Both of Camilla Jackson’s awards highlight the outstanding commitment she has shown toward her clients and her vocation.

Daily, Jackson works directly with residential clients and provides them with services, such as assisting with medication, doctor’s appointments, cooking, cleaning, and day-long outings.

Few people get to work directly to change the lives of the clients of whom they get to work. For DSPs, however, this magnitude of impact occurs daily. Jackson stresses that patience is key in this line of work. “I make sure that the guys are in good health, make sure they’re safe at all times.” She finds, too, that an essential component of the job is “making sure you treat them right,” and making sure “they have a good day.” Outings especially keep the guys busy, and, according to Jackson, are always a source of enjoyment.

DSPs work with support specialists and provide individualized services to clients, who each have their own Individual Program Plan (IPP) or Individual Services Plan (ISP). They encourage Alvis’ mission of holistic growth and recognizing the potential in each of our clients.

One of the most rewarding aspects of Jackson’s job is simply being there for clients and listening to them. Jackson has been with Alvis for a year and ten months. “It seems longer than that,” she says, “but I really love it!”

The passion that Jackson demonstrates within her vocation is one of the powerful, guiding forces that Alvis treasures in its DSPs, and other staff located at our DD sites.

We congratulate Camilla, and thank her for the commitment she’s shown to making a #180DegreeImpact on clients, and the community.

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.

Client Spotlight – Chris

Chris Alvis client

Chris, 24, is from Zanesville, Ohio. After serving 52 days at the London prison, he now is finishing up his time as an Alvis client at our Jackson Pike location, on a treatment transfer program (TTP) for drug and alcohol users. TTPs are individualized, based on what programmers determine a particular client needs.

Chris began his time at Alvis in an IOP (intensive outpatient program), and then completed classes at the Reeb Avenue Center. He then went to OSHA-10 and OSHA-30, which are construction-oriented occupational health and safety hazard training program. Chris quickly progressed through his outlined programming for Alvis, however, and now tutors people at one of Alvis’ re-entry centers for GED certification. He’s doing this until completely finishing his TTP, upon which he’ll be released with an ankle monitor—but he’s also doing much more.

“After I started going to the re-entry center and saw how everything operated over there, after I finished all the certificates I could get over there for my career path, I was basically done at that point… I started tutoring people over there. They gave me my own office that was vacant. I’d stay over there 8-5 every day, tutor people and help with anything I can throughout the facility and the operations that they do over there.” Not only has Chris become a valued asset to Alvis at the re-entry center, but he is considering a career with Alvis after finishing his time as a client, after 2 years! Lots of people who have involvement with the justice system need to be tutored for GEDs, and Chris has a college background, with a 4-year bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health administration. Additionally, Chris helps fellow clients with employment, staffing, housing, applying for social security benefits, and accessing benefits. “Some of the people don’t even think of me as a client,” he says.

Before arriving at Alvis, Chris thought that it was only a halfway house. He did not expect the slew of services and programs that were readily available for him to take advantage of. “Also,” he adds, “when I get out of here, I can use these services for life.” Chris has been going home on passes for nearly a month now. For him, Alvis is now like a legitimate job, which completely helps him prepare for the rest of his life after completing his programs here. On weekends, he goes home and relaxes. “The impact this has on the community is really everything, between housing and funding and financial aid for schools, references through Alvis…everything you need, they can help in some aspect, and if they can’t, they’ll find someone who can.”

Chris is in the process of getting his record sealed so he can possibly go back to firefighting again. Firefighting was Chris’ former career path, as he grew up and attended Jr. Fire Camp from age 13 throughout high school. He was a firefighter until he turned 21 and got married. The skills that he learned as a firefighter have applied at Alvis, too. Chris impacts some of the younger clients at Jackson Pike, who are less experienced and aware of the reality of the justice system. “Make this the stopping point at Alvis,” he frequently stresses, “and make things better.”

A big motivator for Chris’ drive to help out at the re-entry location is seeing the impact he makes on fellow clients. “The more and more I give back, the more I help people like I’m doing now.” Chris was imprisoned on May 15th of last year. Being in such a controlled environment despite his social, active personality, drove him to seek out ways to become involved, which led him to going above and beyond after coming to Alvis.

“I know where I was in my worst days of addiction, and I don’t ever want to go back there, so I try to help people as much as I can to lift their self-esteem, lift their self-worth, and help them achieve what they want to do.” A typical day for Chris used to involve IOP three days a week, and fellowship with other clients. “It’s laid back, really,” he explains. In the early days, challenges arose, as did experiencing bad behaviors. Chris strove to set himself apart from the bad behavior. He finds importance in getting out of the location itself and not simply staying in the building, so that clients are able to truly see what is out there and available to them.

Chris is thankful to Alvis for the tools it has given him to take his life back into his own hands so that he can live up to his true potential. “It’s a very good organization, and I’m very blessed… not everyone gets this opportunity.” For Chris, Alvis is a stepping stone to get back into the community, and his actions demonstrate how clients are able to make huge, #180DegreeImpacts in order to better themselves.

Treating the whole person doesn’t end in diagnosis or programming at Alvis—it entails focusing on clients as they progress throughout their entire journey. Even as they graduate into the real world, Alvis remains as a resource for them to help with transitional needs that may arise. We congratulate Chris on his journey to recovery, and thank him for going above and beyond to pass light onto others in the Alvis community.

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.

Celebrating Graduates of the Amethyst program at The Columbus Foundation

Celebrating the women graduating from the Amethyst program at The Columbus Foundation

Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program, provides integrated behavioral healthcare services specifically designed to meet the treatment needs of women. This unique program also provides supportive housing and children up to age 18 can live with their mothers while the mother is in treatment. The children receive counseling and other supportive services to address issues that may have arisen as a result of having a mother impacted by addiction and they participate in prevention programming designed to break the cycle of addiction.

On June 28th, The Columbus Foundation hosted the graduation ceremony for 12 women who completed all five phases of the Amethyst program. In what was once an annual ceremony, these graduations now occur twice a year because there are so many clients served in the Amethyst program. The room was filled with families, sponsors, community members, and agency staff. After opening remarks from Alvis President and CEO, Denise M. Robinson, each graduate was introduced by their counselor and then shared something about their recovery journey. Many touching, inspirational stories were shared.

“Today, we are celebrating the healing power of recovery, reunited and strengthened families, and hope for a brighter future,” said Robinson. “The fact is, no one comes to the Amethyst program because things are going well. It took strength and courage to get you into treatment. The day you came to the Amethyst program, you let a little sliver of hope into your life. Over time and with the help of staff, the clients who came before you, and others, that little sliver of hope began to grow…Today, your sliver of hope has become a shining star.”

Victoria “Tori” Buck, one of the primary counselors at Amethyst, led the individual recognition portion of the graduation ceremony. Ten graduates were in attendance. A powerful statistic she brought forth was that all of the graduates, combined, had a total of 32 years, 1 month, and 6 days clean and sober.

All of the graduates, and nearly everyone in attendance, was privy to a range of emotions, including lots of laughter and tears. Not every graduate was able to articulate how they felt, but the room felt the sheer impact of their stories, their feelings, and their hope.

“When I came to Amethyst, I thought nothing was wrong with me,” began Jess, one of the graduates. She thought it would be easy to pass through Amethyst, but realized that she needed her perspective challenged. “It’s created a new self-awareness. I’m very aware about the things I do and why I do them.” Now, as she leaves Amethyst, she considers clients and staff as family.

Another graduate, Robin, thanked God, and those who believed in her from the start. “What Miss Denise said about feeling lonely, hopeless—I felt all that. This program has helped me restore everything.” Courtney, another graduate, remembers the exact day she changed her life: April 24, 2015. This was the day she drove herself up to the Amethyst program to enter treatment. “I had to humble myself and ask for help, which still to this day is very hard to do.” While, in the beginning of this program she was doing it for her children, after this program, she now finds that she’s doing it for herself.

Two other meaningful parts of the ceremony involved the graduates giving flowers to others. First, they gave flowers to friends and family members who were especially helpful to them during their time in the program. Then, the graduates gave flowers to all of the women in the Amethyst treatment community in each phase of treatment, descending from Community, Empowerment, Foundation, Hope, and Entry.

Virginia “Ginny” O’Keeffe, one of the founding mothers of Amethyst, was in attendance at the graduation. Because of her shared vision and heart with the other founding mothers, the Amethyst program has saved thousands of lives over the years. Sarah Niemeyer, who retired as Clinical Director of the Amethyst program a couple of years ago, was also at the ceremony, cheering on the clients for reaching this milestone.

Shannon Ginther, Chair of Columbus Women Commission, Senior Director of Community Health Partnerships at OhioHealth, and First Lady of Columbus, expressed her sentiments upon attending the graduation. “It’s even more amazing standing on this side,” she said. “Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today.” Ginther’s whole life has been spent learning about women, families, communities, and how to best help them. She stressed the impact of hearing real stories from the women, both as sources of education and inspiration. “You are exactly where you are meant to be. Step proud, step into that. Congratulations!”

Linda Janes, Chief Program Officer of Alvis, closed out the ceremony, noting, “Outside of this room, we hear one story after another about the tragedy of the opiate epidemic. Today, we’ve heard about recovery that works, that lasts, and that is changing the future for these women and their children.” Janes said that all can feel the warmth and hope shine in this room. “The Amethyst program is so much more than a treatment program – it is a community of recovery.” Like other Alvis programs, the Amethyst program remains committed to turning lives around. “We wrap our arms around you and we hold you tight. Our staff never give up.”

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.

Alvis Wellness 180 Club

Alvis Wellness 180 Club Foundations of Fitness blog post

Alvis’ Wellness 180 Club

Two weeks ago, Alvis had an exciting kickoff event for its new Wellness 180 Club, which sponsors events that encourage general healthiness and wellbeing, such as wellness lunches and upcoming challenges. For example, July’s challenge is a hydration challenge—employees are encouraged to drink 64 oz of water (8 cups) daily for the entirety of the month! The club is designed to encourage wellness amidst the daily demands of life and work, eligible for both full and part-time employees.

