Last updated: July 24. 2013 1:36PM - 305 Views
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PDT Staff Writer

Clients of the Scioto County Counseling Center’s 2nd Chance program lined a wall in the dining room Wednesday to the applause of employees of the probation offices and law enforcement, as the guests enjoyed a lunch prepared by clients going through rehabilitation for addiction.

The clients do not have insurance, so the program — which ranges in cost from $50 a day to $75 a day — is free.

“It is a day to honor and to appreciate the men and women in the various probation offices and courts, thanking them for their confidence in the Counseling Center and the 2nd Chance Center,” 2nd Chance Director Jay Hash said. “And they showed that confidence by one year of referrals of clients who had criminal justice problems. They wanted to get clean and sober and they wanted to get a job. And so we wanted to honor them and give them an update on what we are doing there with the folks that they have been referring to us.”

Clients in aprons prepared the food for the guests with their new equipment in their training kitchen.

“We received a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for about $60,000 for us to train the clients to learn vocational services, to be able to go out to restaurant services, catering services, things like that,” Gabe Brown, CDCA (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) Facility Manager at 2nd Chance said. “We have a brand new kitchen now - coolers, convection ovens, industrial stove-range area, brand new kitchen equipment, utensils, everything like that.”

As a part of that training Brown said the center decided to plant a garden as well.

“We have corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon and cantaloupe,” Brown said. “So, besides the training, they are going to also learn to serve the community. They’re going to have luncheons here for the community, soup kitchen possibly coming out of our kitchen, and we are teaching our clients how to eat healthier.”

Hash said the facility is proud of its success rate. Of the 46 who have completed the program, 45 are now employed.

“We are very proud of our completion percentage. We’re also very happy for what happens to folks while they’re here and condition in which they leave,” Hash said. “They come in very unhealthy in late stage addiction often or in very bad shape physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and legally. And they may still have a legal relationship with the courts, but they leave clean and sober. We drug test. They are involved in a 12-step program. They have a job and have already earned at least one paycheck. So we are very pleased about our folks becoming employable at a time when jobs are at a premium.”

Hash said it is a testament to people who are in early recovery that people who are healthy are able to get into the work force.

Hash said the original funding for the 2nd Chance Program came from RSC, or Rehabilitation Services Commission, with a lot of support from the local county commissioners and governor Kasich’s office in July of 2011.

In the hallway there is a mural painted by Robert Lyons, one of the program’s clients, and in that mural is a poem written by Chris Percell, another client.

“It’s a piece of artwork inspired by a friend of mine who came in at the same time as I did. I read his poetry, and this picture flashed in my head, and it came out more like a therapy for me,” Lyons said. “I could be in a bad mood, and I could come in here and draw on the wall. It took a lot of stress off of me, and we have become very close since then. He’s a good friend of mine.”

“I’m a two time combat veteran with the United States Army,” Percell said. “I started writing over there when I had some down time. And it has just progressed from there. Once I got into the program, how it touched me and how it made me feel, just started writing one day, and that’s what came out.”

That poem speaks of a transition from addiction to recovery, and it may be that only those clients who have successfully gone through the program can understand the heart of the man who penned it.

“We are all miracles. We are the candles that burn bright amidst the cold wind. We are a ripple of hope sent forth by the words ‘I quit.’ We are castaways made to be captains. We are the change in priority. We are the instruments of God. We are our brother’s keeper. We are recovery.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com.

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