PORTSMOUTH — The 2021 Community Engagement Day was held in Tracy Park Friday, Sept. 25, 2021.
The event was held to reach out to the homeless and those in need in the community. There were open tents set up in the park and each tent had things for free or services to offer the people in attendance. The event ran from 10:45 a.m. – 1 p.m.
One of the tents set up was Ascend Counseling and Recovery Services – an outpatient treatment provider dedicated to a holistic and evidence-based treatment avenue for Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health Disorders.
“We have an inpatient and outpatient program, we are able to provide information to anybody that needs help,” Michelle Newman said. “We can give them a call or go over the program and help with what they need. If it is with the court or whatever they need, we do liaison work, whatever we can do to offer our help and support.”
Another tent set up was Hopesource, which provides Residential, Individual and Group Treatment and Counseling. The organization is a mental health and substance use disorder treatment provider in Portsmouth, Ohio – a team of professionals dedicated to providing quality care.
“I provide services for our women’s transitional living as well as residential,” Tracey Hairston-Peer Specialist with Hopesours said. “We have men and women houses, we have residential and transitional for men and women, and outpatient as well.”
In attendance too was Yvonne Hale with Operation Grace and she said, whatever food they don’t give away for the event, they will be donating it to Operation Grace. “We will find people who need food and donate it to them. We continue to get donations from businesses and some individuals. We help schools with things like personal hygiene items and things there are the coats that are donated by Ohio State and we give away over 500 coats during the wintertime.”
Speaking with Jeff Swords who is Court Administrator and Chief probation officer for the Scioto County Juvenile Court with Judge Alan Lemons, he said they were here Friday to help feed the needy and the homeless.
“This is the third year we have done this, so we are hoping for a good turnout, the weather is great. What we are trying to do here, is to let people know that we are here for them and the community and to let them know the resources that are here in Scioto County for the homeless, the needy, for drug rehab,” Swords said. “We are not just, when you think of court you may think of not-so-good things, but we are here for the people and change lives.”
Judge Alan Lemons wanted the DailyTimes to speak with one of the young men that has been through his drug court program, Jonathan Blevins who went through the family reunification (drug) court.
“The big pros to it to me, was the accountability. When I think I have things under control, is when my addictive thinking gets me in trouble. I didn’t think I had anyone in my corner,” Blevins said. “I thought I was doing this by myself and with the group of people that I met who were there for me emotionally as well as physically, as far as getting things lined and getting me back and involved in my kids’ lives was amazing.” He said he was in trouble and would have had to go to jail but with drug court, he now works for the Counseling Center and has temporary custody of his four kids and is getting ready to go back to court for full custody.
Lemons also shared his thoughts on the event.
“We just came up with this idea to feed the homeless, because I give sanctions, if they don’t do exactly right in drug court, they get sanctioned and this is community service for them serving the food,” Lemons said.
He also spoke on how Dennis DeCamp from the Ohio State Extention office helped get this event together. The event was created by both Swords and Lemons. Swords added that they had a ton of great sponsors for the event which also made it possible.
“We did this before in July, but it was so hot, so we are thinking doing it in the Fall is probably better.” He added about the day, “I have never been thanked so much as being here and with these people.”
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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