Events typically happen monthly. The kickoff event for the Wellness 180 Club occurred on June 14th, and centered on stretches that can be done in the workplace to combat common aches and pains that can come from prolonged deskbound time, such as stiff backs and joints. There was also a drawing, and two winners received free year-long memberships to Planet Fitness.

The Wellness 180 Club is made possible through the Alvis insurance provider, Anthem. For a more holistic viewpoint of our insurance and various benefits (there are many) to employees, click here.

We look forward to the next Wellness 180 Club Event: a lunch and learn on August 22nd, which includes a professionally guided group exercise class focused on safe and proper forms of fundamental fitness exercises.

Alvis genuinely cares about our employees’ physical and mental wellbeing, as we simultaneously prioritize the wellbeing of our clients.

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 PTSD Awareness Day

National PTSD Awareness Day: Facing Facts with Dr. Shively

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 7-8% of the nation’s population, and June 27th draws attention and provides opportunities to educate people about this very prevalent mental illness that can happen to anyone.

Randy Shively, Ph.D., is a psychologist in the state of Ohio and Director of Research and Clinical Development at Alvis. He works directly with Alvis clients who battle PTSD and have criminogenic treatment needs.  At Alvis, he provides treatment to clients, training to staff, and he conducts applied research.

In practice, Shively has found that PTSD is frequently related to individual, case-by-case mental health situations. “Those who have post-traumatic issues also have other mental health disorders that are often co-occurring,” explains Shively.  The other disorders include depression, phobias, and panic attacks. Clients dealing with PTSD are sometimes referred to an outside treatment resource because many are at Alvis for 4-6 months and they need to be connected to resources and treatment that will continue after the client has moved on from Alvis.

Anything that interferes with one’s feeling of safety can lead to trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, or natural disasters. Shively finds that in Alvis’ specific population of clients, physical abuse, severe neglect, and fear of abandonment are prevalent—many clients with justice involvement have undergone relational trauma with members of their families.

 An ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences, Kaiser Permanente and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has found that the more traumatic events a person has been exposed to, the higher the likelihood of a person experiencing mental health illnesses and physical problems throughout their lifespan. “Trauma-informed care has actually become a best practice…we’ve started developing trainings at Alvis to actually give all our staff help in how to respond to clients, universally, that could have trauma history, and we know that a significant percentage of our population who have been incarcerated have experienced multiple traumas within their lives – some within the corrections system.”

Those with PTSD symptoms exhibit discomfort toward a variety of things that lessen their quality of life, and, as described by Dr. Shively, they “often have trouble in relationships because people, places and things can trigger deep feelings of insecurity, so fears often keep them from people who care about them and for them. With this diagnosis, there’s often a lot of avoidance.” This avoidance includes any potential triggers that may conjure up feelings of past traumas. Additionally, sleep problems, startle behaviors, eating problems connected with depression, and nighttime fears may occur.

Above all else, Dr. Shively finds that it is paramount to recovery that staff calmly respond to these exhibited behaviors.  “It’s important to realize and be careful of how we respond to folks when we see abrupt negative behaviors, because often they can be resolved with trauma informed care and their fear, insecurity, and stress is getting played out in the moment.”

There are a variety of misconceptions about PTSD. As previously mentioned, many people with PTSD have anxieties and triggers regarding relationships, which can lead some to incorrectly perceive them as oppositional or difficult. Another common misconception is that PTSD can be entirely cured, or eliminated. Typically, it can be managed, similar to an addiction, but it can also get triggered years later. Immediate results from treatment are not always possible—working through a traumatic experience can take months, or even years.  Some people may be surprised to learn that staff who work with clients in recovery for traumatic experiences can develop trauma themselves from exposure through supporting that client. According to Dr. Shively, Alvis provides mental health supports and community referrals to address the needs of staff.

Over time, Alvis has developed an integrated behavioral healthcare model.  “In the past, we sent clients to another provider, outside of Alvis, and that interfered with the continuity of care,” Shively says. Alvis professional staff, who know the clients well, provide in-house services, allowing better communication and higher quality services.

Being informed about PTSD and its impact on everyday people can be crucial to a person’s recovery. “We could push them over the edge if we’re not being empathetic in how we respond,” Shively warns. He also highlights that education is critical for staff to understand PTSD clients, and for clients to understand their own mental health processes. “When we understand our own underlying problems, it helps us cope in better ways,” says Shively. Connecting clients to outside resources and drawing attention to the reality that other people out there in the world have experienced similar symptoms and diagnoses can help them feel less alone and more empowered to manage their symptoms of trauma.

A key source of motivation for Dr. Shively comes from clients. In a role that he has tailored over the past 28 years, he expresses that 4-5 former Alvis clients from years ago still call him once or twice a month just to check in. “It does matter that you’re present.” The current behavioral healthcare services at Alvis allow clients to receive optimal treatment in an empathetic, understanding environment. “Sometimes staff may not see how important they are in the overall scope of things, but we’re doing things here that other states aren’t even trying.”

People who deal with PTSD face stigmas and societal challenges that can hinder their ability to manage their illness and recovery. Alvis combats these stigmas and encourages everyone to support survivors of traumatic experiences.

Our population [the individuals served by Alvis] are very misunderstood in the community,” Shively emphasizes. “We really do need community support. For some clients dealing with their mental health symptoms is a long-term, lifelong problem.”

The more support that someone has, the more successful they are likely to be in the future.

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.

Promoting Wellness on National Hydration Day

As the weather heats up, it’s becoming more and more important to take care of our bodies, especially if we’re outside. Today, June 23, is National Hydration Day. This day is aligned with National Men’s Health Month and some of the other recent national awareness days we’ve been blogging and posting about, such as Senior Health and Fitness Day, and Call Your Doctor Day. National Hydration Day is exactly what it sounds like—keeping yourself hydrated!

This day is also rather timely, considering that two days ago, June 21, was the first official day of summer in 2019.  June is also the second most popular vacation month in the Midwest, according to a Gallup poll.  

This summer, Alvis is all geared up with various programs that provide opportunities for learning and growth. One area of focus is on youth, who are out of school and looking for ways to enjoy summer fun.  We are also focused on families, as summer is a traditional time for more family activities and togetherness because kids are out of school and have more time.

One of these programs is SummerQuest: a day camp for youth whose mothers are involved with Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program. Funded by the ADAMH Board, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and private donations, SummerQuest allows children to participate in age-appropriate activities, go on educational field trips, and take part in outdoor games, sports, and activities.  Most importantly, SummerQuest provides supportive counseling for children who experienced trauma in their lives before their mothers came to the Amethyst program for treatment.

The Summer Reading Program allows kids aged K-12 who are involved in our Family and Children’s Program, to track their reading progress (similar to reading programs in schools). This program runs from June 15 to August 3. As an immediate reward, they receive one age-appropriate book gifted to them when they embark on their summer reading journey. The children read their books alongside family members and guardians, so the whole family is engaged in the joy of reading. As they come back every two weeks, the children can pick from a batch of prizes when they reach certain milestones. At the end of the summer, they will be able to pick one big prize from a treasure chest.

In addition to our youth and family programs, Alvis staff are committed to supporting mental and physical health and wellness for all clients. Physical health and mental health are interconnected, and Alvis aims to ensure that our clients are able to explore and learn more ways to live healthy, happy lives.

The participation that we see amongst children and families through these programs each year inspires us all to continue in our commitment to making a #180DegreeImpact.

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.

The Origin Story of Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program

The origin story of Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program

The Origin Story of Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program

In 1984, nine women in recovery began a peer support program. Their vision identified the demand for integrated behavioral healthcare for women with children who also needed housing.

“It’s difficult to get addiction treatment along with long-term housing arrangements,” explains Heidi Hess, Clinical Director of the Amethyst program. While Amethyst has been around for 34 years, it was only recently acquired by Alvis in 2017. This provided the Amethyst program with additional monetary and administrative support. In central Ohio, the Amethyst program has continued to be a uniquely supportive, holistic treatment center for women with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders, often in conjunction with extensive trauma. A huge factor that makes the Amethyst program distinct from other treatment programs for women is the fact that it allows for women to live with their minor children, and it specifically works to reunite and strengthen families. According to Hess, there are only a handful of treatment centers that work to re-engage children with their mothers. Most residences at Amethyst have more than one bedroom, and the program provides services for women and their children.

The Amethyst program is one of Alvis’ two integrated behavioral healthcare programs. The other one, Recovery Choices, was created to provide behavioral healthcare services to individuals with justice involvement. Many Recovery Choices clients reside in Alvis’ residential reentry centers and rely on vans to transport them between the residential program and Recovery Choices. Women in Alvis’ residential reentry programs and in treatment at Recovery Choices may eventually transition to Amethyst to support their long term recovery.

The Amethyst program provides both an outpatient program and an intensive outpatient program (IOP). The main difference between these programs is the amount of time spent in treatment each week and the overall duration of the treatment, with IOP requiring more time in treatment. Recovery housing is an additional aspect of the Amethyst program model. The primary goal is always a lifetime of recovery.

Amethyst takes walk-ins, and women are able to go directly to the main treatment facility located at 455 E. Mound Street if they are seeking assistance. For contact information regarding intake, click here.

“Clients come to us from all sorts of places,” Hess explains. Many come from the judicial system. “We work very closely with the CATCH court and drug court in Franklin County.” Women who receive referrals from those courts as well as women going through the shelter system are eligible to receive treatment at the Amethyst program. Prior to arriving at the Amethyst program, many clients live with relatives or “couch surf,” unable to get on their feet due to their struggle with addiction. Others are referred by word of mouth.

