Letter to the Editor: There are no ‘throw away’ people

Occasionally, I'll place some 'Letters to the Editor' online. This is one such letter. A story regarding the Dec. 1 event will be published in Friday's edition.

Dear Editor,

As the Training Coordinator for OFC I have trained several young women at Back on the Rack who were referred by Chenango County’s Drug Court and the Alternative to Incarceration Programs. Participants avoid jail time if they are able to complete a year of sober living that is broken down in four phases. There are a minimum of ten hurdles they must leap in a single week, week in and week out, in order to remain in good standing with the Court.

This summer I joined the official Drug Court Advisory Panel which is comprised of a multidisciplinary group of area professionals. We are tasked with reviewing the behavior of each Drug Court participant and advising the Judge Frank Revoir about sanctions meted out to those who’ve fallen out of compliance with the rules of the contract they signed upon entering the Drug Court Program. Acting as a job training specialist representing OFC, I bring to the table the eyes and ears of a potential employer; someone who is capable of evaluating the actions and demeanor of Drug Court participants. The majority of those in the program felony records that present very real barriers to gainful employment. I am able to offer job training at Back on the Rack, and upon completion help place the trainee in a paid position despite their criminal past. Six of the last seven young people who have trained at Back on the Rack went onto get a job.

My feeling is that there are no “throw away” people. Addiction, be it to alcohol, prescription medications, or heroin, which is dramatically rising in Chenango County, has taken over the lives of those in every socio economic class. Addiction does not discriminate and we must learn all that we can to have even a chance to combat it.

To that end, I have assembled a panel of individuals who will take on the role of panelists at an OFC sponsored community education forum about the alarming rise in addiction in our area. The forum will be free and open to the public on Tuesday evening December 1st from 6:30pm-8:30pm at Guernsey Memorial Library in downtown Norwich. I thank OFC’s management for understanding the need for this program and getting behind it.

Donna Wood-Craig

Opportunities for Chenango Training Coordinator

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