By Dedra Cordle
An effort is underway to make addiction recovery services and mental health programs more accessible to residents of the village of Urbancrest.
On May 10, members of the health and safety committee spoke before the full body of council at its regular meeting, stating their desire to see the implementation of these vital services be made a priority by the legislature.
“This is a major issue,” said committee member and councilman Lacy Wallace Jr. “Rather than be proactive – which is something I’ve always preached about being – this here is a reactive type of request because we should have been more proactive already.”
The members of the committee were compelled to ask the body to be ready to put their full power behind this effort as the community recently lost a young member of the village to a suspected drug overdose, he explained.
“I can’t – and I know we all can’t – just sit around and watch another person die from this disease of addiction, from these diseases of our mental health,” Wallace said in an interview after the meeting.
He said there are no “safety nets” within the community; no local service they can turn to during their time of need.
While he mentioned the county and state does provide addiction recovery services and mental health programs, he does not want members of the village to have to travel “far and wide” to receive help and care.
“We don’t want to have to keep sending our people out to get help when things could or when things should be offered here in their community,” said Wallace. “We have to look out for our own people and create these safety nets for them right here.”
According to Wallace, the committee would like to see the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings within the community. This action can be done without the council’s assistance, but Wallace said he would like to have their feedback on where meetings should be held.
During the discussion, councilman Steven Larkins said he believes a number of the local churches would be willing to be of service. He added that the Union Baptist Church used to run a successful program out of their location prior to the pandemic.
Wallace said while they do intend to ask the churches to provide space if necessary, he stressed having a church as the sole location may turn some people away.
“Some people won’t go into a church facility, whereas some people will go into a building.”
Wallace said he would like to see either the administrative building or the Vaughn E. Hairston Southwest Community Center become a destination for health and recovery. He added that the committee envisions collaboration with local addiction recovery services and mental health providers to run a variety of programs out of either location.
That action would require the approval of council as the village owns both properties.
Because the effort to bring addiction recovery services and mental health programs to the community is still in the research and pre-implementation phase by the committee, the council could not take any action to establish the programs. They did, however, express gratitude to the committee for spearheading this effort and said they look forward to finding a workable solution to bring these vital services to the community.
“We appreciate what the committee is doing and we believe it is something that is very much needed,” said Larkins.
Those in need can reach out to the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County at adamhfranklin.org or call 614-276-2273 for adults in crisis and 614-722-1800 for youth (17 and under) in crisis.