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 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.

National Make A Difference Day

The mantra “pay it forward” has been gaining attention as movements such as random acts of kindness are popping up across the nation. But today, we want to focus on one man who is working to turn his life around and make a difference for someone else. This man has spent the last 43 years of his life in prison.  

Wendell Drake’s father died when he was young and his mother, grief-stricken, was in and out of mental health institutions. Drake says that when his parents disappeared from his life, so too did all forms of discipline. He got involved in minor criminal activity, but he says he never felt totally settled in the lifestyle he was building. 

He was sent to a juvenile facility at the age of 16, where he noticed that the other guys in the facility were enjoying and embracing their lives that involved criminal activity. “That was the beginning,” he says with tears in his eyes. “That was the beginning of my destruction.”

“I was in a world of trouble,” Drake says of the next few years when he ended up serving nearly two years as a juvenile after an armed robbery where one of his co-defendants was shot in the head. He says at one point, he would have denied being there that day because he didn’t go inside. But now he recognizes “I was just as much responsible for it as any of them were.” But still, the time he spent in prison was a “badge of honor” to so many of the people in his life at that time and, when he came home, he was asked to be part of another robbery. He agreed. 

“At that point in my life,” he explains, “I probably didn’t even realize that I had an inner-self. Not to mention the string of victims that I left in my wake.”

On the day he would pull that trigger, he says he never planned to use the gun. But the owner was not willing to stand by and be robbed. The owner pulled out a pool stick and Drake panicked. Before he realized what he’d done, he pulled the trigger that would kill an innocent man. But Drake says his intentions on that day do not matter. He never meant to hurt anyone, but he did. “It does no good to the person that I shot nor does it do any good to the grieving hearts of his remaining loved ones who know that their loved one was struck down for nothing. It does them no good.”

After nearly half a century of justice system involvement, Drake says, “it was necessary.” He believes it was “preordained from the Creator for me to go through the experiences I went through in order to be the person that I am.”

And who is that person? A man who has accepted his guilt, accepted his punishment, and accepted his ability to change. Drake believes that people have the ability to turn their lives around and that humans are not the sum of where they came from. “For the rest of my life I will be trying to do everything in my power to help an individual live a little bit better than what they’re living now.”

Drake’s goal is to be part of a reentry program like the one he completed at Alvis. “I would like to continue to work in reentry in a formal type of way. I would like somebody to take a look at me, look at my credentials, look at my experiences… and see if I am who I say I am.”

He sites Ohio’s overall 30% recidivism rate as being a primary concern as well as the demographic of kids who are growing up in the same situation he did. His goal to be part of reentry comes from his experience with Alvis

“I had nowhere else to go when I was on parole,” he explains. But Mr. Ross, an Alvis operations manager, told him, “we are going to give you all the opportunity in the world to succeed and see what you do with it.”

Community programs such as Touch have also reached him in life-changing ways, and Drake jokes his praise is so strong, “they will have to pay me for a commercial.”

But Drake has seen what a true support system can do for a person. “CPT, Primary Care Solutions Agency, the Nehemiah House, Refuge—organizations and groups like this, people like this, they helped me to want to do the right thing by showing that ‘I believe you can make it.’”

After seeing the difference such programs have made in the lives of others, Drake believes this is his calling. “I want to be able to make a significant influence,” he says. “What you do for somebody else can be grand if you are truly helping them move from one point to another. And that’s what I try to live by.”

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 Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day

national custodial worlers recognition day

It’s National Custodial Worker’s Day and we want to say: Thank you!

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas that usually last throughout a person’s lifetime. That definition may seem strange on National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day, but give us just a minute to explain.

According to the CSG Justice Center, people with developmental disabilities (DD) are overrepresented in jails and prisons and are more likely to be victimized in correctional settings. In studies completed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2018, people with DDs represent 4-10% of the prison population, and 40% of jail inmates have at least one disability.

Alvis works directly with DD clients, many who have been involved with the criminal justice system. Our staff, such as home managers and DSPs, works with clients that have developmental disabilities and offers resources and individualized support. Alvis also has two social enterprises that were created with the goal of helping clients build work experience, leadership qualities, and financial stability—one with a focus on DD clients.

So, let’s get back to National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day. At Alvis, we have the best custodial staff around. Transitions is one of our social enterprises in which correctional and DD Services team members complete custodial services in commercial spaces. The enterprise began in 2010 as a training component for clients and then expanded to become an established business in 2014. At its genesis, Transitions was formed because Alvis needed to hire a custodial team, so workers began cleaning Alvis facilities. But the business began growing and secured its first outside contract with a local nonprofit in 2016. The team continues to clean the Community Treatment Center on Livingston Avenue and the Stella Court offices, earning wages and developing essential workplace skills.

