Offering a ‘Dose of H.O.P.E.’


October will be a busy month for Nikki Virts, the founder of the local nonprofit Dose of H.O.P.E., who was recently named Fayette County coordinator for OhioCAN, a nonprofit that works with community members in counties across Ohio to “embrace, educate, and empower those whose lives have been affected by substance abuse disorder,” according to Virts.

On Oct. 10, she will host a pumpkin painting party for children who are being raised by family members due to their parents’ substance abuse, and for some of the children who attend the after-school program at the Rose Avenue Community Center. The event will be held at the center and will start at 6 p.m.

On Oct. 24, there will be an event to celebrate Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is an annual event that seeks to raise awareness of the problem of substance abuse and to educate people about the dangers of such behavior. The theme of this year’s Red Ribbon Week is “life is your journey, travel drug free.”(tm)

Virts said one of the inspirations for holding this event was that she “had people message me saying they don’t even know where to start talking with their kids [about drugs].”

The event will be held at the Rose Avenue Community Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It is open to children in grades 3 through 12 and to their parents as well. During the event, the kids will be served pizza, chips and soda, will have the chance to win door prizes, and will be educated on the dangers of substance abuse by professionals from Ross County. They’ll be broken up into two groups by age so that age-appropriate messaging can be tailored to the audience.

Virts said she also intends to have individuals who are in recovery share their stories with the kids. She hopes this will show them that recovery is possible.

“I really don’t want them to grow up and be the type where they shun those ones who need help,” she added. Virts also hopes that hearing from someone in recovery will help children whose parents are struggling with addiction. “I don’t want them to lose hope in their parents,” she said.

Virts said her inspiration for her work in the community is: “I just want to make a difference with the kids and the families. I know what they’re going through and I know how they’re feeling.”

Although October will be busy, Virts is already looking forward to the future, saying “there’s more to come.” Her plans include hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for what she calls “kinship families,” in which grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other families, are raising children due to their parents’ struggles with substance abuse. She also hopes to gather holiday gifts for these children.

Those interested in learning more about Dose of H.O.P.E. and OhioCAN and those interested in getting involved, can contact Virts at 740-463-9577.

By Megan Neary

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Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2

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