Effective treatment is always rooted in highly individualized treatment plans and follows a typical process. After a woman first makes the initial contact with Amethyst, she is screened by an intake counselor and recommended for a level of care in accordance with her symptoms. Following the intake, a client is educated in terms of the criteria she meets for the treatment level

of care. If she meets IOP or outpatient criteria, she then attends an orientation, where she learns about all of the programming. After orientation, she’ll be engaged with her intake counselor as her first counselor at Amethyst, and join an entry level group with other clients who are also new to recovery.

Once into the treatment schedule, a client will spend her morning sessions focused on treatment for substance use disorder, while afternoon sessions address mental health treatment needs. There are also lunch groups and specialty treatment groups to address topics such as trauma and parenting. Women who have been at the Amethyst program for a longer period of time attend a group called “Moving Forward,” which focuses on the steps they need to take in order to move forward and live independently.

Outside of the typical day-to-day structure, however, there is even more room for individualized treatment. On Wednesdays, time is given for women to attend outside appointments. On Fridays, women in the Amethyst treatment program attend 9am community meetings, which include all members of the Amethyst community. This is a time to express gratitude, offer words of encouragement, and/or seek help and information from peers and staff. Following this, a 12-step meeting is chaired by one client. In addition to the 12-step meetings, women take turns finding leads and guest speakers to present. For example, Capital University Law School’s Legal Clinic has come to talk about expungement and owners of a therapy farm have visited. “It’s a whole host of experts out in the community in any given field,” says Hess. After that, clients are split into groups oriented around trauma and parenting.

The Amethyst program provides services for both women and children. The Family and Children’s Team are dedicated to helping moms manage their children and care for their needs so the children are happy and healthy. Clients’ school-age children are transported to afterschool programs, which are free of charge, so that mothers can focus on treatment. The SummerQuest program provides kids aged K-12 the opportunity to come to a specialized summer day camp at the Amethyst program and participate in fun and outdoor activities. This year, SummerQuest kicked off on May 31, 2019. Campers go to places like pools, COSI, and the Columbus Zoo. SummerQuest aligns with the summer break of Columbus City Schools, and there are additional camp-type programs for children that occur over other breaks in the school year.

SummerQuest, afterschool, and other youth programs not only provide beneficial experiences for children, but also help to ensure that mothers stay focused on their treatment. Case managers assist clients with any needs for appointments or linkages to additional mental health services. Additionally, any type of Individualized Education Program (IEP) and/or specialty services are provided so that children of clients receive all services they would if they were living in the community rather than at the Amethyst program.

Services for children are individualized, so that Amethyst is able to be a one-stop shop for both children and moms. Treatment services are also available for pregnant women, regardless of their stage of pregnancy.

After being discharged, clients enter the “aftercare” phase of the program. During aftercare, clients meet with other recently discharged clients in peer groups, once a week, for 90 minutes.

Following the completion of aftercare, graduates of the Amethyst program can choose to stay in treatment for up to two additional years. “The odds of staying with us and being successfully discharged are very high,” says Hess.

Graduations from the program are special events for the graduates and their family members, as well as the current clients. This year, on June 28th, at the Columbus Foundation, 12 women will be graduating from the Amethyst program, a larger than usual class. Hess herself is very excited. “The most rewarding part of my position as Clinical Director at Amethyst is certainly watching a client moving from active addiction and fearfulness, and coming off of the street, into the light of willingness and wanting to recover, and wanting to be a real contributing member of their community and the society at large.” Seeing families reunite, teaching people how to live as adults in recovery, and helping others overcome addiction is, as Hess puts it, “My most joyful experience on a daily basis.”

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 Call Your Doctor Day

The second Tuesday of each June serves less as a celebratory national day than as a reminder to women all across the country to do one simple task—call their doctor—so they can schedule their well-woman exam. Women are encouraged to schedule a well-woman exam once a year, so their physicians can be on the lookout for any preventative illnesses.

While some may deem it unnecessary to have “National Call Your Doctor Day” for what seems to be a simple task, Bright Pink, a women’s health non-profit, founded this day in 2016 because, statistically-speaking, this reminder is entirely necessary. According to a study published by Health Affairs, in 2016,only 8% of U.S. adults aged 35 and older received all of the high-priority preventative services recommended to them. A ZocDoc survey found that this number is even higher in millennials. Beginning at age 21 and onwards, for women in particular, Planned Parenthood recommends regular pelvic exams, Pap tests, and breast examinations—all of which are included in a well-woman exam.

In our fast-paced, busy lives, work, family, social outings, and most other things take precedence over doctor visits unless we are actually feeling physically ill. It can be easy for routine check-ups to fall to the wayside and become shoved to the back of our minds and the bottom of our to-do lists.

While most of us don’t like being forcedto do anything, National Call Your Doctor Day is designed to help women to put their health first and prioritize future wellness—literally, by creating a scheduled time on the calendar. Women should treat this call like an appointment with a valuable customer. “Observing” this day simply requires setting aside a few minutes to call the doctor, or, alternately, to schedule a visit online.

Alvis values all of the women who are participating in our programs and prioritizes their physical and mental health on a daily basis. Our highly-skilled and caring physicians and counselors are trained to respond to each woman’s needs, so that they, too, may not only combat existing conditions, but prevent the emergence of future conditions. We join women across the world in this call to action to combat the preventative ailments that women face.

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.

Men’s Health Month

Apart from being known for iced tea, longer days, and fun in the sun, June is also Men’s Health Month! Alvis celebrates its male clients and the work they are doing on their journeys through treatment, recovery, and empowerment.

Men’s Health Month seeks to raise awareness of the preventable health concerns and diseases that men face, while simultaneously encouraging early detection and treatment of these diseases. June 11th-17th, leading up to and including Father’s Day, has also been designated as Men’s Health Week internationally.

Dubbed a “silent health crisis,” men tend to “live sicker” and “die younger” than women, according to Dr. David Gremillion, of Men’s Health Network. This is influenced by both physical and mental health issues that men, in particular, face. Men have a higher rate of suicide than women, account for 92% of workplace-related injuries, and are more likely to be uninsured. Across all ages and ethnicities, they are more likely to avoid seeking out help from licensed health professionals when they do have physical or mental illnesses. According to an article by Lea Winerman with the American Psychological Association (APA), this is largely due to the way that our society socializes men. The traditional masculine gender role encourages them to hide emotion, lack vulnerability, and “tough it out.” Winerman quotes Jill Berger, PhD, who finds that this masculine role is akin to the “Marlboro man—tough, ideal, and unemotional—that just isn’t compatible with therapy.”

In Ohio, men lead in death rates from cardiovascular disease, cancer, CLRD, injuries, diabetes, flu/pneumonia, suicide, and kidney disease. While not all of these are preventable, regular check-ups can allow for early detection, which can be life-saving. The more that we raise men’s awareness of the importance of seeking out help, expressing vulnerabilities, and practicing a healthy way of life, the more we will empower men to build successful and productive lives.

The positive message of Men’s Health Month is translated through the actions of the many Alvis clients in programs addressing their justice involvement, behavioral healthcare needs (including addiction), and intellectual/developmental disabilities. It can be especially challenging for anyone to seek help and realize the strength within themselves to embrace a #180DegreeImpact in order to turn their lives around. We applaud our male clients who have transformed their lives and who are reentering our community and living healthy, productive lives, while also empathizing and encouraging those who are on the journey alongside them.

We also thank our staff, physicians, clinicians, and therapists for the work that they do to address and combat the various health concerns and to overcome the stigmas that are common detriments to men’s health and wellbeing.

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 Children’s Day

Happy National Children’s Day! In celebration of children and their futures, this day takes place every second Sunday in June.

National Children’s Day was created by Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1856 as a special day to baptize children, but it has recently evolved as a day to honor all children.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have become staples in American culture, and Children’s Day, which takes place in between both days, serves largely the same purpose. Children’s Day encourages us to take a step back, appreciate our families through a new lens, and realize what (or, rather, who) we are thankful for. For some, this might mean spending a little extra time with their children; for others, it may mean showing love for all of the children in their lives, and the potential and hope that they bring.

Not only is National Children’s Day a welcome means to express how much we value our youth, but it is also needed to spread awareness about the struggles that many children in our nation face. In fact, 3.6 million referrals involving 6.6 million children are made each year to child protection agencies, and a historically high 2.6 million children are homeless in the U.S.—that’s 1 in 30 children.

As a human services agency, employees at Alvis are touched by the challenges of the children and families we serve on a daily basis. One of Alvis’ behavioral healthcare programs, Amethyst, specifically targets needs of children whose mothers are in treatment for co-occurring mental health and addictions disorders at the Amethyst program. These children face their own challenges that are the result of living in uncertainty while their mothers were actively using. Staff at Amethyst offer comprehensive services to children, including counseling, academic support, trauma services, substance use prevention and more.  They are able to receive full access to the same opportunities (and more) that they would if they were living in the community instead of at the Amethyst program. The Amethyst program’s SummerQuest camp, which kicked off its 2019 camp on June 1st, is a prime example of how Amethyst and the mothers in treatment are brightened by the presence of children and it shows the program’s commitment to children’s wellbeing.

On the first Saturday of every month, Alvis has Donuts with Dad, which involves children and their fathers getting together for some fun (and donuts!). Alvis will also be hosting a Father’s Day Picnic at Westgate Park in Columbus to celebrate fathers and their families. Recently, our Mother’s Day celebration provided some heartwarming moments between children and their mothers, as they participated in crafts and went “shopping” for Mother’s Day presents.

Many Alvis clients across multiple types of programs are working hard to reconnect and strengthen relationships with their children.  Research and our experience have shown that children are a powerful source of motivation for clients who are working to turn their lives around and make a #180DegreeImpact for themselves and their loved ones all around them.

