Approximately 200 people filled Lakeview Terrace on August 31 to remember those whose lives were lost to accidental overdose in Lorain County. In 2020, 138 lives were tragically lost to accidental overdose. The families of those whose lives were lost as well as those in recovery spoke about their experiences. Several partners from the Lorain County Opioid Action Team provided resources.
Leading up to the event, a number of locations around Lorain County displayed 138 flags and signage in memory of the 138 lives lost in 2020 due to accidental overdose. On August 31, employees at the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County dressed in purple in honor of the lives lost. The Lorain County vigil was one of hundreds that were held around the world on August 31 for International Overdose Awareness Day.
Below are some scenes from the event.
The Lorain County Board of Commissioners voted today to allocate $4 million for a crisis stabilization center aimed at helping those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
“The $4 million in funding from Lorain County matches $4 million previously allocated by the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County for a crisis center,” said County Commissioner Michelle Hung. “The facility would help divert those struggling with addiction and mental health issues from the criminal justice system to get the help they need and ease the burden on law enforcement to deal with these medical issues in the midst of their day-to-day work in ensuring public safety.”
Commissioner Matt Lundy added, “A crisis stabilization center is not just a game-changer, it’s a life saver, and it’s critical to our local economy. Instead of flooding our courts and jails, we can dedicate ourselves to putting people back to work and most importantly back with their families. This is one of the most important decisions and investments this board will ever make to change lives in our county.”
The Lorain County facility will offer 32 beds, 16 for those struggling with mental health issues and 16 for those seeking help for addiction. It will be staffed by medical professionals specializing in addiction and mental health. The $4 million allocated from the County Commissioners is funded by dollars from Lorain County’s recent opioid settlement and from The American Rescue Plan.
“When a person experiences an addiction or mental health crisis, it may not always be clear to them, their loved ones and law enforcement how to handle these specialized medical issues,” said MHARS Board Executive Director Michael Doud. “This crisis center is a front door to access services in our community. It is an investment in modernizing the level of care we are able to provide Lorain County residents struggling with addiction and mental health issues.”
Today’s vote was preceded by a presentation to the Board of Commissioners from Executive Director Doud, The Nord Center’s CEO Don Schiffbauer, The LCADA Way’s President & CEO Dan Haight and MHARS Board of Directors President Dan Urbin.
Urbin, who shared with the Board of Commissioners the story of his road to recovery added, “My passion has been to help others who seek a life of recovery from their disease. Living a life of sobriety for me is best defined by being ‘considerate and understanding.’ We are pleased with the Commissioners’ decision to fund this important and long-awaited facility here in Lorain County. To have a crisis center in Lorain County would indeed be very considerate and, without a doubt, very understanding.”Learn More
On July 29, the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County bid farewell to former Interim Executive Director Elaine Georgas who retired after 30 years of service.
A retirement open house was held in her honor at the Amy Levin Center at the MHARS. Board of Directors President Dan Urbin presented her with a plaque in recognition of her service as well as a plaque that will be placed alongside a tree that was planted by the Amy Levin Center in her honor. County Commissioner Matt Lundy presented Georgas with a proclamation. Staff presented her with a gift on their behalf.
Below are scenes from the event.
The Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County will be joined by fellow Lorain County Opioid Action Team partners to hold a vigil on August 31 on International Overdose Awareness Day. The vigil will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Lakeview Terrace at Lakeview Park in memory of the 138 lives tragically lost in Lorain County in 2020 due to accidental overdose.
“Each year, the number of Lorain County residents who die from accidental overdose continues to rise and it is a problem not only in our area but around the country,” said MHARS Executive Director Michael Doud. “By increasing the public’s awareness of their proximity to those struggling with substance use disorder and reducing the stigma of drug-related deaths, we can all do our part to reduce the number of our loved ones lost to overdose.”
This year’s event will feature a candlelight vigil and shoe display memorializing those who have walked the road of addiction and died. In addition, those in recovery and the families of those lost to overdose will share their stories. Community partners will also be on hand to share important resources. The event is free and open to the public.
Leading up to the event, two free trainings will be held in August. All are invited to these trainings especially persons in recovery, the loved ones of those struggling with addiction, first responders, counselors, social workers, medical personnel, faith leaders, veterans, teachers, business leaders and community members:
- The Addiction Policy Forum and Recovery Ohio will conduct “enCompass: A Comprehensive Training on Navigating Addiction” on Aug. 26, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This virtual training is open to anyone interested in building skills to support and respond to someone in need of immediate help. RSVP at https://www.addictionpolicy.org/post/lorain-county-encompass-training.
- “Lorain County’s First Response Training Series: Preventing Opioid Deaths” will be held virtually on Aug. 17, 2021 from 1-3:30 p.m. Registration is open at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PAT21JZPTPe2zeu-4FMfQA
In 2019, there were a record 874 IOAD events of all kinds, held in 39 countries. Last year, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, the world united again to hold 602 events. People and communities come together annually to raise awareness of one of the world’s most urgent public health crises – one that, unfortunately, is only getting worse.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s most recent World Annual Drug Report, 585,000 people around the world died as a result of drug use in 2017. Statistics for 2020 show that the situation has become even more critical since the current pandemic began, decreasing tolerance of people who struggle with substance user disorder and disrupting both services and the drug supply chain.
