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Your Bridge To Addiction Resources
14 minutes | Jan 26, 2017
Accessing Services for Youth | Meet Melani Calabria
According to the National Center on Substance Abuse, over 10 million high school students have used addictive substances including tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or cocaine; 1 in 5 meet the medical criteria for addiction. Accessing treatment for addiction is an inclusive process which includes an assessment to determine appropriate level of care. Treatment Access Services Center (TASC) is the licensed central unit intake provider that provides assessments to help youth get the professional help that they need to address their substance use disorder. Lead Clinical Evaluator, Melani Calabria says that TASC provides public funding for youth to enter into treatment who do not have their own private insurance. Melanie state's young people who are referred to TASC for a drug and alcohol assessment usually do not feel they have a problem. Melanie takes time to formulate a bond with the youth so they feel comfortable sharing their alcohol and drug history. Melanie says in-patient treatment care is more readily available for youth than it is for adults and she works collaboratively with parents, schools, and youth serving programs and agencies to ensure youth have received the appropriate services they need. Melanie says appointments to schedule assessments are available Monday –Friday between 8:30am and 4:00pm.
14 minutes | Jan 19, 2017
Kutztown Strong | Meet Guidance Counselor, Andrew Brett
A rapid response to situations impacting our communities can often result in a long lasting effect on the community. In 2014, Guidance Counselor, Andrew Brett and dozens of residents in the Kutztown Borough formed Kutztown Strong formed to address the problems in the community which were contributing to the use opioids among youth. Community members concerned about the health and wellness of the young people assembled at Kutztown High School desiring to make a difference. Andrew states that the group of individuals includes business owners, law enforcement, school officials, students as well as local non-profit agencies. The group has implemented several evidence based programs for grades k – 12 to help youth make good decisions and provide education and awareness. Kutztown Strong also developed its own student survey, which is disseminated annually to determine if there the implementation of the programs have urged youth to reduce or refrain from using drugs. Andrew says that Kutztown Strong seeks input from students to learn more about what things, initiatives, or programs would help students make positive choices instead of illegal activities.
12 minutes | Jan 13, 2017
Drug Treatment Court: An Alternative to Incarceration
For the past 18 years, Jorge Acevedo has worked at Pennsylvania Counseling Services as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor. Jorge provides therapeutic counseling, support, and referrals to individuals seeking a pathway to a better way of living. Jorge also represents Pennsylvania Counseling Services as a treatment provider for individuals participating in Drug Treatment Court, a diversionary program which provides intensive supervision and treatment services to those individuals who have criminal charges for crimes related to their addiction. Drug Treatment Court provides a structure and direction to its participants in hopes of encouraging participants to make lifestyle changes. Participation in the programs ranges from 12 –18 months, although Jorge states, ͞it can be longer depending upon an individual’s motivation to follow direction and maintain compliance with program expectations.͟Jorge believes Drug Treatment Court can benefit many individuals and gave an example of a recent graduate who was able to get her criminal record expunged due to successfully fulfilling the requirements of Drug Treatment Court.
13 minutes | Jan 7, 2017
Common Ground Ministries
The faith based community – more specifically – churches, have a long standing history of providing space to community based groups in an effort to allow individuals representative of different backgrounds, groups, and interests to meet, fellowship and help one another. So, when Common Ground Ministries got started in 2009 within the structure and framework of Atonement Lutheran Church, it appeared to be a perfect fit. Speaking with Tom Scornavacchi, he states Common ground Ministries provides educational speaker series, fellowship opportunities, safe space, as well as referral and support for individuals new to recovery and beyond. Common Ground Ministries are currently in two locations – Atonement Lutheran Church in Wyomissing and Holy Trinity Church in Reading. Tom says the work he enjoys the work he does and finds it to be incredibly miraculous in energizing ways.
11 minutes | Dec 20, 2016
Understanding to Compassion
Since becoming a Board Member for the Council on Chemical Abuse, Michael Kaucher says his eyes have been opened to the reality of addiction and the hope of recovery. “You see it everywhere,” he says in response to the a question regarding the occurrence of addiction. As Executive Director of the Berks Conference of Churches, Kaucher sees how the church body can be a strong force of awareness. With connection to over 450 churches in Berks County, he hopes to increase opportunities for education on addiction to the faith community. Tune in to hear from Michael as he is interviewed by his daughter Jennifer!