Across communities, the faces of children stand out as bringing hope to communities and inspiring all to work toward a better future. Alvis strives to create community in every facet of our programs. We provide tools to help clients to re-engage with their families, neighbors and communities.  While at Alvis, clients form their own communities that encourage growth and focus on each client’s potential rather than on their past. The supportive community we form with our clients helps them on their 180 degree journey to return to their families and communities full of hope and promise rather than addiction and despair.

Our children are vital in forming loving, positive communities. At Alvis, we see children as instrumental in our programs and our commitment is extended to them, whether it is through our services for Families and Children or in the services that are dedicated to directly addressing the needs of the children. We warmly celebrate #NationalChildrensDay, and remain aware and grateful for the children who can look forward to a better future because they have been impacted by programs 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.

SummerQuest’s Kick-Off Recap

Recapping SummerQuest’s Kick-Off

This past Friday, children and mothers joined in festive fun to celebrate the beginning of SummerQuest—an annual summer camp for kids staying at Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program for mothers with children. 

When children arrived, they were given goodie bags filled with trinkets, such as water bottles, sunscreen, and candy. Summer bops filled the sunny afternoon with ambiance, while contests involving ring toss, beanbags, and bubble blowing, encouraged lots of friendly competition. The most popular activities were the face painting station, where moms painted their children’s faces with flowers, butterflies, and other colorful designs, and the bounce castle, where children adventured under the watchful eyes of their mothers and staff. 

The children were visibly ecstatic to be at there. When asked about her favorite part of SummerQuest, returning camper, Rylee, said “seeing all my friends.” This was echoed by many other children as well, and noted by their mothers. For mom, Cierra Baker, this was her first SummerQuest. As a mother, she is currently a client in the Amethyst recovery program. “It just means that my children, while I’m working on myself and in treatment, actually get to have fun and do stuff that normal children get to do during summer, so I think that it’s an amazing thing and I’m really grateful for it.” While this is Baker’s first SummerQuest, another family—mother, Courtney, and daughter, Denise—wearing matching Lilo and Stitch tops, experienced their third and final kick-off. “It’s meant a lot for us…when we’re at SummerQuest, we feel like we’re with family,” highlighted Denise.


Mothers Heather Whaley and Rachel Huddleston found value in the friendships that their kids are able to make at camp. Whaley’s kids are able to “learn social skills” and “be a part of the community,” while Huddleston appreciates it as “a place for them to talk to people” and “learn how to be team players.”

According to Audia Fraley, Clinical Program Manager at the Amethyst program, 40 kids are currently registered for SummerQuest, which is funded by the ADAMH Board. “During the course of the summer, they’ll focus on curriculum that helps boost their self-esteem and  boost their protective factors.”  “I have the fortunate opportunity to work alongside the Child and Family Team,’ said Fraley. “ Without their assistance, this could not have happened.” Like the mothers and children at Amethyst, Fraley finds SummerQuest as a time that encourages coming together. “When I say we came together as a family, we truly came together as a family to support families.”

Heidi Hess, Clinical Director of the Amethyst program, reiterated that SummerQuest serves children aged Kindergarten through 13 years of age.  SummerQuest serves kids who are sporadically visiting family members through the summer  (like grandparents) and  kids who arein treatment with their mothers. SummerQuest is funded by the ADAMH Board of Franklin County, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and private donation so it can be provided at no cost to the  mothers participating in treatment at Amethyst.

As the afternoon progressed, mothers, children, and staff, including Fraley and Hess, quickly congregated to dance the “Cha-Cha Slide” and the “Cupid Shuffle,” proceeding to dissipate just as quickly to get back to the many other activities happening across the back lot. Food included Jersey Mike’s subs, which were generously donated by the Powell location, as well as Rice Krispie treats, chips, juice, water, and soda.

Many kids also showed off their creativity, whether it was through doing the splits on the dancefloor, dying their hair with purple paint, coloring SummerQuest-themed pictures, or creating paper crafts. One camper, Juliana, performed her own solo version of “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, and received cheers of adoration from everyone in attendance.

Near the end of the day, the staff at Amethyst recognized each camper with certificates of appreciation.  This was followed by popsicles, a free-for-all water balloon fight led by the kids, and more dancing—by the end, even the  DJ was dancing!

This is the 2nd SummerQuest for Managing Director of Behavioral Health, Sherry Inskeep. “What I’ve learned about our program,” said Inskeep, “is that it really supports our ladies when they are in treatment. That’s one of the goals of Amethyst…we take away all the barriers so that they have the time to really focus on their treatment.” SummerQuest is a program that prevents added stress that summer could otherwise bring for mothers undergoing behavioral healthcare treatment, while also benefitting children, who learn, grow, and create lasting memories with their Amethyst family. 

Simply put, Inskeep finds that the program is “a lot of fun that every other kid gets an opportunity to do during camp, and so we want to make sure our kids get to do that, too.”

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 Smile Day

You’re never fully dressed without a smile! At the end of this month, on May 31st, join Alvis in celebrating National Smile Day.

As National Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, it is worth considering the positive effects of smiling, and what smiling can do, both for us and the people around us. According to certain studies that have been done on the science of smiling, our smiles (even when forced) are able to reduce stress and increase levels of dopamine in the brain. We naturally smile when our brains are happy, and our brains are happy when we smile. Additionally, smiling is contagious! We’re inclined to mirror the expressions of our friends, illustrating how one smile can truly alter another person’s  entire frame of mind and brighten their day.

Apart from instant mood improvement, smiles actually improve the brain and reduce anxiety levels and blood pressure. Likewise, because smiles are contagious, there’s a likely chance that you’ll be able to make good impressions on other people while simultaneously making them feel good, whether it’s for a job interview, or a coffee date. In fact, the first thing that we notice upon meeting a new person is their smile!

Perhaps most importantly, though, smiling helps make the world a better place. National Smile Day was started by Dr. Tim Stirneman and Jim Wojdyla of Compassionate Dental Care just last year when they wanted to convey the power of a healthy smile to the world. National Smile Day is also the day before National Smile Month—a month dedicated to  spreading happiness and practicing good oral health care—so smiling is sure to continue well into the summer!

Many of Alvis’ clients and alumni  have undergone great struggles, trauma, and hardship. However, Alvis believes that each person’s potential is more important than their past. We strive every day to encourage our clients and their families to find reasons to smile and find joy wherever they are and in  what they imagine for their futures.

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.

SummerQuest Kickoff

SummerQuest Kickoff

The SummerQuest kick-off takes place May 31st from 1-3 PM outside of the Amethyst program’s primary location at 455 E. Mound Street. SummerQuest is a day camp for children whose mothers are in treatment at Amethyst, an Alvis Recovery Program. The camp fosters fun, new experiences for kids, while allowing mothers to focus on their treatment. 
Kick off festivities include: DJ, face painting, picnic foods and a popcorn machine, a bounce house, a craft table, kids’ games, and pictures with the camp mascot, Ace. Food will be donated by the Powell location of Jersey Mike’s Subs (thank you Stephen Inskeep)! 

SummerQuest coincides with summer vacation for Columbus City Schools’ students, so the kick-off takes place on their first day of summer vacation. Open to kids aged K-12, the program is funded by the ADAMH Board of Franklin County, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and private donations. 

If you would like to donate to SummerQuest, click on this link: https://alvis180.org/forms/summerquest-donation/

Kids arrive daily to SummerQuest, where they participate in outdoor activities and take trips to exciting, interactive places like COSI and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, as well as going to summer staples, like swimming pools.
 
All children are divided into appropriate age groups, which each have one counselor and one counselor assistant. Amethyst’s other specialty programs for youth take place during other breaks (such as winter break) in the middle of the school year. These programs allow children to receive similar rewarding experiences, while their mothers continue to progress in their recovery. Mothers receive peace of mind, knowing that their kids are in a safe environment. SummerQuest also gives kids the opportunity to make friendships and enjoy the fun of the summer alongside peers who’ve had similar experiences. 

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.

Alvis Volunteer Spotlight: Rosemarie Geahart

As we continue celebrating National Volunteer Month, we did a series of Q&A sessions with Alvis volunteers. Read on..

Why Alvis? 

My introduction to Alvis was through a sewing group I belonged to about 18 years ago.  One of the women in the sewing group was familiar with Alvis and through her we learned that the ladies of Alvis could use hats and scarves so we made 35-40 sets of hats and scarves for several Christmases. Once our group disbanded, I continued to support Alvis via monetary contributions through work.

I retired in January 2016 and once I had settled in to retirement, I began looking for a way to give time as well as money. I was present at the Martha meeting in 2018 when Alvis gave their presentation. I had previously had contact with Paige so I reintroduced myself to her and asked about volunteer opportunities. I filled out the application, was background checked and here I am.

What is the impact you can make? 

Sewing has been a hobby of mine since I was very young and over the years it has given me a sense of accomplishment as I completed projects. I have learned many skills over the years, not only actual sewing techniques but also intangible skills like problem solving, patience, seeing a project through to the end and the self-confidence to succeed at something. My hope is that through the crafting classes, the ladies can develop a sense of accomplishment in the completion of a project that they can then take and apply to bigger projects or other areas of their lives.

Importance of volunteer work for the community? 

We are all in this world together. Sometimes someone needs a helping hand to give him/her the opportunity to succeed.

Any memorable moment you experienced while working as a volunteer at Alvis that you could share?

My favorite part of the crafting class is seeing how creative the ladies are. Basically, I just provide the raw materials and some basic instructions. They have created some of the most beautiful necklaces, pins, jewelry bags and hats/scarves. The joy I see in their faces when they have created something beautiful for themselves or a loved one just reinforces that I am in the right place.

Any message you want to send to donors? clients? staff? community?

Working with the ladies of Alvis has been a very rewarding and wonderful learning experience for me. I would recommend volunteering to those who might be interested in sharing their expertise or gifts in helping support someone on their path forward.

Thank you Rosemarie! We appreciate all you do for Alvis and the community as a whole!

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.

Alvis’ Volunteer Spotlight: Kevin Maas

Q&A Session Celebrating National Volunteer Month #NVM

Why Alvis? 