Those who are unable to attend the event but would like to support from afar are welcome to light up their homes in purple on August 31. They are also encouraged to wear purple at home, school and/or work and share photos of their gatherings on social media with the hashtag #EndOverdose.Learn More
Former Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County Interim Executive Director Elaine Georgas has announced she will retire effective July 30. Please join us in celebrating her work and retirement at an open house on July 29 at the Amy Levin Center next to the MHARS Board offices. Drop-in hours are from 3-6 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.
In 1991, Georgas joined the staff at the ADAS Board of Lorain County and became its Executive Director in 1999 until it merged with the county mental health board in 2019. Click here to read more about her retirement announcement.
Although an RSVP is not required, it is appreciated. Please RSVP via Eventbrite by clicking here.
If you are unable to attend or would like to record or write a farewell message, please visit our Kudoboard.Learn More
LORAIN, OHIO – Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County former Interim Executive Director Elaine Georgas has announced she will retire effective July 30.
“It has been a privilege to serve in various roles over my career to build systems and services that enhance Lorain County’s system of care for prevention, treatment and recovery services to support our residents and their families,” Georgas said. “I cherish the expertise and friendships from our board’s committed staffs and board members, community providers, city, county and state leadership – who I worked alongside – to accomplish what we have done together. My future is still being written.”
Following the merger of the former Lorain County Board of Mental Health and the Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services (ADAS) Board of Lorain County in 2019, Georgas led the newly formed MHARS Board for more than two years as interim Executive Director. In that time, she helped the new MHARS Board navigate the challenging process of merging two staff teams, a new Board of Directors, an integrated budget, blended roster of service providers and consolidated locations among other things. During the process, the MHARS Board also was responsible for communicating those changes to the community, governmental leadership, partner agencies and countless other stakeholders. In early 2021, following an extensive search with the aid of a consulting firm, the Board of Directors announced it had selected a new Executive Director to fill the role, Michael Doud.
“I sincerely thank Ms. Georgas for all she has done to merge the two boards. She has laid a good foundation for the MHARS Board’s important work as we continue to move forward,” Doud said. “I also thank her for her 30 years of service with the ADAS and MHARS Boards on behalf of our staff and the countless others whose lives were bettered by her work.”
In 1991, Georgas joined the staff at the ADAS Board of Lorain County and became Executive Director in 1999 until the merging of the two boards. She holds a B.A. in Finance from Cleveland State University and an Associate of Arts degree from Lorain County Community College.
Some of her civic and other accomplishments include the following:
- Member of Lorain Rotary Club. Past Secretary/Treasurer – Lorain Rotary Memorial Scholarship
- Lorain County Children and Families Council – Past President (2003) and Secretary (2008- 2021)
- Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities – Past president 2018/2019, former chair – Recovery Oriented System of Care Implementation Committee
- Founder – Communities That Care of Lorain County (2003) Lorain County’s Drug Free Communities Coalition and lead developer: Lorain County Opioid Action Team
- Member – Ohio division of Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center – Regional Advisory Board
- Appointed to serve on Ohio’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (Governor Bob Taft)
- Served on development team for SB 57 – a pilot initiative for Lorain County’s First Responders – including law enforcement- to carry and use the life saving device Naloxone in 2013.
- Successful Grant writer securing $15 million in state/federal funding initiatives to benefit Lorain County’s substance abuse and mental health prevention, treatment and recovery services
“I have known and worked with Ms. Georgas for about 15 years, with both the MHARS board and the former ADAS board. In that time, she has demonstrated a strong knowledge of substance use disorders and mental health issues as well as a passion for helping others. She has always gone above and beyond to get the job done,” said MHARS Board of Directors President Dan Urbin. “I wish her well on her retirement and thank her for her service to Lorain County.”
Please save the date for a farewell event that will be held in recognition of Georgas’s tremendous work. All who would like to wish her well are invited to an open house on July 29. More info will be posted soon on the MHARS website at www.mharslc.org.
At its regular monthly meeting on June 24, the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County’s board of directors selected new leadership for the 2022 Fiscal Year. They will assume their roles beginning on July 1, 2021.
“Congratulations to the board of directors’ officers on their leadership roles. We thank them for their continued support of the MHARS Board,” said Executive Director Michael Doud. “I look forward to working with them as we continue our important work throughout Lorain County.”
The new executive leadership team includes:
- Daniel Urbin, Chairperson: Daniel T. Urbin, an Avon Lake resident, served as a Board Member of the former Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services (ADAS) Board and Lorain County Mental Health Board (LCMHB) before their merger as the MHARS Board. Urbin has 38 years of experience working with individuals on their journeys to recovery. His previous experience also includes work with the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Drug Court, Prison Ministry and as a Board Member of Lorain/Medina Community Based Correctional Facility (CBCF). He is a Certified Peer Supporter, attended the National Conference for Addiction in Washington DC and is past President of Leadership Lorain County.
