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R.E.A.C.H. Project helping recovering addicts give back

5/8/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Shown above are members of R.E.A.C.H. with the Rev. Steve Lashbrook, pastor of Emmanuel United Church in Akron, shown third from right in the blue sweater.
Several R.E.A.C.H. members are pictured above working on a community project.
Photos courtesy of Interval Brotherhood Home’s R.E.A.C.H. Project
COVENTRY — The R.E.A.C.H. Project, a three-month-old social and spiritual after-care program sponsored by Interval Brotherhood Homes (IBH) Inc. Addiction Recovery Center, is helping recovering addicts stay on track to create a new life for themselves by focusing on community service.

According to program officials, IBH offers a system of services designed to provide long-term alcohol and drug addiction treatment and recovery. R.E.A.C.H., which stands for recovery, education, accountability, community and hope, was launched Feb. 11 through IBH, according to Mark Salchak, R.E.A.C.H. project manager.

Salchak, a real estate agent by trade who volunteered doing pastoral work at IBH from 2008 to 2013, until he was hired full-time for R.E.A.C.H., said he created the program after seeing the “hopeless and defeated” look of some IBH clients who had been arrested soon after finishing a program.

“I decided we had to do something, and the board approved this plan,” said Salchak “This program provides a platform for our graduates to stay busy, build a work ethic and develop a sense of togetherness and support while they seek employment after our residential treatment program,” said Salchak. “Boredom and rejection are the biggest offenders post-treatment, and we try to offer an alternative.”

Salchak explained the program, which started thanks to a grant from the Akron Community Foundation, involves giving a group of individuals who have completed the treatment program an opportunity to serve the community. Through partnerships formed with area churches, service organizations and other groups, individuals in the program volunteer for community service work. According to program officials, some of the partners to date have included the Battered Women’s Shelter, Good Neighbors, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Millheim United Church, Emmanuel United Church and Catholic Charities.

“We volunteer our time as a group in service work for the community at large,” said Salchak. “We have helped with food distribution, hot meal service, cleaning and painting. To date, the R.E.A.C.H. Project has been involved in over 700 hours of volunteer work.”

Salchak called the program “spirituality in motion,” and he said the results are “excellent” — 89 percent to 92 percent of the participants stay sober if they engage in three activities.

“We are trying to keep our graduates engaged and give them a sense of community,” Salchak. “Our graduates are loving it, and it is working because they feel connected, loved and a part of something when they work together.”

The organization is seeking more partners for the program. In addition, donations are needed to help pay for food for the participants while working on a project, small tools and other materials that may be used on a job site, and the fuel used in transportation via a van.

According to IBH officials, IBH is funded in part by the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board; city of Akron; other agencies and foundations; and private donors. For more information about IBH or to make a donation, visit www.ibh.org or by call 330-644-4095.

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