Keith A. Reynolds
Staff Writer

Lorain County Community College has recently formed a committee to formulate actions that would help them to stem the tide of the growing drug epidemic.

This push found its genesis in a panel hosted at the school by Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (LCADA) which included three students sharing their stories of dependence and abuse. The tales of these three students stuck with Dr. Marcia Ballinger, provost and vice president for academic and learner services at LCCC. “I haven’t stopped thinking about that since the day they told their stories,” she explained.

This has led her to facilitate a number of programs and ideas specifically designed to meet the needs of students.

The first of these initiatives was a certification program in Addiction Counselling. This was developed with Tom Stuber, executive director of LCADA.

“We had our first group of, I think, seven students graduate from the program just this past semester. And we have eight new students who enrolled in that, and so we’ll have resources of students who are being educated and trained in terms of ‘how do you counsel students within that area,’” she said.

That was just the beginning. A group was formed to discuss the options and to “start some initial planning of what might be some potential opportunities on our campus to address the issue from an educational perspective and at the same time have a resource for students.”

When asked for specifics, Ballinger shared that the group considered “a club or organization for students in recovery,” and had conducted “an initial national scan to see what are some other community colleges doing.”

They found that “there are some great national models for collegiate recovery centers so [they’re] looking at how [they] might be able to identify resources from the community to bring to campus to assist students in addition to the resources we already have through counseling, through women’s link, but to be more comprehensive and integrated and more proactive to provide that,” according to Ballinger.

In addition to that they “talked about having some type of space on campus that could be designated almost as a safe space where students may feel free to come together, perhaps, a component [they’ve] seen in some of the other national programs around peer-to-peer interventions and then working back with faculty who are interested,” Ballinger said.

One of the faculty members Ballinger mentioned was Dr. Mary DiGiandomenico of the Allied Health and Nursing Division, who described the progress to this point as such by saying that “because of the age group we have here, we want to be able to try to provide a space for individuals who are trying to fight addiction or are currently dealing with it.”

These initiatives and plans are all a part of the broader vision of LCCC. President Dr. Roy Church expressed this sentiment by saying, “as the community’s college, whenever there are community issues we generally are asked to play a part and so we take that seriously and try to marshal our resources as best we can to be helpful. And the reality is, our students are a part of the community. It’s all of us.”