13 minutes | Dec 18, 2016
Emergency Medical Services: Saving Lives
The Topton American Legion Community Ambulance Services provide Basic and Advanced Life Support to the community involving eleven different municipalities. Their goal is to provide the best quality care to the people they serve. In 2015, Topton Ambulance responded to over 1200 calls. Tyler Bard, Chief of Emergency Medical Services for the ambulance company has been involved with Topton Ambulance Services for the past 10 years. Tyler states he has always wanted to help others and his passion grew even more when he attended EMT classes. In his role, Tyler works in collaboration with the Council on Chemical Abuse to facilitate training for the residents of Berks County about Naloxone and how to treat someone who has overdosed from using opioids. Naloxone also known as Narcan is an opioid antagonist and reverses the effects of opioid overdose. Tyler states it is important that individuals administering Naloxone receive training on how to administer the drug and to contact 911. Tyler says that he has administered Naloxone and believes everyone should be aware of its benefits – it is a life saver.
14 minutes | Dec 9, 2016
YMCA – A Place to learn and Grow
When a person thinks about the YMCA of Berks County/Reading, he/she may think about the family programs such as swimming, child care, basketball, fitness center and summer camp. But did you know that YMCA also provides transitional housing to individuals seeking assistance with life skills, self-improvement and support. Jami Geist, YMCA’s Housing Director says that Y has been a temporary home for hundreds of men and women who are working through a myriad of life situations including homelessness, recovery from use of alcohol and drugs, legal issues and child custody challenges. An employee of the YMCA for 17 years, Jami states she enjoys her job. “I started at the YMCA as a Case Manager.” Jami says she finds it a joy to see individuals who were once living at the YMCA, are now responsible and productive citizens. They are able to work on their goals while residing in the YMCA. These goals are specific to the individual’s needs and the length of stay in the YMCA Housing program varies based on the individuals’ goals. Jami indicated that ex-residents often see her on the streets and stop to say hello and thank you for the help they received as a resident at the Y. The YMCA is a great place for individuals and families.
10 minutes | Dec 2, 2016
There is Help Where it is Needed
The Council on Chemical Abuse works with many organizations that provide services for Berks County residents. Anais Clemente, Intake & Benefits Coordinator for the Council on Chemical Abuse, works out of an office at Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC). There she works directly with individuals who are in need of treatment and are applying for medical assistance. The individuals she works with are not insured, or are under insured, and thanks to funding through the Council, these individuals are able to receive the help they need to get into treatment. Since her time working for the Council, Anais has decided to change her major in college to study addiction studies. She was also part of a recent event for the Spanish speaking community. Tune in to watch and hear more about the services available through TASC.
13 minutes | Nov 21, 2016
COCA SERVICE PROVIDER – Berks Counseling Center
Berks Counseling Center is a licensed facility that provides drug and alcohol services to individuals living in Berks County. The Council on Chemical Abuse has contracted services with Berks Counseling Center to include outpatient counseling, Student Assistance Program services, Intensive Case Management and Transitional Housing for women and children. Connie Malafarina, Clinical Director for Drug and Alcohol Services states, “Berks Counseling Center has walk-in hours Mon – Fri 8:30 to noon, if someone is in need of help”. Individuals are required to complete general background information and meet with a Financial Specialist to determine their eligibility for public funds, which come for the Council on Chemical Abuse. Individuals receiving treatment services are expected to maintain appointment s and work with their counselor to develop goals which contribute to their sobriety. Connie states that soon Berks Counseling Center will have Saturday office hours to meet the growing demand of individual seeking services. Connie shares her desire to help others stems from the tragic loss of her parent in 1995 due to drunk driver. Connie says the value of counseling is what helped her deal with her loss and now she works to help others deal with their struggles.
17 minutes | Nov 14, 2016
How Individuals Can Access Treatment
When it comes to loved getting help for drug and/or alcohol abuse, access to treatment can be challenging, especially if you have no insurance or your co-pay is high and you cannot afford it. Fortunately the Council on Chemical Abuse provides funding for the uninsured or under-insured who desire to get help and are seeking treatment. Bernice Hines Corbit, Case Manager Supervisor at the Council on Chemical Abuse says there are several access points for individuals to begin the process of getting help. Hospitals, Employment Assistance Programs (EAP), and the Central Intake Unit at Treatment Access Services Center (TASC) are all primary entities who are able to facilitate assessment for individuals to determine appropriate level of care. Length of treatment stay is determined by what specific service an individual needs. Bernice states detoxification from drugs is usually permitted for 3-5 days to allow the individual to get out of his/her environment and allow the drugs to deplete from their bodies. Inpatient can vary depending on the individual’s specific need. Bernice says she tries to help as many people as possible and it is not uncommon to have a person seek treatment more than once. Bernice states she has been doing this work for a long time and it gives her pleasure to help those in need.