  • I was drawn to Alvis after my company sponsored the organization as our quarterly non-profit group. I met with Molly shortly after to discuss volunteer opportunities and knew from the get go that Alvis’ mission was one that resonated with me. I love that Alvis is an organization that gives their clients the resources they need to live up the their God given potential. I firmly believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their socioeconomic status or the mistakes they have made in their past. Alvis gives their clients the resources and tools they need to succeed and thrive after they have served their time.

What is the impact you can make? 

  • Tutoring Math allows Alvis clients to get one on one or small group attention. The impact of this individual attention can mean the difference between a pass and fail on their GED tests. I leave tutoring every Thursday knowing if I helped them understand just one problem on the exam that it could make the difference between a pass and a fail. A pass opens a whole new set of opportunities for them that will inevitably better their lives. For me, the chance to impact clients by helping them open new doors in their life is the single most rewarding experience I’ve had as a volunteer at any organization.

Importance of volunteer work for the community? 

  • Volunteer work is especially important because it helps us build up the communities in which we live. The old saying goes, a rising tide raises all boats. It’s our duty as members of the Columbus community to do what we can to make sure the rising tide is raising all boats. Our Columbus community is what we make it, and by giving back we can make a huge difference in the lives of our fellow Ohioans. 

Any memorable moment you experienced while working as a volunteer at Alvis that you can share?

  • To be honest every tutoring session is memorable for me. It reminds me that despite a national climate that seems to try to divide us by gender or race or socioeconomic status, we have so much more in common than we do different. We might be doing math problems, but in between we talk about what’s going on in our lives, joke, smile, and laugh. Those small moments are what make my volunteer time special.

Any message you want to send to donors? clients? staff? community?

  • I’ve probably never appropriately praised the staff for all the hard work they do. It’s those folks that do the thankless work day in and day out, so thank you!

Thank you for all you do Kevin!! We all appreciate you!!

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Spotlight


Trip to NY City to see the Yankees

Since March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we wanted to enter spring with a celebration of those in this community both within Alvis and across the nation. This month of awareness first began in 1987 with President Ronald Reagan; in the ‘70s and ‘80s, our country went through a deinstitutionalization movement that promoted great social change, prompting Americans to provide those with developmental disabilities with the resources for success. Today, over 5 million Americans are estimated to have a developmental disability and this term, as defined by the DD Act, refers to a “severe, chronic disability that occurs before an individual is 22 that is likely to continue indefinitely, and results in substantial functional limitations in three or more areas of major life activity” (NACDD). These areas include self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. These conditions typically require the individual to live with assistance, and we commend those who are a part of this community for seeking out the support they need to succeed. 

Though there may be some stigma still surrounding those in the DD community, we at Alvis feel that it is time to blow this stigma out of the water. Through a variety of programs and resources, those in this community are now more equipped than ever to lead healthy lifestyles. Living with developmental disabilities is never a one-size-fits-all experience. Conditions that qualify as a DD can include autism, muscular dystrophy, learning disorders, attention deficit disorder, and many more. You can learn more about these conditions here

This week, we were fortunate to speak with our Managing Director of Developmental Disability services, Sandra Allen. Sandy has been with Alvis for ten years and has used her background in mental health and disability services to work with clients in the Columbus DD community. Through our supported living services to our intermediate care facilities to our Behavior Support Unit, we here at Alvis are committed to improving the lives of those through behavior-based programs so they can become integrated with the community. Our intermediate care facility currently serves 15 individuals and is aimed at equipping clients with the skills and resources to live in the community in a less restrictive environment. This program is based on skill building and has a cognitive focus. Being able to change the thought processes of our clients is the first step to them being able to live a more free, positive lifestyle. From therapy to finance management to medication regulations, our Alvis professionals are there every step of the way. Our supported living program currently serves 44 individuals, and it gives those who are a part of the DD community the ability to live on their own while receiving guidance from our qualified team of DD professionals. We have a couple of individuals in these programs pursuing a college degree, while some are working to receive a GED.  

#DDAwareness19

Though these programs, we have seen our clients hit huge milestones; whether they are riding the bus alone, holding a steady job, or becoming involved in romantic relationships, we are so thankful that we could be a part of their journey to success. In the future, Sandy would love to have volunteers become involved with these programs to help Alvis clients expand their skillsets and add to their activity options. If you or anyone you know might be interested in volunteering to help our DD clients, please contact our Intern and Volunteer Manager at Margaret.Seguin@alvis180.org! 

To be a successful DD professional, Sandy says that those in the field should be dedicated to caring about their clients and be invested in their success. Since this is not the most “cookie cutter” situation, she says that you have to be empathetic to their struggles and be willing to learn how we can make it better for them and the community. The end goal of all DD professionals is to help their clients create a life that they truly want to live and will have fun living. It is extremely important that they invest in their future and that we find out what motivates them. Through a multitude of events like the Harmony Project, Special Olympics, Bingo Night, bible study, and excursions all over the country; our DD professionals are sure to help our clients celebrate their successes, no matter how big or small. They see our clients as family. As Sandy said, “We need to work ourselves out of the job, we want to serve others that need us and celebrate those that don’t  need us anymore”. We thank those like Sandy in this field for all that they do, and celebrate those in the DD community for their commitment to their mission towards a better life.  

The Harmony Project

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

Mentoring Month Spotlight: The Whats and Whens of Having a Mentor


Whether you are a young student looking for guidance or an established adult in search of the same, using a mentor can provide inspiration and a safe space for you to grow without judgement. Though mentors can be used in a variety of different settings, their central function is essentially the same: to guide you to becoming your best self through a strong partnership. If this sounds like something you may need, you may be wondering where to find a mentor. These guides can be found in anyone you identify with in relation to your current struggles, from hardships in the office to battles with addiction. It is extremely important for these advising minds to cultivate positive relationships with their mentee, and for them to be friendly, knowledgeable, and committed to their success. According to Mentor.com, young, at-risk adults who have had mentors are 55% more likely to enroll in college and 78% more likely to be regular volunteers. Of those with mentors, 90% were interested in also becoming a mentor and 130% are more likely to hold leadership positions. Having more than one mentor can be beneficial to provide guidance in multiple facets of life; and this mentorship can be crucial to one’s personal improvements.

Now that we know a little bit about mentorship and its general importance, let’s examine what exactly these mentors do. In short, they generously lend their knowledge, wisdom, insight, and counsel to those experiencing challenges that the mentor is familiar with. The invaluable skills and lessons they teach can greatly alter the journeys of those they are helping, and they generally are able to see areas in their mentee’s lives where there is room for some sort of improvement. They function to offer helpful encouragement, keep the spark, and push for confidence from their mentees. They also commonly create reasonable boundaries and goals for their mentees as they have typically been in their shoes at one point or another. They have the experience to ensure that the mistakes made in the past will not be made again, shifting the mentee’s focus on how to prioritize and formulate strategies surrounding their growth. This can facilitate positive personal advancement, giving the mentor and mentee both a chance to celebrate their achievements.

So, when do people use mentors? Whenever they need outside direction! You may have already had someone like this in your life without even realizing their impact, whether it be a family member, teacher, or professional colleague. Many people use mentors when they are confronted with an unfamiliar situation that seems impossible to navigate on their own. Business people in new positions, students needing academic guidance, those in recovery needing a pillar of strength, and many others find solace in knowing that mentors are available to them when they feel the challenges they are facing are insurmountable. Stars from Oprah Winfrey to Clint Eastwood have even spoken fondly of their times with mentors, and claim that encouragement from these sources early in their lives contributed immensely to their long-term success. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, you have many options regardless of your age, lifestyle, or profession.

After speaking to Harry Cox, who has experience in the mentoring community, it is evident why the practice is so important to both these guiding hands and those they are advising. He works with three separate mentorship companies, including working with first generation college students as well as working with his nonprofit benefitting the elderly. He ultimately helps thousands of people annually through mentorship opportunities. He meets with people daily and with groups of up to 16 individuals for him to support. Getting his mentees to open up “their can of worms,” be comfortable, and be willing to work with him is crucial to their growth. He is so dedicated to their success that offers his resources to his mentees as often as necessary. He himself was brought through Alvis following release from incarceration and credits a mentor from an Alvis program as being crucial in helping him to completely change his life. His mentor told him that you need to be able to separate your wants from your needs and he challenged him to find 90 organizations in 90 days to support those needs. Since then, Harry has used these resources to obtain his Master’s Degree and various other certifications. He credits his mentor with his great success today.

With those seeking peer mentorship following to incarceration, it is important for their mentors to be aware of the trauma associated with this experience.  In order to reach self-actualization, he says, “Mentors need to help them become resilient.” Mentors should look at their personal experiences and how they directly relate to their mentees, showing how they can overcome barriers based upon the way they personally worked through them. To Harry, mentorship is putting away personal vices in order to help a person ultimately get where they intend to go. It is about individuals and dedication to fulfilling their needs. Harry also feels that mentors can be any age because wisdom and knowledge knows no bounds.  He believes a person can learn just as much from a 15-year-old as they could from an 80-year-old.

No one should feel ashamed about seeking outside help through mentors or through other types of supportive programming.  At Alvis, we encourage everyone at any stage of life to care for their personal, mental, and professional health in the most efficient way that their lifestyle permits. We celebrate mentors for all that they do, and praise those aware enough of their own struggles for reaching out and utilizing this great resource.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 51 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

Human Trafficking Awareness: Things to Know

Dana Jackson, CHAT Clinical Program Manager

In a time where enslaving another person for one’s benefit or profit seems like an outdated practice, it is important for us to be aware that this convention is still alive and prevalent in today’s society. Human trafficking is very much a thing of the present as billions of dollars are being made from the trapping of millions of innocent people around the globe. These traffickers use a variety of fear inducing tactics in order to force those in their possession to provide services against their will; these services can include anything from sex acts to involuntary servitude. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, 75% of which are women and girls. Of this 40 million, 81% of them are trapped in forced labor, with 25% of them being children. In a 2017 analysis, it was found that around 1 out of 7 of runaways who were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely victims of human trafficking.

