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.

Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

According to the 2019 World Drug Report, in 2017, an estimated 271 million people across the world had used drugs in the previous year, while 35 million people were estimated to be suffering from drug use disorders. It was also estimated that, globally, there were 585,000 deaths and 42 million years of “healthy” life lost as a result of the use of drugs. For people with drug use disorders, the availability of and access to treatment services remains limited at the global level. Only one in seven people with drug use disorders will receive treatment each year…

Today, Friday, June 26, is International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also known as World Drug Day. This global observance has been supported by individuals, organizations, and communities all over the world since the United Nations resolved it in 1987. See resolution 42/112 here. This year’s theme is “Better Knowledge for Better Care” which strives to emphasize the importance of combating misinformation and educating on the significance of the world drug issue. Why is this significant? The better we can understand this complex issue and how to treat individuals, the better we can care for them and fight against the drug epidemic as a united society. 

Unfortunately, a big misconception about drug addiction is that it is a choice. This causes many individuals, policy makers, and even some service providers to hold the belief that drug disorders are a moral failure and a crime that needs to be punished. However, according to Mountainside Treatment Center, although the initial decision to misuse a substance may be voluntary, it impairs the way the brain functions in the long-term. It is in fact a multi-factorial health issue, “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry,” (The American Society of Addiction Medicine). These disorders are very complex with factors out of the victim’s control such as genetics, mental health, and environmental factors. Not only does Alvis strongly hold this belief but it was also agreed upon by the Member States in the Outcome document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem.

Another myth about addiction is that a victim can quit whenever they want. But as previously mentioned, misusing substances can physically change and critically impact the parts of the brain that deal with judgment, decision-making, learning, memory, and behavior control, (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Willpower by itself is most times not sufficient enough or even safe enough to try to achieve sobriety on ones own. “A person battling a substance abuse problem needs individualized medical and/or clinical treatments, integrative therapies, and mindful practices to restore balance to their life. They also need to develop coping skills and to re-establish support from family, employers, and friends—a crucial part of success in recovery,” (Mountainside Treatment Center). In order to combat the drug issue globally, we all need to change the way we think about drug addiction. To learn more about World Drug Day on the United Nations home page click here. #FactsForSolidarity

There is hope! At Alvis, we offer two judgment free behavioral health and addiction services, one for single women and women with children called Amethyst, and one which is inclusive to both males and females called 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? 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. Also check out our recent post “Recovery Housing at Alvis” to see three specific recovery programs for women called SHINE (Stable Housing to Inspire, Nurture, and Empower), CHAT (Changing Habits, Attitudes and Thoughts), and Belmar.

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.

Men’s Health

Not only is June Men’s Health Month, but today starts Men’s Health Week, which conveniently leads up to Father’s Day.

Health Facts from the Men’s Health Network:

On average, American men live sicker and die younger than American

women.

In 1920, women lived, on average, one year longer than men. Now, men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women.

Women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men.

Cause and RatesMenWomen
Heart Disease210.9131.8
Cancer192.9138.1
Injuries54.727.3
Stroke36.935.6
Suicide20.75.8
HIV/AIDS3.01.1

Depression in men is more likely to be undiagnosed contributing to the fact that men are 4 x as likely to commit suicide.

  • Among ages 15 to 19, boys were 3.1 x as likely as girls to commit suicide.
  • Among ages 20 to 24, males were 4.6 x as likely to commit suicide as females.
  • The suicide rate for persons age 65 and above: men 31.5 – women 5.

Life can be busy and hectic and sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves, but these statistics show why it is critical to keep regularly scheduled checkups and start or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Prevention is important in the early stages. Now is the time to visit with and encourage the men you love to find low cost and free screenings near them, attend health clinics, or start the health program recommended by their physician. It is not too late! Learn more about Men’s Health Week and find resources at menshealthmonth.org

It can also be hard to ask for help…

What Alvis has to offer:

One of Alvis’ behavioral health services is a cognitive-behavioral treatment program called Recovery Choices with skills practice sessions that give individuals the tools they need to improve their decision-making skills, enhance coping abilities and build healthier drug- and alcohol-free lives. The program is certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Professional staff are appropriately licensed as well as experienced in providing treatment services designed to address the complex substance abuse treatment needs of individuals with criminal justice involvement. Ours is a comprehensive program that begins with a thorough assessment, continues with in-depth substance abuse treatment services and the development of a personal relapse prevention plan. Aftercare is a critical part of this program, offering follow-up support and opportunities to put the concepts discussed during the program to practical use in each client’s life. Alvis turns lives around!

