National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month!

Some Statistics…

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a charitable foundation focused on improving the well-being of American children, in 2018, 424,653 children were in foster care in the US. Childtrends.org defines this as, “a living arrangement for children who a child protective services worker and a court has decided cannot live safely at home.” This source also states that, in 2017, one in three children entered foster care because of parental drug abuse. “Without a caring, loving parent, the statistics about orphans indicate that they are at great risk to crime and homelessness. They don’t graduate from high school or have the ability to attend or succeed in college. Many become teen parents, are under-employed, and lack the skills to build strong relationships and have their own healthy families. These kids are at risk to those who hustle sex for hire, traffickers, extremists and others who prey on the kid’s vulnerabilities,” (kidsave.org). Foster care is a positive service, but it should be used in conjunction with families, not as a replacement. In 2017, the state of Ohio saw one of the largest increases in children entering foster care due to parental drug abuse. April Dirks, an associate professor of social work at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, says, “unfortunately the foster care system is overburdened—there’s not enough families, not enough services. If they’re going to remove the children, the best thing would be immediately treating the parent.” Dirk believes in specialized programs that provide supervised treatment instead of incarceration for people with substance use or mental health issues. These courts can provide parents with the support they need to recover from their addiction and regain custody of their children, (npr.org).

How Alvis Can Help…

Alvis is one such program. Here we bring families together instead of splitting them apart. The Family and Children’s Program serves children and their mothers, with the end goal of bringing families together that have been affected by substance abuse and parental involvement in the criminal justice system. The Family and Children’s Program consists of two components. The first is educational, and the second is in-person contact. Mothers receive parenting education and training. They are taught effective communication and discipline strategies, they learn how to set appropriate boundaries, and they receive guidance to help them understand basic parental responsibilities. 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.

Moms are then given the opportunity to demonstrate their new skills in part two of the program, during which they are given the opportunity to connect with their children. They write letters, poems and make crafts for their children, which Alvis mails to help maintain the mother-child connection during their stay at Alvis. The mothers also have the opportunity to visit with their children twice each month, every first and third Saturday. Clients come together for a healthy meal, while spending time with their families. Research shows that families who eat meals together are stronger, which is why meals are at the center of family visit days, as caregivers and children join their mothers for a bonding experience. Usually, this also can involve participating in fun activities like games and taking lots of pictures. It’s during these in-person visits that moms get to put into practice the tools and training the program provides. These visits are also where we see the magic of reconnecting families. After graduation, an aftercare phase also allows mothers the opportunity to continue receiving services for up to two years after finishing their treatment through the 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.

Recovery Housing at Alvis

An Overview of Three Programs for Women

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

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

SHINE

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

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

CHAT

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

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

Belmar

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

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

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience 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.

Randy Kirby brings his love of music to volunteering

Randy on bass

Randy Kirby came to Alvis to share his love of music with our clients. Music is in his DNA. He is a talented multi-instrumentalist who is married to a classically trained pianist. All five of their children play a variety of instruments as a result of being taught by their parents. What Randy loves the most, though, is teaching music to others and seeing the lights go on when someone “gets it.”

Now that his kids are older, Randy had a little more time. His love of teaching music brought him to Alvis as a volunteer. He is working with men in our programs for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). He teaches them piano, guitar and/or bass guitar, depending on their area of interest. Randy is personally a fan of 1960s Rock and Roll and blues from about any era. For many years when he lived in the Cleveland area, Randy played in “Club Sandwich,” a Beatles cover band.

Randy on piano

He first started working with the IDD clients in the fall of 2019. He loves their enthusiasm for learning and watching them figure stuff out. But Randy also admits he’s had to learn to be more patient and go slower when a client doesn’t want to move ahead at his typical pace. “I meet them where they’re at,” he says.

The Alvis clients couldn’t ask for a more upbeat, energetic and caring teacher. “There’s so much more that’s positive about music than just learning to play,” says Randy. “It boosts a person’s confidence because it’s like learning another language.” He also notes, “Music can be a way for some people to process their emotions.” Randy treasures the time he spends at Alvis and insists he gets more out of volunteering than he gives. “Watching them grow and stretch is a great feeling. I’m lucky to be part of it.”

Thank you, Randy, for volunteering and helping to turn lives around!

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

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.

April is Volunteer Month! Meet Nancy, in her own words:

“My name is Nancy Bechtold and I am a retired IT professional. My current hobbies include gardening, reading and volunteering for several worthwhile organizations. My family and friends would probably describe me as outspoken and very opinionated, but also caring and compassionate to those less fortunate. I am very interested in the environment and how to help clean it up for future generations.


I learned about Alvis through Molly Seguin. She was a high school friend of my older daughter and she and her family have volunteered for our Upper Arlington Special Olympics program over the years. My younger daughter participates in the Special Olympics program. When I retired several years ago,  I asked her what could I do to help at Alvis. She said that the DD department needed someone to help file paperwork, etc.

For the past several years (I think it’s 3) I  go to Alvis on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 2-4 hours each day.  I perform data entry and filing as well as other office tasks. I  help decorate for the Holiday parties that the staff provides for “the guys”.   It gives me a sense of purpose to help out where I can. I have had the opportunity to meet many of the consumers that Alvis services. Everyone I have met at Alvis is so friendly. I feel that I am part of a team — a team of people who work hard and care so much about what they do.

I believe volunteering is a way to step outside your own cocoon and learn about those who need help. I volunteer for several worthwhile organizations and have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people.

Alvis is definitely an organization worthy of donations. Alvis programs help thousands of people turn their lives around. I am grateful to be a small part of such a great organization.”

Here it is one of my favorite quotes:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou


Thank you Nancy! We appreciate YOU and all your contributions to Alvis! Happy Volunteer Month!

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.