GALLIA COUNTY — The Gallia Citizens for Prevention and Recovery (CPR) recently met, virtually, to discuss ways of engaging with the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s still not the preferred way of conducting our meetings,” Thom Mollohan, the CPR Chairman, said, “but I do deeply appreciate the fact that you’re taking the time to participate in not just a conversation, but a conversation that leads to action and helps our community to address proactively the various problems and challenges we’re facing, especially right now in the time like this when it’s very difficult to know for sure how to do the things we’ve done in the past, and also in a time like this of deep division.”
CPR meets monthly to discuss changes and brainstorm ways of engaging with people in Gallia County. The recent meeting focused on ways of continuing to engage with the community during the pandemic, which has forced many social events that would ordinarily take place in person online. Attendees emphasized the effect the current pandemic and other uncertainty have had on members of the community.
“The emotional isolation that a lot of people are experiencing on top of the anxiety of the times…It really inflames the at-risk factors that we associate with suicide in particular…and substance abuse and vulnerability to human trafficking,” Mollohan said.
The uncertainty also adds to difficulty in deciding plans in the coming months. Shelly Sizemore, who works with Field of Hope and does drug and suicide prevention efforts with youth through the Gallia Youth Coalition noted that the uncertainty about how the school year will commence is causing the group to think of different ways to engage. Sizemore is hopeful that online interactions will still yield positive results, and the group has been meeting virtually.
“As far as our meetings and moving forward with our plans, we’re having a really good response still,” Sizemore said. “I think they’re wanting to be a part of something to make a change right now because everything is so upside-down in the world.”
Additionally, CPR worked with Teen Institute to hold a virtual retreat. Over 40 people attended.
CPR’s suicide prevention coalition also plans to distribute resources to funeral homes that might be given to those who have recently lost someone to suicide, as those who have lost someone in this way are at-risk to suicide.
A presentation was also given by Dr. Christi Bartman about human trafficking in Ohio, with the hopes of forming an Appalachian coalition against human trafficking. More on this presentation in an upcoming edition.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.