Show Your Support!

Also in June, on Friday the 19th, is wear blue day for men’s health. Wear blue to raise awareness for education about men’s need to seek regular checkups, or testicular cancer education, prostate cancer education, or other health issues that affect men including cardiovascular disease, skin cancer, lung cancer, diabetes, gout, depression, addiction, and more.

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.

#MensHealthWeek

Mental Health Essential Heroes

“Mental Health is Essential Health!”

What Alvis Has to Offer…

Alvis offers two behavioral health service programs: Amethyst and Recovery Choices.

Amethyst is our program for women with and without children seeking addiction, mental health, and trauma-related treatment, family services, supportive housing, and job readiness and placement. What makes the Amethyst program distinct from other treatment programs for women is the fact that it allows women to live with their children, and it specifically works to reunite and strengthen families. 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.

Recovery Choices was created to provide behavioral healthcare services to individuals with justice involvement. Clients 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. Behavioral health treatment services include:

· Individualized assessment and treatment

· Group counseling

· Cognitive-behavioral therapy

· Medication-assisted treatment (through a partnership with CompDrug)

· Relapse prevention and aftercare

Women in Alvis’ residential reentry programs and in treatment at Recovery Choices may eventually transition to Amethyst to support their long-term recovery.

Thank you, essential mental health and recovery heroes, for your outstanding 24/7 service and support!

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.

Nationwide’s All Women’s Associate Resource Group (AWARG) Community Impact Team

Joyce, Teri, Stephanie, Kristen, Lisa, Madeleine, Melissa, Margie

Nationwide’s All Women’s Associate Resource Group (AWARG) Community Impact Team volunteers to help women at Alvis

Alvis makes it easy for us to work together and the clients have just oozed gratitude.

It all started when the All Women’s Associate Resource Group (AWARG) Community Impact Team at Nationwide wanted to do a Mother’s Day project about this same time last year. “As a woman-centered group the AWARG wants to uplift, empower and be there for other women,” said Joyce Schott, a member of the group and a Specialist, Technology Analyst at Nationwide. They floated some ideas among themselves which centered on providing feminine hygiene products, since they are necessary and rarely thought of when making donations. The AWARG decided to do a “Pack a Purse” drive. Women from Nationwide donated new and gently used purses as well as hygiene items (shampoo, lotion, candy, body spray, etc.) for the purses. They got an incredible response and were able to pack 110 purses full of items and had some extra purses and items left over.

When deciding where to donate the purses, Joyce remembered hearing about Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program. A program participant had previously spoken at an event and it had really left an impression on her. Knowing that many Amethyst clients were also mothers was meaningful to many AWARG members who, as mothers, could empathize with wanting to be there for your kids. (Amethyst is one of just a few behavioral healthcare treatment programs in which children up to age 18 can live with their mothers while the mother is in treatment.) Joyce contacted Alvis and found the staff was excited, organized and very helpful. Needless to say, the purse donation was very much appreciated by the Amethyst women.

When the holidays came around, Joyce and the AWARG wanted to work with Alvis again. This time they learned about the CHAT program. CHAT is a recovery housing program for women who are in treatment and recovering from substance abuse and involvement in human trafficking. Upon hearing the description of the program and learning that the ladies had no holiday plans, the group immediately decided to adopt the CHAT women for the holidays.

Once again, the women at Nationwide showed up to contribute to women in treatment at Alvis. The AWARG put together bags of goodies containing fuzzy socks, hygiene items, blankets, cups, journals, pens, etc. They also brought items for the house like cards, games, books and art supplies. A group of volunteers delivered the gifts to the CHAT house and had a small party. “It was such a privilege to be invited into their home and share a bit of holiday spirit,” said Joyce. The volunteers and clients worked side by side to decorate cookies and make decorations and other holiday crafts. “The CHAT house gave me goosebumps,” said Joyce. “When we’re volunteering, it makes a huge difference to be able to interact with the people we’re serving, instead of just buying things or doing some project where you don’t see the people the project is intended to help.” The group has also appreciated that they weren’t dropped into a cookie cutter project – they were able to connect to a volunteer opportunity that really spoke to their hearts.