Human trafficking isn’t something that takes place oversees or in big cities like New York or Las Vegas. Here in Ohio, we are ranked fourth in the nation for human trafficking cases. This startling statistic means that human trafficking in Ohio is more prevalent than in some of our biggest population centers. Ohio is home to some of the most visible and dramatic human trafficking cases in this century, such as the three women who were held captive for more than a decade in Cleveland. It is estimated that 1078 children are trafficked in Ohio every year.  The most common age of children who are reported as victims of trafficking is just 13.  Children who were sexually or mentally abused in their homes are at a higher risk of becoming trapped in the nightmare of human trafficking, and 91% of female victims experience this type of abuse prior to their abductions. Though we may be familiar with cases like those which occurred in Cleveland or Ashland County over the past decade, for the most part, human trafficking is a hidden crime. Fortunately, in both Ohio and around the globe, there are some amazing resources to help victims of human trafficking reclaim their lives. .

The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a great way for victims and survivors to receive around the clock support, and acts as a resource for advocates to continue doing work in the anti-trafficking community. Their website offers a variety of services, and even allows victims or those aware of any type of abuse to report crimes online or by phone. Their website has multiple support options for those all over the United States, and provides specific information on what services are available right here in Ohio.

Here at Alvis, we are so thankful for the opportunity to be able to help some of these victims through our CHAT (Changing Habits, Attitudes and Thoughts) program. CHAT has been giving women the chance to recover with ample support since 2013.  The program combines safe and secure housing with comprehensive treatment for trauma and individual and group counseling.  Program participants can also take part in job skills and certification training programs that build skills, independence and confidence. Dana Jackson, CHAT Clinical Program Manager, told us of many great therapeutic activities that contribute to the positive growth of these women.  They include classes such as jiu-jitsu provided by the Relson Gracie Academy and equine therapy through Reins of Freedom. CHAT also has a variety of partners like Ohio Guidestone, Freedom A La Cart, Mount Carmel CTAP, and Camp Mary Orton that provide other trauma services and professional mentorship opportunities.

The CHAT program is funded by the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County.  Some of the individuals in the CHAT program are referred by Franklin County Municipal Judge Paul M. Herbert, who holds almost legendary status among individuals and organizations who are working to extinguish human trafficking. Judge Herbert has worked tirelessly to change the stigma surrounding human trafficking in Ohio. He created the state’s only specialty court designed to address the needs of human trafficking victims and help them to begin new, transformed lives. His CATCH Court, formally known as the Changing Actions to Change Habits Court, aims to shift the paradigm between human trafficking and prostitution. This means that rather than seeing women who were convicted of solicitation as a result of sex trafficking as criminals, they should be seen as victims who need the proper support to successfully transition to a life free of substance abuse, mental and physical abuse, and crime.

CATCH Court takes place every Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. During that time, women are in a safe space and can celebrate their wins and work within a supportive community that is dedicated to their success and prosperity. Alvis celebrates this advocacy so close to our home base and we know that with the effort these women put in comes great rewards and success.

Judge Paul M. Herbert and a client celebrating her 1 year of sobriety at CATCH Court

Want to check how much do you know about the CHAT Program? Click it here: https://www.tryinteract.com/share/quiz/5c4934e7909b82001409e9ff

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 51 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

Addiction catches up to Jamie

December 18, 2018

Addiction catches up to Jamie

Growing up in an unstable home, Jamie developed an addiction to drugs as a way to cope with her pain. Her addiction caught up with her when she was pulled over with drugs in her car. 

“It was the first time I’d been in trouble. First felony,” says Jamie.  Her 5 year old daughter was also in the car when she got stopped, resulting in her daughter’s immediate placement into foster care.  Jamie was left feeling helpless and hopeless.  

It became a turning point for her and it was the beginning of Alvis’ 180 degree impact on Jamie’s life.  Because when she went to court, the judge said that Jamie could go to the Alvis program and complete treatment as an alternative to going to prison.

Jamie arrived at Alvis in July of 2018.  Over the next four months, she participated in treatment services, trauma counseling, workforce development programming and more.  Along with her two older daughters who were living with other family members, Jamie also completed the Family and Children’s Program.  This is a specialized treatment program that helps to reconnect, rebuild and strengthen families torn apart by addiction and justice involvement. 

The stable living environment that Alvis provided her and the counseling and support she received from staff turned out to be the change Jamie needed.  “I completed all programming in four months,” said Jamie.  Alvis also helped to connect her to sober housing that is close to her family in Wooster, so that when she was discharged from Alvis, she still had support for her new way of life.

Jamie’s story isn’t complete yet, but because of Alvis and her commitment to sober living, the odds for success are in her favor. She is working to regain custody of her youngest daughter, has secured employment, and has a whole new outlook on life.

Alvis was able to help Jamie change her story thanks to the investment of others in our programs and services.  You can join them and help to change one more story before the end of the year.  Please consider donating to Alvis today and giving one more person the tools they need to turn their life around by 180 degrees.

The Basics are a BIG Deal


Give to Alvis’ Back To School Backpack Drive

The Basics are a BIG Deal

Education or Incarceration. Which would you choose?

CLICK HERE TO GIVE TODAY!

Education is the single most effective weapon against incarceration. Sadly, as the new school year approaches, as many as 700 children of Alvis clients face a tremendous obstacle to their education. They lack basic tools to achieve their full potential.

You can help remove this obstacle by providing a child with a new backpack full of school supplies. These basic tools are the fundamental first step to improving their chances for success.

A donation of $30, $60, or $150 is all it takes to choose education and change a life.

Education is the most effective weapon against incarceration. Give to the Alvis Back To School Backpack Drive

You can break the cycle. Studies have proven that when kids have school supplies of their own, classroom behavior and grades improve, self-esteem strengthens and kids develop better attitudes toward school and learning. Transforming not just their own lives but changing the pattern in their families and communities.  

Your donation will give children a chance to start the school year better prepared. Thank you in advance for giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Tracy Kirby: An Alvis Success Story

May 21, 2018

“Change is possible” is the message Tracy Kirby lives by every day.

Tracy Kirby: An Alvis Success Story

Tracy was told that change is possible, but he didn’t believe it until he had been sentenced to prison, served nine years, and found his faith again. Then, he emerged a new man.  Growing up in the multicultural streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a single parent house hold, Tracy found ways in which he could be a kid despite his environment.  “Kids forget to be kids” and holding onto those memories of just being a kid is an important value that to this day he instills in his own family. 

Tracy’s grandparents were major influences in his life and helped shape him into the man he is.   Both were heavily involved in church. His grandfather was a minister and his grandmother was a Sunday school teacher.  They taught him how to appreciate everything he had and to respect his elders. The “old school principles” eventually came back to him after witnessing the death of a fellow inmate.  “You don’t want to be like this,” filled Tracy’s thoughts.  Then, he began looking deeper into reasons that led to his incarceration.  He had always resented his absent father but ultimately came to the realization that, “He didn’t put me in prison, I put me in here.  Everyone is struggling and trying to get it right.”  For Tracy, like many others, the process of reentry into the community began by addressing the underlying internal issues. As thoughts and behaviors change, external changes will follow.  While incarcerated, Tracy completed 30 different programs. In doing so, he was able to reduce his sentence by two years. More importantly, he learned new ways of doing things and new skills for living.   

Tracy came to Alvis on July 3, 2010 and said, “It was the happiest day of my life.  Alvis gave me my life back.”  He learned how to be accountable for his actions, he practiced humility, and he took to heart the importance of time management.  The support he received from the staff and from his case manager, Joy Greer, was particularly inspirational and helped Tracy to believe, “Change is possible.”  He also came to believe that in order to get to the top, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up.  After Tracy’s first week at Alvis, he began working as a dishwasher at Bob Evans.  Tracy has found that being honest about his past has been a big factor in his employment success.  “Having a felony doesn’t limit your opportunities, if you have the right attitude.”  With the help of his case manager, Tracy also became one of the first Alvis clients to get married while still in treatment. 

Today, Tracy works as a chef at Coopers Hawk and is a motivational speaker for others who are struggling with addiction and reentry.   Tracy credits his success to his recommitment to God and everyone who supported him.  He is especially grateful to his wife Angela; his four children, Michael, Destiny, Kelly and Ashanti; and his grandchildren, Dariana and Kaveion.  “Them giving me love, allowed me to love back,” said Tracy.  “They have played a huge role in my recovery and new life.” 

Tracy Kirby is a living testament to the fact that by changing internally, external changes will follow. Reentry can be difficult, but it is not a road anyone has to travel alone. For Tracy, Alvis and its caring staff provided the tools and support he needed to begin doing the work to turn his life around.

Molly Rapp, Communications Intern, is the primary author of this article.

In Celebration of Reentry Week: How Alvis is helping individuals overcome their past justice involvement

April 25, 2018

Effective reentry is essential for safer, thriving communities

In Celebration of Reentry Week: How Alvis is helping individuals overcome their past justice involvement

In the United States, roughly 1.7 million people are currently in state and federal prisons.  Millions more are on probation, on parole, or are cycling through local jail systems. More than 95% of all the individuals in jail or prison will return to the community.  Life after prison is an enormous challenge:  justice involvement impacts the likelihood of being hired, being able to get housing, and much more. Reentry programs (or lack thereof) make the difference between a person successfully transitioning back to the community as a law-abiding citizen or committing a new crime and reenters the justice system.

Effective reentry programs, like Alvis, use evidence-informed practices to provide support and to work with individuals and get to the root of why they became involved in the justice system. In a majority of cases, justice involved individuals need treatment services to turn their lives around. More than 80% of justice-involved individuals have substance abuse treatment needs and about 40% have mental health treatment needs.