12 minutes | Nov 4, 2016
Don’t Get Hooked
Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. It serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand against drugs and violence. Through drug prevention and education, youth and families are encouraged to live drug free lives. Prevention Specialist, Dan Pfost shares the story behind Red Ribbon Week, which commemorates the ultimate sacrifice made by a Drug Enforcement Agent, Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who died at the hands of drug traffickers in Mexico while fighting the battle against illegal drugs. Dan says this year’s theme “Don’t get Hooked” is to remind youth not to use alcohol and other drugs, as well as behaviors such as gambling. Over 50 schools in the county are participating in Red Ribbon Week. Berks County is celebrating Red Ribbon Week from October 21st – 28th.
12 minutes | Oct 21, 2016
Kathy Noll is the Program Analyst at the Council on Chemical Abuse. That means she works on various projects within the agency to ensure quality program deliverables. The Naloxone Project started in 2015. A grant was approved for the training and dispensing of Naloxone to the general public. The grant has ended, but COCA feels this project is a critical need to the community and has continued the project. Naloxone reverses the effect of the opioids and prevents an overdose. Individuals receive training on how to administer Naloxone in emergency situations until medical personnel can intervene. The Council on Chemical Abuse works with area EMT departments to facilitate trainings on the effective use of Naloxone as well as dispense Naloxone kits to those who attend. Kathy states Naloxone is easy to get and to administer. It is a lifesaver!
15 minutes | Oct 15, 2016
Take Action – Be Part of the Change
Former employee, now Board Member, Jobanny has experienced both spectrums of the Council on Chemical Abuse. Jobany says he was hired at COCA as a contractor to provide Tobacco cessation classes in Spanish. Soon after, his role expanded and he provided education and awareness about the problem gambling. Jobanny also worked with local bodegas to educate the owners about the value in selling healthy products to their customers. Jobanny states, “I love doing things for the community and being a part of that change.” As board member, Jobanny has taken the lead on a community education event, Esperanza Para Berks - The first and only event of its kind. Esperanza Para Berks will bring together experts in the field of prevention, intervention, treatment and the faith based community to discuss issues surrounding alcohol and drugs and how individuals can gain access to treatment. The program will be completely in Spanish and free to citizens of Berks County and Beyond. The event is scheduled for Saturday October 15, 2016 from 10:00am – 3:00pm at Centro Hispano.
16 minutes | Oct 10, 2016
Community Education yields Community Solutions
“We need to understand the nature of the disease and bring resources to raise awareness with solid information about the problems and solutions”, states Drew Eisenhauer, a consultant for the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA). Drew was referring to the commitment COCA has for sponsoring an annual conference. For 15 years as part of his job responsibilities, Drew coordinated the annual conference to ensure that the topics were timely and impactful. Drew states, “addiction is interwoven in so many aspects of our society… the conference’s mission is to raise awareness of drug and alcohol issues as well as “process addictions” in the community and to identify solutions that we all need to be a part of.” Whether you are a parent, school personnel or professional in the field of drugs and alcohol, you will learn valuable information by attending the Council on Chemical Abuse Annual Conference.
15 minutes | Sep 23, 2016
Certified Recovery Specialist at Work
Mike Reese retired from the City of Reading in 2011. It was not long after his retirement that he began contracting with the Council on Chemical providing information, education and raising awareness about problem gambling. Mike says problem gambling is much like other behavioral addictions in that is affects that part of the brain he likes to call “the fun center”. Mike shares his expertise with many community residents, including older adults, youth, professionals, and individuals attending community health fairs. A strong advocate for helping people get well, Mike also works for TASC, providing services for the project, Warm Hand-off. Collaboration between the local hospitals, Council on Chemical Abuse and TASC, the Warm Hand-Off project provides immediate support and help for individuals who come to the emergency room as the result of an overdose. Sharing experience, strength and hope, Mike provides support and information to the patient and encourage them to embraces the treatment process to get well. “ I talk to the disease… people I deal with are under the influence. It is their disease talking, not them”
16 minutes | Sep 15, 2016
Helping Others; Giving Back
Easy Does It, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals transform from a life of self-destruction and a world of purpose, hope and renewal. “All of the staff are in recovery”, states Phil Bennet, Case Manager at Easy Does It, Inc. – Walnut Street. That is a plus when you are working with individuals who are uncertain about living without mood altering chemicals. Easy Does It, Inc. can provide food, clothing, shelter and supportive services up to 62 men and women. Residents are responsible for maintaining appointments, seeking employment, attending counseling sessions, going to 12-step help meetings and other tasks which are instrumental to improving their quality of life. The commitment to Easy Does It, Inc is voluntary. Phil states the work that he is doing at Easy Does It, Inc is like paying it forward. “ I understand where they are. I am able to remember what it was like sitting on the other side of the desk… I can share my experience… I have empathy from having been there.”