- Regan Phillips, Vice Chairperson: Regan Phillips, of North Ridgeville, is the City of Elyria’s Executive Administrator for the Council Clerk’s Office. Prior to her position with the City, she had extensive experience with nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the YWCA, where she served as Program Director. She currently serves as the President of the African American Community Fund, an affiliate fund of the Community Foundation of Lorain County. Phillips currently serves as the Lorain Section National Council of Negro Women President and previously served as 2nd Vice President for the NAACP. In addition, she has served on numerous boards including Leadership Lorain County, Elyria Kiwanis and the Urban League Guild. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Steve, and her daughter, Angel.
- Dr. Denise Eacott, Secretary: Dr. Denise Eacott, a Lorain resident, is the owner of Mindful Wellness Psychological Services, LLC in Amherst. She is a licensed psychologist with 20 years of experience in psychology and counseling throughout Northeast Ohio. She is a graduate of Cleveland State University (CSU), from which she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Arts in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and her Doctorate in Urban Education with a specialization in counseling. Dr. Eacott’s previous volunteer work includes service on the former Lorain County Board of Mental Health, CSU’s Counseling Center and CSU Student Life’s advisory committee.
- David Ashenhurst, Chief Governance Officer: David Ashenhurst, of Oberlin, will continue his role as the MHARS Board of Directors Chief Governance Officer. He is the founder and president of the nonprofit Oberlin By Design, Inc. He has extensive experience in the realm of nonprofit administration with the Pew Charitable Trusts, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Rotary International. Ashenhurst is also a past member of the Oberlin City Council and former executive director of the Nord Family Foundation. Highlights of his volunteer experience include work with the former Lorain County Board of Mental Health, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lorain County Board of Elections, Friends of Oberlin Underground Railroad Center, Inc. and Ohio Citizen Action.
In addition, the MHARS Board staff and its board of directors thank outgoing members Brandon Bobbitt and Dr. Tracey Frierson for their service to the board. Their terms will expire June 30, 2021. At the June 24 meeting, Mike Babet was sworn in, replacing the position to be vacated by Dr. Frierson. The Membership Committee of the Board of Directors is working to fill the position left by Bobbitt.Learn More
The Lorain County Opioid Action Team (LCOAT), which includes the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County and Lorain County Public Health (LCPH), held two pop-up clinics in June to distribute life-saving Narcan kits in Elyria and Lorain.
Here is a look at how many double-dose nasal spray Narcan kits were distributed:
- Elyria on June 4-6: 157 kits
- Lorain on June 11-13: 208 kits
- In total, 365 kits were distributed over the two weekends
In addition to distributing the kits, the team trained visitors on how to use the kits. The Narcan kits come in the form of a nasal spray that is easy-to-use and designed to be administered by non-medical personnel. In total, 282 people were trained on how to use the kits.
Anyone who would like a kit but was unable to pick one up at a pop-up clinic is welcome to request that a kit be mailed to them. Get training and submit a kit request at LorainCountyHealth.com/opioids. Visit LCPH at 9880 Murray Ridge Road in Elyria on weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to get Narcan training and pick up a Narcan rescue kit. Call 440-322-6367 to make an appointment after hours.
Follow the MHARS Board Facebook page for more info on Narcan distributions.Learn More
On June 1, 2021, Pamela Waite stepped down from her board position on the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board. Since its merger in July 2019, she had served as the Board’s vice chairperson. Pamela served on the former Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County since 2016 and prior to ADAS merging with the Lorain County Board of Mental Health in 2019.
“Pamela continued to ensure that the Boards focused on client-centered, outcome-driven service delivery,” said, Executive Director Emeritus, Elaine Georgas.
Pamela has an extensive background in advocacy, nursing and mental health. The MHARS Board staff and board thank her for her service and lending her expertise. She will be missed. The board has begun its internal process for filling her position as vice chairperson.
This week, the MHARS Board welcomed its new Executive Director Michael Doud. Interim Executive Director Elaine Georgas will assist in Doud’s transition.
“Michael brings to the job an exceptional combination of energy, sensitivity, and proven leadership. Both the Board and Staff are impressed with his extensive knowledge of Northeast Ohio, his three decades of service within the mental health/substance abuse area, and his strong management skills,” said Board Chair Dr. Hope Moon. “We expect Michael to not only continue the MHARS Board’s excellent programs, but to work with partners and funders to help expand the MHARS Board’s programs to more people in need.”
The MHARS Board was also joined by a new Communications and Community Relations Director, Nancy Kelsey, in May. Nancy brings a diverse background of experience to this position.
Most recently, she served as the Assistant Director of Communications for the City of Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s office starting out as its Social Media & Digital Communications Manager. Her previous experience includes communications work with Cleveland State University’s Division of University Engagement and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. In addition, she has nearly 10 years of experience as a reporter working in newsrooms around the country for news services, print, radio and digital media. She also spent two years working as an AmeriCorps volunteer teacher on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She resides in Cleveland with her husband and two dogs.Learn More