Earlier this year, AWARG Community Impact team sent Valentines to the ladies at the CHAT house. The group of women have also become regulars at volunteering in “Hope’s Closet,” a clothing closet for the women and men at Alvis. “One of the things I love about Alvis is how organized and responsive the staff are. Alvis makes it easy for us to work together and the clients have just oozed gratitude.” The group has also learned a lot more about the disease of addiction and how easily addiction can lead to justice involvement.

On behalf of everyone at Alvis, and especially the women at the CHAT House, thank you!!

Alvis is an award-winner 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.

Alcohol Awareness Month

Today marks the beginning of April! In addition to Easter, Second Chance Month, Volunteer Month, Sexual Assault Prevention Month, Internship Awareness Month, National Month of Counselors and Month of Hope, this month is also known as Alcohol Awareness Month.

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 90% of people with addictions to 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.

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

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

Universal Children’s Day

Happy Universal Children’s Day! UNICEF calls upon us all to wear blue on this day in support of children’s rights, and to sign the petition, which promotes non-negotiable children’s rights everywhere. You can find the petition here.

According to UNICEF, 262 million children and youth are out of school, 650 million girls and women were married before their 18th birthday, and 5.4 million children died from mostly preventable causes before their fifth birthday.

In 190 countries and territories, UNICEF works to help children overcome poverty, violence, disease, and discrimination. More specifically, UNICEF also works to ensure that girls have access to primary education, and children are immunized and protected from preventable illnesses.

This day reminds parents, too, of how important children are as a collective demographic. Much of Alvis’ work revolves around reuniting families and helping clients undergo the necessary recovery care and treatment, so they may connect with their loved ones.

Parents can make a significant impact on their children’s lives, and our Family and Children’s Program has specifically worked to create events like the Smart Cookie Awards for our Summer Reading Program, which encourages academic success for kids whose moms are in one of our 10-week programs. Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program, also allows children, who live in residences with their mothers, to receive care and linkage to necessary to resources as their moms are undergoing recovery. These services include IEPs and other individualized education plans for their learning, healthcare, and wellness—they are also able to partake in the summer camp put on by Amethyst, called SummerQuest.

Alvis joins the rest of the world in universalizing care for children, and prioritizing the issues they face, so that they may have bright, promising futures ahead of them.

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 Mental Health Day

Around the world, today is a very special day: World Mental Health Day! Celebrated on the 10th of October, the World Health Organization stipulates that this day calls attention to raising global awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. Additionally, this day offers the opportunity for organizations working in the realm of mental health the chance to expound on their work and advocate for areas of mental health based on their own findings and experiences.

Alvis offers a host of different mental health services for clients. Our primary departments of care in mental health are located in our community reentry programs, behavioral health programs, and developmental disabilities services. In general, most of our programs offer mental health treatment, even if the program is not specific to behavioral healthcare.

Reentry services for individuals with past justice system involvement include mental healthcare; all treatment plans are highly individualized, aligning with our mission to provide prime person-centered care. Some clients may have struggles with addiction, in addition to potentially needing job training and skill-building workshops. For example, our POWER program, which is specifically designed for individuals with both an addiction and past justice system involvement, offers medically-assisted healthcare and therapy so clients can battle addiction in a supportive community of peers and staff.


Integrated behavioral healthcare services at Alvis include the Amethyst program and Recovery Choices. The Amethyst program specifically serves women with co-occurring behavioral health disorders. Co-occurring, in this context, refers to individuals with both addiction and mental health disorders. Mental health and addiction are, often times, related. The disease of addiction causes depressive syndrome, and often times, it begs the question of which came first. Women at Amethyst are given individualized treatment plans, and receive medically-assisted treatment, along with counseling and group therapy to bring them on the road to recovery. For more information about Amethyst’s model of integrated behavioral healthcare, click here. Recovery Choices similarly provides integrated behavioral healthcare for clients that live in Alvis’ residential locations. Clients receive transportation to reentry locations, where they engage with integrated behavioral healthcare and other treatment needs.

In an interview with Dr. Shively (information can be found here), he also outlines the direction that Alvis is taking in adopting a behavioral healthcare model for virtually all of its programs, and the way that Alvis prioritizes the mental health of its employees, too.

Managing mental health is integral to personal wellbeing, and we are thankful for World Mental Health Day, which gives organizations and resources a platform to impact people worldwide.

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.

