Meet Gage Atkins, Class of 2020

Throughout the years, Alvis has helped the lives of not just individuals, but also families, turn around #180degreeimpact.  

Gage Atkins is an incredible example of breaking the multigenerational cycle of addiction and involvement with the justice system. During his childhood, his father struggled with alcoholism, and his mother and father both struggled with drug addiction. His father passed away when he was younger, and his mother served two sentences in prison. 

As described by Gage, “They were always in and out of my life. My dad wasn’t a big part of my life, and neither was my mom, with her being in and out.” 

Given this, Gage discussed how he would often have to help raise his two younger siblings: 

“When my mom was on drugs real bad, I would have to help take care of my little brother, give him a bath, put him to sleep, feed him, like, help my sister out. And like, I would have to, like, do the dishes, sometimes cook and stuff, so it wasn’t – so, I didn’t really have a childhood.” 

However, Gage does not look back on this time with regret or malice. Instead, he is thankful for the person it led him to become. 

As he said, “It shaped me for who I am today, and I’m grateful for it, because like – if that wasn’t it, I might not be as responsible as I am now, and so… it just shapes me for who I am.” 

Through all this hardship, Gage graduated from high school this year with honors and leadership positions in multiple organizations and also worked towards a license in cosmetology. And not only was Gage able to graduate – his mother was able to be there with him. 

Gage’s Mother, Nikki, has been with Alvis in one of their half house locations for the past 3 months. Nikki says she was determined to make it to Gage’s graduation, and recently, with the help of Alvis, transferred to ankle monitor to be there. 

As Gage said, “I got to walk the stage, my mom got to give me my diploma, which was wonderful.” 

This dedication to be supportive together shows something consistent throughout this family’s story: how strongly they rely upon one another. 

When asked where his strength came from, Gage had a very clear answer: 

“My siblings. Man, like my little brother, my sister, you know, like, I just love the to death. Like, it’s like they’re my kids – and I just want them to have experiences and have things, and you know, get what they want, and have the life that I wanted to have… so if I’m able to do that, then I’m going to.” 

In the same vein, Nikki had just as clear of an answer: 

“Gage reminds me every day how strong I am and how not to, you know, want to go back to that old lifestyle, and he is just there for me, and he is just so strong and so passionate about everything, he is very compassionate in his life, he truly is. I just love him. I couldn’t be more happy – I could not.” 

With each other as their strength, this family continues to grow and heal. With each other’s help, they continue to turn their lives around. 

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.

Recovery Housing at Alvis

An Overview of Three Programs for Women

At Alvis, we’ve been fortunate enough to fuel many programs that focus on recovery for women. Some of these women have a history with substance abuse disorder and/or mental health disorders—many times, these are co-occurring, and may originate from extensive trauma. SHINE (Stable Housing to Inspire, Nurture, and Empower), CHAT (Changing Habits, Attitudes and Thoughts), and Belmar are a few housing options for women that, in addition to Amethyst, provide resources for independent living and re-entry into the community.

The Amethyst program, which many people familiar with Alvis likely know about, is one of Alvis’ two integrated behavioral healthcare programs. A huge factor that makes the Amethyst program distinct from other treatment programs for women is the fact that it allows women to live with their minor children. Amethyst, specifically, works to reunite and strengthen families. Most residences at Amethyst have more than one bedroom, and the program provides services for women and their children. The ways that SHINE, CHAT, and Belmar differ from Amethyst are mainly due to the clients served through these programs and the format in which recovery resources are offered.

SHINE

SHINE is a Level II Recovery House for women that provides 6-12 months of transitional housing. It is open to both women with or without children, like Amethyst. Additionally, these women must have at least 90 days sobriety, stable mental health, and no violent impulses for the last 12 months. Those who have either been diagnosed with opioid use disorder or have a history of opioid overdose have priority consideration for admission.

At SHINE, women work with a Peer Case Manager to maintain sobriety, form stronger familial relationships, receive employment training and assistance entering the workforce, attain financial independence, and transition to a permanent residence. A dedicated caring staff decorates and maintains the living space for families, which features sitting rooms, a kitchen, restrooms, and other typical comforts of home. Up to two single women are housed in one unit (each with her own bedroom) and mothers residing with their children live in single apartments. There is a sliding rent scale based on employment schedule or income, and “move in” packages include living room and bedroom furniture, as well as necessary household supplies. Additional services, like bus passes, utilities, and food assistance is also offered if needed.

CHAT

The CHAT House aims to provide adequate resources to human trafficking survivors, so they may overcome their traumatic experiences and re-enter into society. Many of these women are graduates or participants of the CATCH Court, which was established by Judge Paul Herbert. At the CHAT House, communication is key. Staff is sure to remain transparent and on-call for clients, in case they need to discuss important things. Emergency situations are tackled as a team. 

In the living space itself, much like SHINE, walls are lined with bookshelves and decorated with empowering wall art and words of encouragement. Some of this art is made by clients and Alvis volunteers, who bond and connect through creating arts and crafts.

Belmar

The Belmar House, which recently acquired a Level II Ohio Recovery House certification last July, is a beautiful space managed by a former client. Unlike Amethyst and SHINE, this is a space for women without children. Each client has her own private bedroom, and there are a host of common areas, like a modern kitchen area and multiple sitting rooms. The women at Belmar are very independent and live close to typical everyday lives, which is an end goal for all Alvis clients. They have already shown signs that they can maintain structured schedules and employment. Rent is due on the day they move in, and there are still random drop-ins, house meetings, and walkthroughs every couple of weeks like at SHINE. Clients can stay here for as long as they wish, on the condition that they stay clean and follow house rules.

We’re so excited for our recent developments and programs to come. As we offer more support and resources to our clients, during this especially trying time, we remain hopeful and confident in the ability for our clients to achieve #180DegreeImpacts on themselves and their community.

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.