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

Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System

We’d like to believe prisons are for criminals, mental health facilities are for people with mental illnesses, and the two never meet. Yet the reality is more complicated; our criminal justice system is overwhelmed by people with mental health issues.

Here’s how it works: When most people see a person acting erratically, they call 911. This means that people having a mental health crisis are more likely to be met by police than medical professionals.

Woman hugging her knees in prison cell

Part of being a police officer is de-escalating situations. But police officers are not always adequately trained to do that when dealing with people who are mentally ill. They’re cops, not counselors, after all. So, two million such people are then booked into jails each year, where most don’t receive treatment.

A person living at home with a bipolar disorder doesn’t need permission to take medications that have been legally prescribed for them. Jail inmates, however, may have to go days without essential medication while they wait for a psychiatric evaluation. From jail, many of these people go into courtrooms—when what they need instead are medications, counseling, and mental health services.

If they’re convicted, prison isn’t kind either. Mentally ill inmates tend to stay longer in prison, in part because they sometimes can’t understand the rules. Unfortunately, releasing them doesn’t always help; many become homeless, pop up in emergency rooms, or get arrested again because they don’t have long-term support.

There are ways to better serve people with mental health issues at all levels of the criminal justice system. It starts with informed policing.

Keep on read here for the full article from its original source. “Thank you Ethan Waddell for making this information available to all”.

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

National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week

National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week Alvis Blog

This week is National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week.

To observe this week, we want to share some facts:

Every year, 100,000 babies are born addicted to cocaine due to their mother’s use during pregnancy.

90% of Americans with substance abuse problems started smoking, drinking or using drugs before they were 18 years old.

Around 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes.

Alcohol abuse is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 

These facts should startle you. These statistics wouldn’t be acquired without real people falling prey to addiction and alcoholism. It can happen to anyone.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Hotline: 1-800-662-4357

Our Amethyst program: https://bit.ly/2O12A7R

Take the National Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge: https://bit.ly/32DV4Fn

Family and Children's Holiday Cheer Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missy and Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day Alvis blog

Happy International Human Rights Day! Today, December 10th, we recognize the unalienable universal rights endowed to humans of all cultural backgrounds. Not only are we called upon to stand up for our own rights, but to defend the rights of others, too.

A key component from Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that “All human beings are born free & equal in dignity and rights.” According to the United Nations, human rights apply to “race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States, headed the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A video displaying the women who led the drafting committee and their contributions to this day can found here.

Alvis believes that each person’s potential is more important than their past. Likewise, we believe that everyone has the right to live their lives to the fullest. These beliefs directly pertain to human rights. Human rights are created so that all have access to the same potential and vast possibilities.

The stigmas that follow individuals with justice involvement, behavioral healthcare needs, and developmental disabilities can severely limit the way that societies view a person’s potential. Rights do not end when someone has made a mistake in the past, and if they are physically or mentally struggling. Alvis is committed to upholding human rights for our clients, and is proud to work with organizations that join our vision of ensuring all human rights, and proper treatment, for everyone in our communities.

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

International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day / Dec 5 PENDING IMAGE AND BACKLINKS PT

Today is International Volunteer Day! Mandated by the UN General Assembly, according to their website, this day fosters the chance for volunteers and organizations to promote their work for communities, NGOs, United Nations agencies, government authorities, and the private sector. It also advocates and encourages volunteerism throughout the world.

The theme of last year’s IVD was “Volunteers Build Resilient Communities.” This focus on communities, which is also apparent in the general mission of IVD, is what Alvis is all about. We strive to create safe, compassionate communities that believe in a person’s potential more than their past. Likewise, we believe in the power of clients to overcome their own obstacles, which is very challenging to do without support.

Alvis treasures its volunteers, who give time, funds, and care toward making an impact in the state of Ohio. Without our volunteers, we would not be able to touch our ever-expanding client populations. We have community volunteers, who directly interact with clients, providing kind, thoughtful interactions, and sometimes, even physical gifts, like the bags that were donated for our Mother’s Day celebration. Additionally, we have employees who go above-and-beyond their stipulated job responsibilities in order to further the positive impact that Alvis makes for its clients, from offering crafting classes, to tutoring clients for the GED Test. Many of our volunteer opportunities that are not directly at locations revolve around our special events. This might mean simply attending events and lending a helping hand, or it might mean providing food, transportation, or activities for clients to these functions.

Other service organizations, such as Columbus Gives Back, The Kiwanis Club of Columbus, and the Ronald McDonald House, seek to better the local community, and organizations like the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County provide opportunities for groups in central Ohio to come together in order to address community issues on a larger scale.

Here at Alvis, we’ve been involved in community outreach with various organizations across Columbus (including some of the above mentioned nonprofits!). Click on this post [INSERT COMMUNITY OUTREACH HYPERLINK] to see what kinds of outreach our interns performed across Columbus…and learn about how you can make a #180DegreeImpact on your community with Alvis here!

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.