We are Alvis


Who We Are

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency serving over 10,000 people in 40+ locations all across the state of Ohio. Our client populations include individuals with justice involvement, significant barriers to employment, developmental disabilities, and integrated behavioral healthcare needs. We also serve families, especially children, impacted by their loved ones’ justice involvement, developmental disability or behavioral healthcare concerns.

Our tagline is 180 Degree Impact, because our aim is to help clients turn around their lives by 180 Degrees. We believe a person’s potential is more important than their past, and we envision a future when communities believe this, too.

Community Reentry

Here at Alvis, individuals with justice involvement are able to go to residential reentry centers, and are offered alcohol and drug addiction treatment, workforce development programs, family and children’s programming, mentoring, and transitional education programs. We also offer services for survivors of human trafficking. Recovery and reentry are two universal goals of our programs, along with education and employability. Every reentry location differs in terms of the services that it offers.

We offer a plethora of services for clients at each of our locations, so clients are able to receive the programming that applies to their specific concerns.

An example of one of these specific services is our POWER (Partnering Organizations for Wellness, Empowerment, and Recovery) Program. The men in this program are undergo recovery from addiction disorders, and they receive holistic, evidence-based treatment, entailing court supervision and support with medication assisted treatment (primarily Vivitrol), counseling, and behavioral therapies. Graduates of the program not only appreciate the newfound hope that they attain, but also the supportive, caring staff who help them on their journeys to recovery. Listen to their stories here.

Many of our clients are involved in multiple different programs at our locations, and sometimes one client will have concerns that require multiple levels of services. One former client, Chris, demonstrates the 180 Degree Impact that clients can make in their lives, and also their communities, as he’s taken advantage of the many different resources that we offer at our Jackson Pike location.

Integrated Behavioral Healthcare

Our Recovery Choices Program provides individualized assessment and treatment, group counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and relapse prevention and aftercare. The Amethyst program, recently acquired by Alvis in 2017, provides integrated behavioral healthcare and housing to women with children in central Ohio who struggle with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. It is one of the few treatment programs for women in the nation that allow moms to live with their minor children, and it specifically works to reunite and strengthen families. Every woman at Amethyst is given a treatment plan, which includes individual and group therapy, counseling, medication-assisted treatment, as well as connections to outside resources, such as job training classes, education courses, legal advice, and weekly community meetings, and other efforts to help women find the path to recovery and reunification with their communities. Children, likewise, are also given proper care and learning plans (such as IEPs) to ensure that they are getting optimal services. SummerQuest is a program designed specifically for children of the moms at Amethyst, and it aims to provide children with a summer camp experience after school lets out, so their mothers can focus on treatment.

Person-Centered & Professional

One commonality across all of our programs is that staff here are dedicated, qualified professionals who truly care about clients. This is evident in the day-to-day interactions that staff, like our encouraging DSPs, provide to our clients with developmental disabilities, and our amazing leadership. Genuine happiness and love is shown between clients and staff at our various celebrations, such as the Amethyst graduation, and the Smart Cookie Awards, which is part of a celebration held in the summer for individuals involved with our Family and Children’s Program. Alvis is mission driven, and our programs are person-centered.

We are leaders. We are innovators. We care. We are 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Integrated Behavioral Healthcare at Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program

Addressing Mental Health Issues

Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program, is 34 years old, and a unique program in central Ohio. With its focus on integrated behavioral healthcare treatment, it is unlike many other treatment and recovery programs, because it focuses on both women and their children. Specifically, the Amethyst program allows children up to age 18 to live with their mothers while the mothers are in treatment. Recently acquired by Alvis in 2017, the Amethyst program shares the same “big picture” vision shared among all Alvis’ programs: it focuses on holistic treatment. 

“Our whole goal is always a lifetime of recovery,” says Heidi Hess, Clinical Director of the Amethyst program. Hess highlights that lots of work at Amethyst is “person-centered” and “trauma informed,” that involves “treating the whole person” through “mental, physical, spiritual, and occupational” means. Part of Hess’ job is reviewing data and best practices to ensure that the program’s curriculum and goals are backed by current research, as the program aims to provide clients with the tools for a lifetime of recovery. While the Amethyst program provides services specificly for children of mothers undergoing treatment, the women at Amethyst each follow highly individualized programs that address to each woman’s needs and solutions. 

