By MORGAN MANNS
The first local event in a series promoting prevention and education in the drug overdose epidemic is scheduled to take place this week.
Hosted by H.O.P.E. (Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education), It All Starts with One Pill is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Fostoria Intermediate Elementary School, 1202 HL Ford Drive.
Officials said the free event is open to the public and will cover prescription medicine’s role in opioid addiction.
“That’s where it all starts,” Amie Hathaway, H.O.P.E. president, said. “Legitimate prescriptions seems to be one of the main starting points where it all stems from. Heroin and opioids are very broad in who’s affected. The impact it has is not only on the individual but also on their families and the community. So we wanted to start at the beginning.”
Orman Hall, public health analyst for the Heroin Response Project, will be the guest speaker for the event, discussing how drug addiction starts with one pill and the important role prescription pills and pain killers play in addiction and drug overdoses.
Hall is responsible for assessing the scope of opioid addiction and evaluating treatment and law enforcement strategies, according to a biography. He previously worked with the Supreme Court of Ohio, overseeing the development of drug courts and other specialized dockets (2015-16); served under the Kasich administration as the director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (2011-15); and was the executive director of the Fairfield County ADAMH Board in Lancaster, OH (1989-2010).
Throughout his careers, he has focused on defining the scope of opioid addiction in Ohio and developing strategies for community education, prevention and treatment as well as convening a special panel of state and local experts to make recommendations about medication assisted treatment for opioid addicted drug court participants.
“He has lots of facts and statistics and I know that sounds boring but he takes data and makes it practical so that you have a better feel for what’s actually going on in the state,” Evelyn Marker, H.O.P.E. secretary, said. “There’s going to be something in his talk for everyone.”
Hall was contacted by Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team, after she discovered she would be unable to present at the meeting as planned.
Boxill is now scheduled to speak at the May event about the drug epidemic’s effect on children and families.
“She was instrumental in contacting him and bringing him here,” Hathaway said, noting Hall is easily Boxill’s “equal.”
A light dinner provided by the Fostoria Kiwanis Club will be offered from 5:30-6 p.m. prior to the program.
Additionally, those in attendance will have the opportunity to participate in an interactive survey regarding prescription medications and pain killers. The survey, which is voluntary and anonymous, will be taken electronically before the presentation and will help guide the program toward the needs and interests of the audience.
An opportunity for Q&A will take place after the presentation.
“Our mission is to address the drug epidemic through educating the greater Fostoria community,” Hathaway said. “We’re hoping people come, hear the message and take away when they need in their lives.”
Formed in mid-2017, H.O.P.E. in Fostoria is a grassroots organization focused on education and prevention. It originated with the Fostoria Kiwanis Club and the United Way of Fostoria as officials began seeing a need in the community to address the rising heroin epidemic.
The Kiwanis Club first hosted a discussion on the local effects of the problem in June 2016, but soon realized the topic was too big for one entity. After reaching out to the United Way, the first meeting for the new organization took place in April 2017.
The committee now includes 13 members representing a cross-section of Fostoria from businesses to manufacturing to law enforcement to medicine to the schools to religious institutions and more.
Members include Hathaway, ReMax realtor and Fostoria Kiwanis Club past president; Marker, United Way of Fostoria executive director; Jennifer Abell, director of student services at Fostoria City Schools; Officer Brandon Bell with the Fostoria Police Department; Autumn Clouse, human resources for Mennel Milling; Andrea Cress, First Federal Bank branch manager; the Rev. Bernie Dickson with Fostoria Church of the Nazarene; Mircea Handru, executive director with Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot counties; Steve Lehmann, DC, private practice chiropractor; Amy Preble, director of Emergency and Dialysis Services at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital; Julie Reinhart, marketing for Mennel Milling; Ed Schetter, state executive director at Abate of Ohio and fleet sales manager for Reineke Findlay Ford; and Jason Yoakam, president/CEO of JYoakam Communications.
As a group, H.O.P.E. is committed to at least one year of education to the community. Events will also be planned in March, May, July, September and November.
“We see our role maybe getting bigger and constantly adjusting to the community’s needs,” Marker said.
“We’re looking for the community to direct us on their needs,” Hathaway added. “We want to present topics that are important to them and try to address those. … We made a commitment and we want to be fluid and meet those needs.”
For more information on the event or on H.O.P.E. in Fostoria, visit the HOPE in Fostoria Facebook page or call 419-435-4836.