Clark County group expands outreach beyond substance abuse prevention

While lined up on Fridays to get their weekly nourishment needs met at Second Harvest Food Bank, community members are getting a side helping of information and other resources.

Members of the Clark County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition’s GROW (Get Recovery Options Working) Team spend time on Fridays meeting motorists and offering resource bags filled with everything from literature on quitting smoking and secondhand smoke to medicine disposal bags, candy and bottles of water to how to get trained in using Narcan and opportunities for the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s a chance to create connections and treatment options to those who may need it or family members according to GROW member Carey McKee, who works at McKinley Hall, an addiction treatment center.

“It’s what we should all be doing,” McKee said.

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The group began the giveaways in summer 2020 as food bank demand grew as the pandemic added to the challenges of everyday life. Following a break when weather prevented doing it safely, the team revived its efforts recently.

They also canvas Springfield neighborhoods, visiting homes to pass out information each month.

Food bank visitors such as Don Walker, Jr. gladly accepted a cold bottle of water and a bag on Friday while in line.

“They’re out here doing their best. There’s nothing better than trying to help everybody,” he said. Walker added his family tries to share with others in turn.

Kathy Case of Springfield was especially pleased with a medicine bag to dispose of excess unused medications belonging to her late sister and from her own bout with cancer.

“It shows the community cares for what’s happening with people,” Case said.

Jared “JJ” Peck, a peer support specialist for McKinley Hall, offered training on using Narcan. Victoria Greider gladly accepted, knowing of friends who died of overdoses.

“In communities, there are too many people dying and it’s so sad,” she said. “If the situation arose and I can, I’d rather help than not. It’s a part of the times.”

GROW Team members look forward to helping, getting in plenty of steps in the process. Lisa Bowlin could only stay for a half-hour on Friday before traveling to an appointment in Cincinnati, but didn’t want to miss.

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Having faced these situations in her own life, Bowlin, who works at BrightView Addiction Treatment Center as an addiction and mental health counselor, wants the community to know others care.

“We’re talking about a situation and how it affects everybody. This is my way of giving back,” she said.

The team handed out 108 resource bags and 125 medicine disposal bags Friday, with some requesting more medicine bags. The group has distributed more than 2,800 bags since beginning last year.

The group plans to continue its efforts as long as others are in need.

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