One of the first things that a woman does upon her induction into the Amethyst program is meeting with an intake counselor and completing a series of assessments. A woman’s intake counselor will be her first counselor while at Amethyst. Once she is oriented with the program and its services, a typical day involves morning treatment groups centering on substance use disorders, and afternoon treatment groups to address mental health disorders. Specialty treatment groups also meet to address trauma and parenting. All clients are involved in treatment teams, which involves clinical professionals working with the client to talk about plans, goals, concerns, progress, and emerging needs. Treatment, as Hess describes, is “solution focused,” and teams concentrate on what they are doing to keep clients moving forward on the path to recovery. 

Mental Health Recovery 

The Amethyst program specifically treats co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders, and all clients are screened by Dr. Sara McIntosh to determine medical needs, including medication. Integrated behavioral health treatment and the use of psychiatric medication is much more advanced than it was 20-30 years ago, and aids to help treat the disease of addiction. According to Hess, approximately 90% of people who have an addiction also have a current mental health diagnosis. Mental health and addiction are, many times, related. The disease of addiction causes depressive syndrome, and often times, it begs the question of which came first. Either way, Hess stresses that addiction is a diagnosed mental health issue that is treatable. It’s brain chemistry. Medications can help clients stabilize the brain’s chemistry, so that recovery is attainable. 

Specifically at the Amethyst program, most clients do have mental health and addiction treatment needs. They all are involved in mental health treatment groups. In addition to the 

sessions addressing substance abuse in the morning and mental health in the afternoon, women are linked with other community mental health treatment agencies to address additional needs. Case managers assist clients with any needs for appointments or linkage 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. 

As individualized treatment plans change over the course of a client’s time at Amethyst, the treatment does not end after discharge. 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. Aftercare continues for an entire year, and it offers support for dealing with the general challenges of life. Balancing work, school, children, and other potential stressors in early recovery can be extremely difficult. Hess cites research which finds that greater lengths of stays in treatment result in higher rates of successful long-term recovery. Keeping someone actively engaged in treatment significantly increases the likelihood of long-term, lifetime recovery. Following the completion of aftercare, graduates of the Amethyst program can choose to stay in treatment for up to two additional years. 

Challenging Stigmas 

Many times, people associate addiction with certain stigmas and some, despite all medical evidence to the contrary, do not see addiction as a disease. Hess finds that many aspects of people seeking treatment for addiction and/or mental health can be stigmatized. There are a range of negative stigmas in regards to addiction, mental health issues, poverty, and justice involvement. Alvis and its Amethyst program advocate against these stigmas through an evidence-based approach to integrated behavioral healthcare treatment. The Alvis vision is that communities believe each person’s potential is more important than their past. “What we know and believe is that addiction is a disease,” Hess says. “Mental health is a disease. When appropriately treated, people recover.” She compares recovery from addiction and mental illness to treatment and recovery from other chronic diseases, like blood pressure or diabetes. The disease may linger, but clients learn to use certain tools to live in society and remain in recovery, leading full and productive lives. Staff at Alvis’ Amethyst program work with clients to combat the stigmas revolving around addiction, mental illness, and people with past justice system involvement. In turn, clients are educated about the capacity for change and growth. The goal is holistic treatment. As Hess explains: “Yes, we treat the addiction, but we also provide basis for education and employability.” 

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 Mental Health Awareness Month Fast Facts

When it comes to thinking about caring for one’s self and body, many people first think about exercise and a nutritious diet. But did you know that what goes on inside the brain can affect physical health just as negatively as a poor diet and lack of exercise? One in five adults in the United States experience mental illness, yet it remains negatively stigmatized. Mental health disorders can have a direct and detrimental effect on one’s wellbeing, so it is necessary to have information about these conditions and how to treat them. 

Throughout May, Alvis is joining the rest of the country in raising awareness about the importance of mental health care. National Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrating its 70th year. It was started by the Mental Health America organization in 1949. During the month of May, this organization, along with affiliates, conducts numerous outreach activities based upon a yearly theme. This year, they are expanding on the 2018 theme of #4Mind4Body. This hashtag encourages individuals to explore topics surrounding animal companionship, spirituality, humor, work-life balance, recreation, and social connections as a way to improve mental health and overall wellness.

