Fighting recidivism: UMADAOP lands $750,000 grant

By J Swygart -



LIMA — Individuals in Allen, Auglaize and Hardin counties returning to their communities after serving time in jails or prison will have extra resources at their disposal with the announcement Tuesday that the Lima Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program, or UMADAOP, has been awarded a $750,000 federal grant aimed at reducing recidivism.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the three-year grant was issued through the U.S. Department of Justice as part of the Second Chance Act community-based reentry program.

UMADAOP Executive Director Myrtle Boykin-Lighton was almost giddy Tuesday when speaking about the grant.

“We are so excited. Federal grants are so competitive. We’re just so happy,” she remarked.

The grant funds will allow UMADAOP to add two part-time case managers, three part-time peer support staffers and a full-time administrator for the new ARISE project made possible by the receipt of grant funds.

Boykin-Lighton said the agency hopes to be able to assist up to 90 people annually in the three-county area as they make the often-difficult transition from penal institutions to day-to-day life in their respective communities.

“When writing the grant we didn’t want a pie-in-the-sky number (of people to be served) so we reached out to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to see how many people were coming home from state institutions each year. We were hoping to come up with a plausible number of people we can work with in a beneficial partnership,” the director said.

“We will provide case management services that revolve around breaking down barriers faced by people leaving prison or jail and addressing their primary needs — from housing to employment to something as simple as getting an ID,” Boykin-Lighton said. “We also help them re-integrate into a family setting, which can sometimes be difficult if they’ve been away for five or six years and suddenly return to a house with teenagers, for instance.”

Boykin-Lighton said mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent as well. She hopes the grant funding will allow staff to make sure returning community members get the help they need.

“I called the Mental Health Board this morning to let them know about the grant,” Boykin-Lighton said. “Our whole goal is to partner with them. This doesn’t work if we don’t all work together. We already have a great relationship with the drug courts and I’m looking forward to putting more people to work to help those coming home from the (penal) institutions.”

The statewide charter for UMADAOP, created in 1979, states that a primary purpose of the agency is to “provide culturally appropriate prevention services to African and Hispanic American communities in Ohio.”

Boykin-Lighton said the agency’s outreach is much broader than the charter implies.

“Lima is unique and much more multi-cultural,” the director said. “We do a lot of work in rural communities. We’ve always worked with all races and cultures.”

Portman called the grant “great news” for Northwest Ohio.

“I applaud the Department of Justice for providing Ohio with much-needed resources to help reduce recidivism of those formerly incarnated,” he said in a prepared statement. “Given the extremely concerning number of overdose deaths in the past year, programs like these play an important role in improving lives and communities and work towards addressing the demand side of this country’s drug epidemic.”


By J Swygart

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