A second chance to prove to friends and loved ones, to the courts — to yourself — that you can stay off drugs, hold down a steady job, start your life afresh and anew.
That’s what The Counseling Center Inc.’s Second Chance Center is all about. Officials held its ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house Monday at 526 Fifth St. at the site of the former juvenile detention center.
About 30 to 40 men can be housed there full-time while undergoing rehabilitation and job-training and recovery-to-work programs. They will have also help with resumes and job searches.
It’s a program of The Counseling Center and the Scioto County Commissioners with funding coming through the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addicted Services as well as the Rehabilitation Services Commission.
The former juvenile detention center has been empty for nearly two years. The Scioto County Board of County Commissioners, faced with a budget deficit, could no longer afford to operate it.
The illegal drug problems in southern Ohio have gotten wide notice in the media, “and when we decided to help ourselves, we have begun to get some help,” said state Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, the freshman legislator who has gone to war on the problem and helped convince Gov. John Kasich and fellow legislators to join him in the battle.
“Our drug and alcohol problem isn’t solved, but we’re working hard to solve it and it can be solved. These are proud people here, and Portsmouth will return to what it once was,” Johnson said. “I’m proud to be your representative in Columbus.”
State Rep. Danny Bubp, a fourth-term Republican representing Brown and Adams counties, said he appreciated the name given the new center.
“All of us deserve a second chance,” he said. “Do you know of anyone in this room who’s perfect?”
Speakers were introduced by Ed Hughes, president and CEO of The Counseling Center. Others offering brief remarks included Kevin Miller, director of the Rehabilitation Services Center of Columbus, and Orman Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services.
Jay Hash, program director of The Counseling Center’s Marsh House, will direct the activities of the new Second Chance Center.
Mike Mitler, who called himself a recovering addict who has been clean for 2 1/2 years, said his former life revolved around addiction until, at one time, he was “homeless, unemployable, a danger to myself and anyone who came in contact with me.”
He began his life-changing experience through help of The Counseling Center on Jan. 15, 2009, a decision that led to the return of his children to him and got him a job as a “consistent and reliable employee” of Bob Evans Restaurant. He’s now going to work for the new center.
“Through the help of a lot of people, I got that second chance. Miracles can happen. As the state representative has said, everybody deserves a second chance,” Mitler said.
Another testimony to what help and an individual’s desire to chance can do came from Michael Parker, former high school and college football star.
His road to recovery began with help received at the Marsh House. He also thanked Judge William Marshall.
“Without a second chance I would not be here.” Parker said. “Now I’ve been clean and sober five years. I’ve been awarded with a job. I’ve been awarded with a stronger relationship with my daughter. Now I hope I can help others who want to recover — who want that second chance.”
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org.