14 minutes | Sep 9, 2016
Camp Joy – A Path to a New Life in Recovery
Lee Cruz is a case manager at the Camp Joy Recovery Housing facility which is operated by the YMCA of Berks County. Lee says he was a previous resident at the YMCA, after receiving his 3rd DUI, before becoming a case manager. Today, a person in long- time recovery, Lee says he believes in the value of one person helping another. Individuals who come to Camp Joy are oftentimes involved with the criminal justice system. “Guys coming to Camp Joy are coming from a place they really don’t want to be.” Support, goal planning, skill building, counseling, and so much more are available to those participating in the housing program. Lee says, residents may enter the housing program hesitant and reluctant at first but eventually leave with new perspectives and purpose. “Working with people with these issues helps me stay clean… reminds me when I was in that chair needing help.”
22 minutes | Aug 29, 2016
Brandywine Heights Town Hall Meeting Leads to Active Community Task Force
In this interview, Brandywine Area Heights School District Superintendent and Task Force President, Andrew Potteiger, and Parent Volunteer and VP of the Task Force, Maria Winkler, talk with Jennifer about the work the task force has done and the history of how it began. Maria says the task force’s work resembles building bridges between agencies, organizations, churches, school, business, community, clergy, police, DA, etc. Since it’s conception the task force has done work within the school with prevention education, worked with the Council on Chemical Abuse to have educational opportunities for parents, started an after-school program, and planned many events in the Brandywine Heights Community. For more information about Brandywine Heights Community Task Force, you can visit them online at www.bhctaskforce.org
25 minutes | Aug 21, 2016
Boyertown PAYS Task Force Does Big Things
Communities across America are working to promote safe streets and safe spaces for youth to grow. A perfect example is what is happening in the town of Boyertown. School administrators, parents, law enforcement, youth and social service agencies meet on a monthly basis to address challenges in the community . The Boyertown PAYS Task Force was formed in 2013. Assistant Superintendent of Boyertown School District Rob Scorboria and School Counselor Marilee Cassidy said the results of student surveys encouraged the planning and implementation of school and community related programs. The evidence based programs were implemented to address mental health, drug and alcohol use and decision making skills. Securing grant funding has enabled the group to expand programs and initiatives aimed to improve the overall wellness of young people in the Boyertown Area School District. In recognition of the great work being done in the community, the Boyertown PAYS Task Force received the Bud Haines Community Service Award at the 2015 Council on Chemical Abuse Annual Awards Luncheon. Rob Scoboria says the overall involvement of committed and talented individuals giving of their time and sharing expertise has been instrumental to making connections as well as capitalize on resources. For more information about the great work happening in Boyertown, visit their website at www.boyertownasd.org
11 minutes | Aug 5, 2016
You are never too Young to Lead.
As Co-President of Project Peace, Vilma is a strong advocate for change. She wants everyone to see the City of Reading as she sees it, a place of opportunity and hope. “We try to get to the underlying cause of violence in hopes of overcoming it.” Vilma says she gets tired of hearing about the negativity charged against the school district and the city and desires to show the positive aspects of change. Vilma works alongside her peers to plan, strategize, and implement projects and activities that demonstrate positivity within the community. Vilma states, “I want Reading to be a place people want to visit and love and be proud of where you come from.” Project Peace has gained recognition by Caron Treatment Centers as an Unsung Hero for its role in prevention. Members of Project Peace participate in Anti-Drug Marches, speaking engagements at elementary school and national leadership trainings. This summer, several members representative of Project Peace will attend the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Leadership Institute to participate in a national training geared toward educating communities about the dangers of prescription drugs and the importance of proper disposal of unused medications.
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