Alvis’s Transitions’ DD Services Team, is committed to aiding the DD population. Camilla Jackson, is a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with Developmental Disability (DD) Services at Alvis who was recently recognized by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She won two awards, the Horizon Award and the Constellation Award, for her exceptional effort as a DSP with Alvis. DD services are central to our outreach and we have gotten to be part of so many client success stories.

If you have a commercial space, are in need of cleaning services, and want to make a positive impact in the lives of these individuals, please contact Ramona Swayne by sending an email to 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 Bullying Prevention Month

National Bullying Prevention Month Alvis Blog

In 2006, the nonprofit PACER founded a campaign called the National Bullying Prevention Month that would take place each October. PACER says, “Historically, bullying had been viewed as “a childhood rite of passage” that “made kids tougher,” but the reality has always been that bullying can leave devastating and often long-term effects such as a loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression for those involved.”

Alvis is passionate about kids. Our Amethyst Program is focused on helping rehabilitating mothers stay connected with their children. Alvis runs a day camp called SummerQuest that keeps children engaged and safe while their mothers are in treatment, and the Family and Children’s Program offers reading opportunities, games, crafts, and activities bi-weekly. We know that it is important to help parents turn their lives around, but we also want to let the kids know how much we care about them, too.

Being a kid can be hard, and having a parent with justice system involvement can make it even harder.

There are many ways you can get involved in the movement to stop bullying. Many adolescents are sharing their stories by writing an “I Care Because . . .” statement. In these statements, youth around the world share their thoughts and experiences on bullying. One Alvis employee chose to write her own statement.

I used to be a high school teacher. It was almost impossible to see the bullying because everything went on below the surface. But every once in a while, students would tell me their stories. One student said his “friends” kept adding him, then deleting him from a group chat when he wouldn’t do something they asked. One girl sang in a local talent show and the whole room clapped except for a table of kids from her school. Another student was being picked on for being gay and, when she reached out to a school official, was told: “you have to expect that when you put gay pride stickers on your book bag.” I care because kids deserve to be kids.

If you are passionate about ending bullying, PACER leaders say these are the best ways to get involved. We all can help.

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.

Healthy Aging Month

Healthy Aging Month Alvis Blog

September is Healthy Aging Month and, according to Healthy Aging Magazine, is one of the best times to offset the effects of aging. The healthy aging mogul encourages seniors to get out and get active. Carolyn Worthington, publisher of the Healthy Aging multi-media platform suggests that seniors “use September as the motivation to take stock of where you’ve been, [and] what you really would like to do.” 

In celebration of Healthy Aging Month, the Alvis team has compiled a list of activities for seniors to get involved in, right here in Columbus.

1) Take a guided or self-guided tour, walk, or hike through the Columbus Metro Parks. Whether it’s a walk through Inniswood Metro Gardens on October 6th or the Nature Hike at Three Creeks on October 18th, there are activities for almost every week of the year at one of the Metro Parks locations. Check out the various locations and dates here.

2) Go on a Walk With A Doc! Walk With a Doc takes place at Highbanks Metro Park in Columbus every Saturday through November, and then switches to the Polaris Mall through April. The program, founded by Doctor David Sabgir, provides “free blood pressure checks, healthy snacks, recipes, health information to make better lifestyle changes, and opportunities to talk with local physicians.”

3) Become a member of Columbus Recreation and Parks’s senior program. Columbus Recreation and Parks offers a 50+ membership for free that allows senior members access to senior fitness centers and sports programs. 

4) Get your steps in at a local festival! There are dozens of fall festival and fairs going on from September to November. Whether it’s at Chalk the Block or at Ohio Gourd Fest, there are tons of venues where you can honor your body with movement. Check the list out here

5) Attend a gym. SilverSneakers, a fitness program for seniors, is included in many Medicare Advantage Plans. It allows members access to gyms all over Columbus at free or reduced rates. Check eligibility here

Wherever your interests lie, there are plenty of ways to stay active this fall. Something as small as stretching or walking can make all the difference in your physical health. Alvis knows that seniors are important to the community, which is why we spent multiple days teaming up with senior events over the summer. We had our inaugural Wellness 180 Event, which focused on staying healthy in the workplace and participated in National Senior Health and Fitness Day as well as the Senior Expo Event. We continue to be an equal opportunity employer that supports and employs seniors and veterans because we know diverse perspectives and experiences are crucial to building a team that makes a 180-degree impact. 