As the leading cause of disability worldwide, depression is one of the major contributors to the high cost of untreated mental health conditions. In more serious cases, depression is estimated to cost America over $193 billion in lost earnings every year. Depression is a detriment to the economy and it has a negative impact on those suffering because they are losing income simply because they are incapable of fully engaging at work. One in 25 American adults experiences mental illness to this extreme, and it is likely that the individuals who suffer from these chronic conditions have been affected since their teen years. 

Of the almost 50 million who experience mental illness each year, over 10 million also suffer from addiction disorders. Communities that are already affected by other hardships are also facing mental health challenges: 26% of homeless adults are living with serious mental illness; and 24% of state prisoners have a history of mental illness. Addressing mental health disorders in this population should be a top priority as positive mental health habits may create a domino 

effect that lowers levels of crime and addiction by providing mental health wellness resources in high-risk communities. 

When looking to how many of those with mental health conditions seek treatment, the numbers are definitely lower than one would hope. Nearly 60% of adults with mental illness did not receive wellness services in the past year. Just over 50% of tweens and teens didn’t receive services. Minorities have even lower service rates in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts, with African and Hispanic Americans receiving care at half the national average rate. 

At Alvis, we join other providers in working to create awareness that we hope will increase the number of people seeking treatment. We need to make positive connections and encourage those who are suffering to stop suffering alone in silence. We commend all of those who are living with and seeking care for their mental health conditions for all that they do. We hope to highlight some of the people and issues in this community throughout the month of May. 

If you want to get personally involved, begin by doing some research on what your community is doing to help those with mental health disorders. Mental Health America offers a great toolkit that can be used to spread awareness on social media, and you can see one of their banners at the start of this post! At Alvis, we incorporate mental health treatment into our human service programs. This allows our clients to make fundamental changes and truly feel our 180 Degree Impact. Stay tuned to Alvis social media and our blog throughout May for more on mental health and how Alvis is spreading awareness for this amazing cause! 

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.

Volunteers Spotlight: Hewitt (Tuey) and Elizabeth Harris

Reentry Matters

As we continue celebrating National Volunteer Month, we did a Q&A with the Restored Couple. Read and watch what they said.

Why Alvis?

The fact it is a LIFE CHANGING program is important to us! These individuals are seeking just that! Just like we were 15 plus years ago. We are very proud to support an organization that helps with the transition of exoffenders reentering society. 

What is the impact you can make as a volunteer?

The impact we pray our story provides to these individuals, is that they TRULY CAN have second chances and new beginnings! And we encourage hope! 

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Alvis?

I love when we get to talk ‘one to one” these individuals. They share their own personal story with us. And they get personal and intimate. This is a moment we value and take seriously! They chose US to share their pain, concerns, and triumphs!!!

Any favorite quote you would like to share?

Quote I heard from someone years ago that resonated with me…

“Life will only change when you become more committed to your DREAMS….than you are to your comfort zone.”

Anything else you would like to add?

Message to Corporate America, housing units, the “everyday” person that haven’t been in our situation.

We are employable! We are rentable! We are walk among you as changed individuals! We are more than our institution numbers! We are warriors!!! And we will succeed!!

Volunteering Matters

You can see and learn more about The Restored Couple on social media. Stay tuned!

Facebook: Hewitt & Elizabeth Harris

Instagram: @the.restored.couple

Twitter: @restoredcouple

http://www.therestoredcouple.com

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: Nancy Colvin

Q&A sessions celebrating National Volunteer Week #NVW

Why Alvis? 

I connected with Alvis through Amethyst. Their work with women who are living with addiction saves lives and heals families. I first became aware of Amethyst through Ginny O’Keefe. Her fearless drive and boundless compassion are humbling to witness and impossible to resist. 

What is the impact you can make? 

I work full time and have two children. My time isn’t always my own, but I spend an hour a week providing tutoring support for a woman working toward her GED. It is one of the most impactful things I do and it takes an hour of my time. I walk away feeling as though the world is a little better place than I thought it was. 

Importance of volunteer work for the community? 

Every day we have a chance to leave the world just a bit better, to be kind, to support another person. I want that to be the example my children see. I want them to know in their hearts we all have a responsibility to one another and that they absolutely have the ability to change the world – one action at a time. 

Thank you Nancy!! We appreciate all you do!