Therefore, Alvis provides a range of treatment programs. Based on each client’s assessed needs, we create a program plan designed to address individualized needs and help that individual to turn his/her life around.  Research has shown that by changing the way our clients think, how they address problems, and to have healthy relationships, our clients will be able to lead more successful lives.

Effective reentry programs are essential in building safer, thriving communities. Each time a person returns to prison, the result is devastating – and not just for that person.  It costs our society an estimated $118,000.**  In addition, each person with justice involvement has a family and lives in a community that will be affected by the loss of  that person’s contributions to their family and community.  

Children are some of the most invisible victims of a parent’s justice involvement.   “Losing a parent to justice involvement is different and more difficult for children than it is to lose a parent to divorce or even death,” says Denise Robinson, Alvis President and CEO.  “People are empathetic when a child’s parents are going through a divorce. School counselors will reach out to a child whose parent passed away. A child whose parent is justice involved has the same emotional shock as a child who has been separated from a parent for other reasons, but they are also ashamed and isolated.” 

So in addition to the programming Alvis provides for individuals, we also have a Family and Children’s Program.  This program helps reconnect families through educational parenting and coping classes to help rebuild the relationship between the parent and the children.

The people Alvis serves are some of the most vulnerable and misunderstood citizens among us.  Our clients cannot will away or punish away their addiction or their disability any more than a person can will away heart disease.  But with the right tools, they can change the direction of their lives toward a bright future. 

Alvis is proud to have a range of evidence-informed and data-driven reentry programs which address individual, family and community challenges.  Most importantly, our programs are effective: Three years after completing our residential program, 79% of our clients were successful in staying out of the criminal justice system.  This compares to a national success rate of just 56%. 

Circumstances bring people to Alvis. It is our mission and purpose to make a 180 degree impact on their lives, so they leave Alvis with the knowledge and tools they need to create a successful future for themselves, their families and our entire community. 

Notes:

**An Illinois study determined that victimization, system, and economic costs average $118,746 per instance of recidivism.  The full report is available at: http://www.icjia.state.il.us/spac/pdf/Illinois_Results_First_1015.pdf

Rev. Foster, whose picture accompanies this article,was profiled in an earlier Alvis Blog.  Click here to read it.

Gloria Iannucci, Sr. Director, Communications, and Molly Rapp, Communications Intern, are the authors of this blog post.

Shannon’s Alvis story

Shannon, a self-described soccer mom, was just trying to be the perfect mother.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on “Life at Alvis” in March 2018, shortly after Shannon completed the Alvis program. Now, over a year later, Shannon continues to live in recovery and her life, while still not perfect, is full and fulfilling for her and her family.

Shannon's Alvis story

Shannon and Phillip have been together since high school.  In the 16 years they’ve been together, they’ve had three children, ages 14, 13 and 10.  Shannon is a self-described soccer mom who was trying to be perfect for her children, each of whom is involved in multiple sports and other activities.  She and Phillip worked full time, but most of the childcare and transportation of the kids to their activities fell to Shannon.

It became harder and harder to keep up with everything, so Shannon started taking Ritalin and Adderall to give her extra energy.  In 2014, her best friend was diagnosed with cancer and passed away shortly thereafter.  In 2016, her mother died after a brief and intense illness. In response to these losses, Shannon began using the Percocet she had been prescribed for back pain to numb her emotional pain so she could keep going and “be there” for her children. 

Shannon never used anything other than prescription pills, so she said she didn’t feel like an addict. But things spiraled out of control and in the fall of 2016, she was arrested and charged with having unlawful prescriptions in her car.  She was sentenced to 14 days in jail and three years of probation.  While on probation, she was unable to leave the pills alone.  Shannon’s addiction had convinced her it wasn’t that bad and she was a better mother with pills.  She said one set of pills gave her the energy she needed to work and take her kids to up to four different activities a night and the other set helped Shannon to keep her emotional pain at bay and prevent her kids from seeing her grief and sadness.

While on supervision, Shannon tested positive for drugs and as a result, she went to prison.  Shannon says that day will be etched in her mind forever as the day she “was ripped out of my kids’ lives.” She also felt certain that it was the end of her relationship with Phillip.

Instead, that day became a turning point.  Phillip didn’t leave. He stepped in and became a single father. He and Shannon worked together to ensure their children didn’t suffer as a result of her absence. Shannon actively participated in programs in prison to address her addiction and the pressures she put on herself to be a perfect mother.

After prison, Shannon transitioned to Alvis, participated in a transitional treatment program that consists of substance abuse treatment, cognitive behavioral treatment, parenting education, workforce development and other services that have been proven to reduce the risk that Shannon will return to the justice system.  Shannon, Phillip and their children also completed the Alvis Family and Children’s program.  This is a specialized program designed to help families heal from the trauma that results from having a parent in the justice system.

“I know my kids were impacted by my behavior,” says Shannon.  “Before, I was there but not there. Sometimes I couldn’t remember conversations and I would nod off. I was late to some of their events because I was getting pills.”  As a result of her time at Alvis, Shannon came to realize that even though her kids didn’t show it, they were hurt and needed their own time and counseling to heal.  Alvis made sure her children got the help they needed, too.

Shannon is grateful for her new perspective.  “I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect. I wrapped my whole life around my kids,” she says. “I hated asking for help back then.  But today I know Phillip is my partner and I don’t have to do everything on my own.”

The time Shannon spent in the justice system was the longest time she had ever been away from her kids. She is determined never be separated from them like that ever again. She took the things she learned at Alvis with her.  “I know I have a lot of making up to do,” says Shannon. “But I also need to make a life for myself so the kids aren’t my whole world. That’s healthy for all of us.”

Thanks to Alvis, Shannon and her family have a bright future ahead of them. It won’t be perfect – but today, Shannon knows that’s okay.

Your support of the Alvis Family and Children’s Program makes stories like Shannon’s have a happy ending.  Thank you.

Gloria Iannucci, Sr. Director, Communications, is the author of this blog post.

Why Alvis matters to me

January 22, 2018

“After a great experience, we wanted to keep volunteering with Alvis.”

Why Alvis matters to me

Lori Robinson-Terry, Insurance/Risk Manager at M/I Homes, has been a volunteer at Alvis for about five years.  She first came to know the agency when, as a new employee at M/I Homes, she was part of a group planning to participate in United Way of Central Ohio’s “Community Care Day,” (now called the Columbus Volunteer Challenge).  Lori and her group came across a project at Alvis to help paint the interior of one of our supported living homes for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD). None of them had heard of Alvis before but the project sounded interesting and like a good group project.

After meeting some Alvis clients and hearing about the agency’s work to turn lives around, Lori and other members of the M/I team decided they wanted to do more with Alvis. During that same year, M/I  was looking for a new “Holiday Cheer” recipient and decided to sponsor the holiday events for all of Alvis’ clients in our DD Services Division.  Working with individual gift lists that included such items a CD player alongside of less traditional items like an unabridged dictionary, the group purchased gifts, helped to fill stockings and volunteered at the party.

In January, a group of DD clients came to M/I to personally thank all of the staff who had contributed to such a great holiday. The client’s energy and enthusiasm was contagious and from that day on, M/I was hooked on helping Alvis clients and began looking for additional ways to become involved.

As the new head of the Employee Activity Committee at M/I Homes, Lori wanted to make the Holiday Cheer program an even bigger event. Lori also was looking for opportunities that provided a personal connection to the people in the program. “Alvis isn’t a big name,” said Lori.  “It’s not an agency that you see on billboard and know is getting a lot of stuff, so for us, it provides a more desirable experience to work with a nonprofit that we can touch and feel.”

In 2014, Alvis began a new program to help parents and children rebuild relationships that have been broken apart by addiction and justice involvement.  Lori and the rest of the M/I team wanted to get in on the ground floor of working with this new program, so they decided to make the Alvis Family and Children’s Program the annual beneficiary of their Holiday Cheer program. Each year, M/I’s involvement in the Family and Children’s Program has grown. For Holiday Cheer, Alvis families are sponsored by one of M/I’s departments. This helps to build the personal connection between one department and one family.  Kids are asked to make a list of one need, one book and one want and mothers also make a list of needs.

In 2017, 52 kids and their families in the Alvis Family and Children’s program were overwhelmed with gifts that surpassed their lists and even their dreams. But the Holiday Cheer program is more than just gifts – it also provides hope and a second chance to become a family again. Each year, M/I volunteers also came to the party to celebrate with families and bring a professional photographer so families will have a happy holiday memory keepsake.

M/I staff get a lot out of the experience, too. “I can still remember a little girl who met Santa for the first time.  I will always remember her smile, her excitement, and the hugs for bringing Santa,” said Emily Smith, formerly with M/I and now the Communications Manager for Pelatonia.  “At that moment I knew we were truly doing something to better the lives of others and helping them to make memories with their moms.”

“Every year gets better and better and the kids are so appreciative.  The joy that comes from seeing the look on a child’s face when she gets what she had hoped for can’t be beat,” said Lori.  “The personal connection and the fact that Alvis works with people that have kind of been run over by society keep me volunteering at Alvis.  I share the story of working with the families at Alvis with my family and friends – I love sharing this experience and I could look at the pictures of the kids at the holiday party for hours.”

“Volunteer work is important to everyone,” continued Lori.  “There’s just too much hate and anger around us these days and I think volunteering is a great way to feel better.”  In addition to her volunteer work at Alvis, Lori is also President of the PTA at her daughter’s school. “Parents should be involved in their child’s life and making their community better,” said Lori.  “Children learn by watching what their parents do.”  Lori also brings her daughter with her to volunteer at Alvis so she can see people who have different circumstances and be part of reaching out with a helping hand.