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 Working Parent’s Day

National Working Parents Day Alvis Blog

Parents do a lot for their kids—they constantly juggle scraped knees, runny noses, school schedules, and swim lessons. And, in the 21st century, many parents are doing all this while working fulltime jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in two-parent households, 49% consist of two working parents. Managing the tasks of parenthood on top of pressures of work can be challenging for these families.

Daisy Wademan Dowling of the Harvard Business Review says that most parental challenges can be divided into problems with: transition, practicalities, communication, loss, and identity. Maybe your kids are struggling with changing schools, feeling unable to express themselves, breaking up with a girlfriend, or feeling overwhelmed with busy schedules. She says the difference can be as simple as identifying the problem. “When people I’ve worked with… learn to see patterns in the strains they’re facing,” she explains, “they immediately feel more capable and in charge, which then opens the door to some concrete, feasible fixes.”

Dowling says working parents should complete these statements: ‘“I am a working-parent professional who…”; “I prioritize work responsibilities when…”; and “My kids come before work when….”’

Alvis client, Tracy Kirby, knows all about these steps for working parents. Tracy was in the justice system for nine years before entering Alvis’s doors. At that point, he had to choose his priorities and decide his next steps. Tracy says his children “[gave] me love [and] allowed me to love back. They have played a huge role in my recovery and new life.” Tracy now works as a chef at Coopers Hawk, and believes that providing for his children is his biggest priority.

So, the question is, how do we balance it all? How do we make sure we are prioritizing our children, staying successful in our work, and saving time for ourselves? Alvis understands the struggle and we see it in cases with parents who are also dealing with an ongoing struggle with sobriety and rehabilitation. Our program, Amethyst, is built so mothers can continue parenting their children while getting the help they need themselves. At the 2019 Amethyst graduation, twelve women received certificates of completion from the five-step rehabilitation program. One graduate, Courtney, said the day she drove herself to the facility, she did it only for her children. She found that, after completing treatment and recognizing her own worth and value, she now knows she wants to stay sober for herself as well.

No matter what your struggle is as a working parent, know that there are others out there who understand.  Whether it be taking a step back and analyzing your game plan as Dowling suggests, or reprioritizing your responsibilities as Tracy did, there are solutions out there to dealing with the stress of working families. And you are doing great. 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 Sober Day

Today is set aside to celebrate and support those who have chosen a path of sobriety. At Alvis, we recognize substance misuse as a disease and work to remove the stigma associated with those who are in or seeking recovery. Alvis believes that a person’s future is more important than his past and because of this, we advocate for and work with many people facing the battle of sobriety. 

The opioid crisis in Ohio is receiving so much attention because of the tragic number of fatalities each year. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid-induced deaths in Ohio are more than double the national average. Alvis’s POWER program, a rehabilitation program focused on helping those with opiate addiction, was established in 2016 and has admitted nearly three hundred clients. Our goal is to give these clients a second chance through education and treatment focused on addiction. 

As serious as the opiate epidemic has become, there is still a need for rehabilitation programs for many other forms of substance abuse, as well. JAMA Psychiatry found that, since the turn of the 21st century, alcoholism rates have risen 49% to the previous national average. One in eight American adults now meets the criterion to be considered a person with alcohol abuse disorder. 

Alvis has been a leader in the fight for sobriety since its establishment over fifty years ago. Our Recovery Choices Program focuses on cognitive-behavioral treatment and mentors our clients to recover from negative situations, cope with past trauma, and make positive choices for their futures. Our program, Amethyst, is a treatment option in which recovering women go through rehabilitation without being separated from their children. The program offers addiction treatment, housing options, medical services, psychological treatment, and training and placement in the workforce. Amethyst’s purpose is to empower the women and children in the program and focus on gender-specific needs of females going through recovery. 

No matter what kind of treatment a client needs, aftercare is crucial to Alvis because we know that many people recovering from substance misuse will struggle when returning to their previous environments. Our residential reentry centers focus on transitioning clients back to their own communities successfully and providing them with the support system they need. We have check-ins and post-program mentors that continue to work with clients even after they have completed the program. We know this works because our recidivism rate is nearly fifty percent less than the national rate as reported by the Bureau of Justice

The difference at Alvis is that our programs work toward comprehensive rehabilitation—that means adjusting the thought process, environment, and community network of each client, and then continuing support post-recovery. We believe that, if we provide evidence-based human services programs, we can support and empower our community members to build successful and healthy lives. We know our clients can turn their lives around and we are here fighting for those second chances. That is our 180 degree impact. 

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.