Social Work Spotlight: Dean Gregoire


Introduction

To finish up with our social work celebration, we traveled to The Ohio State Universitythis week and got the chance to sit down with the Dean of the College of Social Work, Dr. Tom Gregoire. Dean Gregoire PhD. has been a member of The Ohio State University’s faculty for 22 years, spending the past ten of those in the Dean position. Prior to this, though, he was an academic; after receiving his bachelors at the Marymount College of Kansas, he went on to receive his masters and studied substance abuse treatment. He took a look at how practices were changing and thought we needed more research on the matter, taking it upon himself to earn his Ph.D. so he could complete these examinations himself. He has taken his affinity for research with him throughout his professional career, as we cannot work in the absence of evidence. There are over 30 faculty members at Ohio State dedicating their entire careers to finding the best ways to treat clients as they don’t want people to fund them if they have no evidence to support their claims. Despite this, he feels like there will never be a time to stop studying as nothing is ever going to work perfectly; he is proud of all of the innovative research being done as it is community-based and he encourages all agencies to be more focused on this type of evidence. Above all, we are willing to experiment and advance the science.

Looking to those in the social work profession, Gregoire feels that to be successful, social workers need to be able to network. Having the ability to collaborate, create teams, and think about circumstances differently than others goes a long way when paired with the knowledge of evidence and successful interventions. With limited resources, you have to do things that work. This can require some courage since they commonly work in the cracks that vulnerable people are entrenched in. These social workers can help make a difference in creating one community by knowing that it simply isn’t enough to solve people’s problems. Sometimes, they need to think about one’s personal experiences and take on the roles and biases that create these problems in the first place. Dean said that we live in a world where two people could have all of the same characteristics and live in different communities, causing both people to ultimately have totally different experiences.

When evaluating the profession as a whole, Gregoire feels that the biggest challenge surrounds lack of resources; there is not enough money being invested in vulnerable people, and this causes social workers to wonder how they can become more creative. They have to come up with innovative ways to solve problems and then implement them in interdisciplinary ways. In the next five years, he sees this lack of resources shift. Now more than ever he is seeing a lot of private donations supporting smaller agencies, and this may push resources closer to the client. Very few people can have all of their care needs met in one building, so making resources more readily available to those in need, where they actually need them, is key. From creating internships and jobs in community locations like public libraries in homeless camps to accompanying the people on visits to ensure the well-being of those in the home, he says that we need to begin meeting people where they are. 


Top 3 Skills

Looking to the opioid crises we are immersed in, Gregoire says that they are at ground zero with the substance abuse crisis. Many rural communities are now plagued by addiction, with over 100,000 grandparents raising their grandchildren on account of parent drug abuse. 20% of these caregivers are under the poverty line, and this creates a generational problem as the trajectory usually sees the children of those struggling with untreated addictions simply following in their caregiver’s footsteps. At Ohio State, there is a substance misuse minor for social work students, allowing them to specialize in how to treat those with addiction as a whole, rather than the problem alone. When he looks at how his college is operating, his vision surrounds maintaining community involvement. When the curriculum was redesigned 10 years ago, 300 people from the practice community combined their knowledge to create a continued community partnership and ignite creative problem solving. He wants to ensure that they are educating the student as a whole, enabling them with the survival skills and protections given to fireman and policeman. He also teaches financial wellness to his students as he realizes that higher education does not come cheap. He does a lot of scholarship fundraising to ensure that students who want to commit to helping others do not take a vow of poverty. States across the country are now spending less than ever before on education, and this can cause many students to make huge sacrifices. The school has 32% of first generation undergrads and he celebrates them for taking a chance on themselves, changing their family for generations. He hopes to raise money for all of his students that can follow them into the community, aiding those committed to working in low income areas.

Connecting to Alvis, Gregoire has been involved with our nonprofit for over 12 years. He first visited our facilities for a research project. He says that Alvis’ services are phenomenal as we work with challenging situations. He admires our dedication to those discarded in the community and our commitment to shifting thought processes in order to improve quality of life. He knows that the College of Social Work and Alvis share an understanding of what it means to be helpful to others, holding the same values surrounding dignity, justice, and fair opportunity. Internships are integral to social work student’s training, and they offer great opportunity to grow, develop core values, and prepare to work for vulnerable populations. Through Alvis, interns gain this invaluable experience. He left us with a great quote he feels is applicable in today’s political climate; he says that it’s easy to look at the news and feel depressed or that we are heading in the wrong direction. He quoted Martin Luther King Jr. to say that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bent towards good.” We thank him for taking the time to sit down with us and shed light on this amazing profession.


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.

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.