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Steps of Change highlights resources to addicts and their families

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    Lauri Laribee, right, director of Bellefaire JCB’s Medina office, lost her son to addiction last year. She attended Steps of Change on Saturday with volunteer Derek Welton of Medina and Dianne Pierce, a therapist at Bellefaire.

    BOB SANDRICK / GAZETTE

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    Jess Hazeltine, Medina County coordinator of OhioCAN, poses with Kip Erwin, manager of Serenite Restaurant & Culinary Institute in Medina. Hazeltine was key to bringing Steps of Change back to Medina County.

    BOB SANDRICK / GAZETTE

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    Chris Reid, performing as Twin B Project, appears Saturday at Steps of Change at Kenneth Dukes Stadium in Medina.

    BOB SANDRICK / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — About 15 service organizations that help those wrestling with alcohol and drug addiction were brought together Saturday at the Kenneth Dukes Stadium on Union Street.

The purpose of the gathering, called Steps of Change, was to make the public aware of the help that’s out there for addicts wanting to recover, said Jess Hazeltine, Medina County coordinator for OhioCAN, which with the Recovery Center of Medina County organized the event.

“Unfortunately, people don’t realize all the resources available,” Hazeltine said. “All the organizations here work together to provide a safety net for people struggling with addiction, so it’s nice to have them all in one place.”

Organizations setting up tents at Steps of Change included Medina County Job and Family Services; Hope and Healing, a battered-women’s shelter and rape crisis center serving Medina and Summit counties; the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities; the Medina County Health Department; and Spokes Caf←, an outreach of Peaceworks, a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for the developmentally disabled.

Also at Steps of Change were Hope Recovery Center, which is just starting to establish a location in Medina; OhioGuidestone, a counseling and treatment center for young people; and Bellefaire JCB, which provides behavioral health and substance abuse services.

Lauri Laribee, director of Bellefaire JCB’s Medina office, spoke at Steps of Change. She said that she has worked in addiction treatment and therapy for more than 20 years.

In July, Laribee’s son, Joe Hutzel, died due to addiction.

“He had been battling addiction for six years,” Laribee said. “His passing gave me a renewed purpose, and I threw myself into this work.”

Another speaker was Richard Sisson, a graduate of Serenite Restaurant and Culinary Institute, which is run by the Recovery Center. Sisson was in recovery when he studied at the restaurant.

The Steps of Change event also included games for children, live music, food and a reading of names of loved ones who died from, or are struggling with, addiction.

Organizers had planned to line the running track with shoes containing the names of people who died or have suffered from addiction. However, early in the day, Hazeltine said she wasn’t sure if attendees would bring shoes.

Hazeltine said OhioCAN, which assists those affected by substance abuse, organizes Steps of Change events every year in the counties that it serves. Those counties include Medina, Ashtabula, Columbiana, Erie, Licking, Mahoning, Portage, Ross, Sandusky, Stark and Summit.

It’s been at least five years since a Steps of Change event took place in Medina County because the chapter lost a coordinator. Hazeltine finally filled that role about a year ago. The Recovery Center became involved because, until about 10 days ago, Hazeltine was the center’s administrative manager.

“Recovery Center of Medina County just seemed like a natural partner,” Hazeltine said.

Contact reporter Bob Sandrick at (330)721-4060 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.
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