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.

Independence Day

Independence Day Alvis Blog

Happy Independence Day! Alvis proudly joins Americans in celebrating this holiday.

Alvis’ programs are funded by generous donations from individuals and organizations, but programs also receive government funding from the local, state and federal government. We are grateful for this support, that allows Alvis to facilitate our #180DegreeImpact. As many of our clients are involved with the justice system, these programs also follow government requirements and protocol that allows for a plethora of onsite and outpatient treatment options for clients while still adhering to justice system rules.

The United States still has lots of ground to make up when it comes to prison reform. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website, the U.S. prison population has increased 500% over the past 40 years without any corresponding increase in crime, and nearly 2/3 of America’s inmates are awaiting trial. Perhaps a more staggering statistic: the United States has the highest prison population rate in the world.

Many individuals become involved with the justice system through misdemeanor charges, and while these charges are supposed to be minor in comparison to felonies, their record still clings to individuals, often for the rest of their lives and can hinder potential employment prospects. One move that Congress has made to combat this is the First Step Act, which was passed in 2018.

Under the First Step Act, which is one of the most significant pieces of criminal justice reform in years, mandatory minimum sentences under federal law have been eased, and qualified people, many of whom carry low-level drug offenses, are able to earn “good time credits” in federal prisons. Resulting from this are potentially-reduced prison sentences and opportunities for probation that were not there before. It is also important to note that this act is only applies to the federal system, which is responsible for about 13% of all incarcerated Americans.

The First Step Act is considered a “first step” because there are still many reforms that could be made to reduce recidivism and promote education and employability, but it is a step in the right direction.

Statewide efforts have also been made to reduce the incarceration rate in America, especially in regards to drugs. State rates of incarceration have gone down recently, and some states have reclassified drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors, while other states, including Ohio, have enacted some decriminalization laws regarding drugs, like marijuana. Ohio has a low recidivism rate in comparison to other states. Alvis, which is very advanced in what it provides clients in comparison to some other reentry programs, is one of many programs that receives state funding in the U.S. to provide education and workforce development training.

According to the National Institute of Justice, “More severe punishments do not ‘chasten’ individuals convicted of crimes, and prisons may exacerbate recidivism.” Alvis programs are more effective and less expensive than prison, and in comparison to the national average, Alvis clients are twice as likely to be successful upon returning to the community. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has found that 79% of clients who complete an Alvis residential reentry program do not return to prison!

As we celebrate our country on this July 4th, we also applaud the ways in which reentry programs like Alvis are becoming increasingly recognized as important and vital to our communities.

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

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.