Giving back to those in need, seeing appreciation radiate through their body, and coming to know that all of us are more alike than different is an incredible experience.  It allows people from all walks of life to come together and help to turn lives around. Pelotonia Communications Manager Emily Smith summed it up, saying, “I think we all have times in our lives where we do things we regret, and for these women [at Alvis] to acknowledge that and work to better themselves – I think that speaks volumes.” 

At Alvis, we’re so grateful to people like Lori Robinson-Terry and to companies like M/I Homes, who regularly demonstrate their commitment to turning lives around – by 180 degrees.

For more information about volunteering at Alvis, please contact Margaret “Molly” Seguin by phone at 614.252.8402 or by email here: Margaret.Seguin@alvis180.org.

Alvis clients providing service to the community

December 14, 2017

“Be the Change you wish to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Alvis clients providing service to the community

A community is a population of people who not only support one another, but who take the time to provide services that benefit their environment and everyone living in it. Each person’s home is part of the larger community. For clients living at Alvis, doing community service is part of their transition from justice involvement to becoming a vital part of their home community. Service to the community also provides tangible examples of the steps our clients are taking to change for the better and help to make their community a better place.

So far in 2017, Alvis clients have contributed more than 33,000 hours of community service in Columbus, Chillicothe, Dayton, Lima and Toledo, Ohio.  Our clients participate in a range of community service projects which include: sorting, organizing and wrapping toys for holiday drives; serving meals at shelters; helping as needed at senior centers; picking up litter; stocking food pantries; caring for rescued animals; and even making hats and gloves for babies and children.

“Community service creates a sense of purpose,” says Melanie Hartley, Alvis Regional Director, “It demonstrates just how committed our clients are to making a positive impact in their community.” Knowing that they made a difference in someone else’s life can enhance a client’s motivation to continue making positive changes. 

“When I do service, it makes me feel better and it makes me feel like a part of things,” said Tom P., an Alvis client. “I especially liked helping to wrap gifts for a toy drive this year.  I was in prison last year at this time and being a part of this reminds me how much better it is for me now.”

Hartley also notes that staying busy in and of itself can be helpful for some clients in their drive to keep moving forward.  “Community service can play a huge part in a client’s evolution.  Some of the clients who have come to us with the biggest challenges can be the best volunteers, because they can see the positive difference they are making and it gives their confidence a boost.”

The Alvis program provides clients with the tools to successfully return to the community. As they do community service, the clients are demonstrating that they are capable of changing their lifestyles.  Giving back to the community is a great way for clients to become more involved in their community in a positive way and it demonstrates that they are turning their lives around.

Molly Rapp, Communications Intern, is the primary author of this blog post

Celebrating Success: The Amethyst Graduating Class of 2017

October 27, 2017

A new beginning with a different ending.

Celebrating Success: The Amethyst Graduating Class of 2017

“Nothing is impossible.  The word itself says I’m possible!” Audrey Hepburn

 These inspiring words resonate well with 13 ladies at Amethyst who recently celebrated the completion of all five phases of treatment with a formal graduation on October 20, 2017.  For some, it took longer than others, but all of them came to understand their worth as a result of the Amethyst program, and it kept them pushing forward.

The Amethyst program was established in 1984 and became a part of Alvis in May 2017. Amethyst is a community designed to support a lifetime of recovery through treatment and long term supportive housing for women and their children.  The community that has been built over the last thirty years has been a beacon of hope for women struggling with addiction.  Amethyst shows how important it is to have people who stand behind you when you think you might fall.  Women in the program get to experience the importance of holding onto hope and learning to accept the changes that are going to come in everyone’s life. 

Amethyst makes it clear that everyone in recovery should celebrate how far they’ve come and how strong they have remained.  Positivity and determination can go a long way in supporting recovery from addiction. Beyond that, each client also has the support of their community to ensure they will make it. This support creates the resilience to survive and thrive.  “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” is an African proverb that captures the essence of the program.

Addiction is a disease that cannot be fought alone and Amethyst has built a community of women who respect, support and love one another. Amethyst helps women with substance abuse problems see that they can be happy and deserve a second chance. The 13 women who graduated shared how far they’ve come with current Amethyst clients and how their lives have changed for the better.  The inspiring thing about all of these women is that they never gave up and never stopped fully believing that recovery is worth it. They kept going, no matter how difficult, and became survivors.  In the process, they encouraged current Amethyst clients to stand up and be recognized for all their positive potential and hard work.

In today’s society, we hear a lot about the tragedy of the opiate epidemic, but it is very rare to hear about the successes of people in recovery. If success stories were more common in today’s media, it could help someone who is struggling with substance abuse gather courage to change their life.  Fortunately, there were a lot of success stories to celebrate at the Amethyst Graduation, which will lead to even more success.  It’s because of the Amethyst community that these women are able to see the way out of their previous lives and enter into a lifetime of recovery. Having a group of strong, positive and hopeful women to encourage other women only makes the Amethyst community even stronger.   These women are survivors.  What they thought impossible when they arrived at Amethyst proved to be possible.  By “suiting up and showing up,” they have encouraged other women to keep moving forward toward their own lifetimes of recovery.  

Molly Rapp, Communications Intern, is the primary author of this blog post.

Thanks to you, Alvis clients are changing their lives for the better!

September 29, 2017

Your gift to Alvis is making a BIG IMPACT on our clients.

Thanks to you, Alvis clients are changing their lives for the better!

Your donations empower the STORY OF RECOVERY, like this one:

Devony struggled with addiction for years and is now on her journey to recovery. She and her son are in recovery housing at Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program.  She’s also in college and studying to become a nurse – so she can help others. Stories like this inspire us all to be a part of the change, making the story of recovery IMPACTFUL.

Your donations empower the STORY OF STRONGER FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES, like these: 

Robert is currently at an Alvis residential reeentry program.  As a father of three, he is determined not be separated from his children again. By participating in the BIG GIVE, donations like yours will go to substance abuse treatment, employment skills training, GED assistance, and parenting classes. With your help, we can provide fathers like Robert with the treatment services he needs to be able to truly be a present, prominent, and positive figure in the lives of his three children.

Clyde is a great example of someone who is working hard to ensure his potential is far more meaningful than his past. Clyde is not going to allow the time he spent incarcerated to define his future. Right now, Clyde is working three different jobs at some of Columbus’ finest restaurants. While in Alvis’ Career Pathways Workforce Development Program, Clyde has earned two different employment skills credentials and is now pursuing additional certifications that will increase his value to potential employers. That’s good for Clyde – and it’s good for the employers who will be hiring an individual with a demonstrated drive to succeed.

Daewyne came to Alvis in August 2016 with a criminal record and no expectations. By the time he graduated from the Alvis program in October 2016, he had a job at Jiffy Lube, had earned skills certifications, and was enrolled at Columbus State Community College. He also had outstanding recommendations that reflected his commitment to a new way of life. With the tools and programming offered at Alvis, such as case management, job readiness, resume writing workshops, job placement and retention services, our clients have the ability to turn their lives around 180 degrees. Donations help to fund workforce development programs that lead to living wage jobs that support families and communities.

Kastaisja Harper, Special Events Coordinator, is the primary author of this blog post.

Creating “Lean on Love”

August 21, 2017

Jillian Ober, a program manager at The Ohio State University’s Nisonger Center, helped to connect Tyrelle, an Alvis client, to the Dick & Jane Project so he could collaborate with others and create an original song titled “Lean on Love.”

Creating "Lean on Love"

Tyrelle is one of over 40 clients being served by Alvis programs for individuals with intellectual / developmental disabilities (IDD). Alvis programs promote independence, personal accountability, creativity, community connections and growth. Alvis’ IDD Services programs are equipped with highly skilled, trained professionals and staff who are experienced and who have been successful in working with individuals who have developmental disabilities and behavioral challenges.  Alvis also works closely with numerous other individuals and agencies to help all consumers reach their goals.  

Tyrelle is so proud of the song he helped to create.  Click here to listen to “Lean on Love.”

The Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University has been one of Alvis’ key partners dating back to 1981, when Alvis first began serving the IDD population. The Center’s Friendship Connection promotes social connections and community inclusion for people with IDD through a range of cultural events and experiences.  Participants engage in many facets of culture – from art, music, and literature, to food, sports, and pop culture.  

In addition, many Alvis clients participate in the Nisonger Center’s Next Chapter Book Club and some are also in the Jot It Down writing group.  The Next Chapter Book Club and Jot It Down promote literacy, social interaction, and community inclusion for individuals with IDD.  Book clubs and writing clubs meet weekly in local bookstores, coffee shops, and cafés and are assisted by volunteer facilitators.

Recently, a grant from The Columbus Foundation enabled some participants of the Next Chapter Book Club and Jot It Down writing group to work with the Dick & Jane Project to create an original song. 

The Dick & Jane Project is a Columbus-area nonprofit that hosts collaborative workshops where students are partnered with local musicians and producers to create radio-ready songs. The students write the lyrics and the musicians transform their words into song. In the past, the Dick & Jane Project has only worked with middle school students but the grant allowed them the flexibility to work with a new population.

Tyrelle’s first step was a meeting with his song writing partners to talk about ideas and list songs they already liked. Then they listened to a lot of different types of music.  This was followed by rewriting the lyrics and listening to even more music before working with professional musicians to put together the final cut.  The whole process took about three months and at the end, Tyrelle and his songwriting partners debuted the song, Lean on Love, on WCBE during its Song of the Week radio segment. 

You can hear Lean on Love (track 4) and the other songs created by the partnership between the Next Chapter Book Club, Jot It Down, and the Dick & Jane Project by clicking here: Next Chapter Book Club and Jot It Down 2017.

For more information about the Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University and the wide range of programs and services available, click here: Nisonger

For more information about the Dick & Jane Project, click here:  Dick & Jane

If you’d like to volunteer to work with Alvis clients with IDD or would like more information about volunteering in general at Alvis, please contact Margaret “Molly” Seguin by clicking here: Molly

Gloria Iannucci, Sr. Director, Communications & PR, is the primary author of this blog post.