CAC: Working toward a drug-free community

The Community Action Commission of Fayette County is sharing information on its programs in recognition of this month being “Community Action Month.”

CAC, located at 1400 U.S. Route 22 N.W. in Washington Court House, recently celebrated its 55th anniversary. According to current CAC Executive Director Bambi Baughn, the local Community Action was incorporated on May 25, 1965 but began operations as a 501(C) in 1967.

As previously reported and according to the CAC website,, “the mission of the Community Action Commission of Fayette County is to combat causes of poverty, expand community services, and implement projects necessary to provide services and further community improvements. Its mission is also to consider the problems concerning youth, adults and senior citizens and deal with the prevention and solving of those problems.

“The development and management of affordable housing for special populations like individuals in recovery from substance abuse or mental illness, victims of domestic violence, the homeless and/or disabled, and low to moderate income individuals, families, and seniors is a specific purpose of the agency, as is the development of income-generating projects consistent with the purposes of the corporation which will increase funds available for services and reduce the agency’s dependence on public funds.”

Various officials from the different departments at Community Action sent information on their programs to the Record-Herald recently:

Drug Free Communities (DFC Program)

The Fayette County Prevention Coalition was formed from the growing need to address issues related to the drug crisis in Fayette County. The coalition works closely with schools, organizations and the county government to educate the community on the drug epidemic and harness positive partnerships to create change.

The prime focus of DFC is to reduce youth substance use within the county.

We have a Prevention Coalition that meets the first Wednesday of each month at 8 a.m. next door to the BMV, 105 East East St., that’s open to the public to join. Youth coalition members collaborate with the youth coordinator during these meetings to create activities to implement into the community and engage other youth to participate in sharing their vision.

There is a youth-led coalition at both Miami Trace High School and Washington High School. The Fayette County youth-led prevention coalition continues to make efforts to extend its growth between students.

Some of the activities the youth-led coalition are involved in includes a youth-led conference, sharing information on the program at public events, running or organizing fund-raiser type events for different demographics.

The DFC Project Director is Tina Scharenberg. Scharenberg submitted this information to the Record-Herald.

Pathways to Recovery (P2R)

P2R is a federally funded Peer Recovery Support Program through Community Action Commission of Fayette County (CACFC).

P2R originated in March 2019. Our program began with two Peer Recovery Specialists (PRS), Tina Scharenberg and Joe Cantrell. While Scharenberg has moved on to be the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Program director, Cantrell is currently the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Project Director.

P2R now has three Peer Recovery Specialists (PRS), but has an opening for a new PRS. Our Peer Recovery Specialists are Jessica Pfeifer, Brooke Truman and Rebecca Throckmorton.

Pfeifer dedicates much of her time to help coordinate PORT. Pfeifer began interning with P2R as a part of her school curriculum and has since obtained her PRS Certification.

Truman is the Health & Wellness Peer. She teams up with the Wellness Coordinator, Madison Hatfield, to help schedule and participate in Wellness activities.

Throckmorton is our newest PRS, and she is located at the Peace House, which is a Domestic Violence Shelter.

All three PRS have a lived experience with active addiction and/or Mental Health disorders and are now in long-term recovery. Each PRS works their own personal recovery program to maintain their sobriety.

Teresa Gray is the Behavioral Health Program Director over P2R. Teresa is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with a Supervisory Endorsement. She has been in the field for 13 years.

Janie Murphy is a Licensed Social Worker, who has been in the field for 30 years. She is the PRS Supervisor.

Transportation has been a major obstacle in the community. Our program includes two Transit Drivers, Gary Spurgeon and Jazmin Baker. Gary collaborates with CACFC’s Public Transportation to provide individuals access to ongoing counseling at treatment centers. Jazmin accommodates individuals in crisis situations, as well as everyday needs, such as medical appointments.

CACFC is the sub awardee of the Paint Valley ADAMH grant and OhioMHAS’ SOR 2.0 grant to provide the Health and Wellness Program. This program encourages individuals in recovery and/or treatment to participate in free, sober activities.

Hatfield and Truman work diligently in partnering up with local businesses and other organizations to be able to provide these activities for individuals. The Health and Wellness Program is all about supporting individuals in their recovery and encouraging them to connect with others in recovery to develop an even stronger sober support system.

It has been proven that the opposite of addiction is connection. Wellness activities consist of monthly art and cooking classes, free access to the local YMCA and bowling days at LeElla Lanes. The program provides one special outing each month. COSI, the U.S. Air Force Museum and the Newport Aquarium are just a few places we’ve taken our clients.

Joe Cantrell is also the coordinator of the Pathways Overdose Response Team (PORT).

PORT is a special program that reaches out to individuals within the community who have recently overdosed. PORT currently consists of a Paramedic, two Probation Officers, a Washington Court House City Police Officer, Peer Recovery Specialists, and Site Manager of Fayette Recovery Center (FRC).

Cantrell, Brian Carlson (Probation Officer with Washington Court House Municipal Court) and Ashley Roberts (Registered Nurse with the Fayette County Public Health) helped formulate our team. Probation Officer Jay Hicks, Officer Justin Everhart, Paramedic Hannah Dingman, and Minda Chrisman, with FRC, are heavily involved with PORT.

PORT reaches out to show that we are here to help, and we care. Stigma is the number one reason individuals with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) do not seek treatment. They feel ashamed and embarrassed. Our goal is to let people know we have Peers who have been where they are. Law Enforcement is here to show they have compassion for those struggling with SUD.

We meet individuals where they are, meaning we don’t try to force anyone into treatment services. We simply want those struggling to know we are here when they are ready to reach out. If perhaps an individual is not ready to commit to treatment, we promote harm reduction strategies. We are a Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone) Site. We provide free Narcan and trainings to community members and agencies.

It is vital for people to feel like they have someone in their corner and Peer Support is just that. The lived experience that they share instills a deep connection to those who are living in active addiction or are in recovery. For some, just the ability to relate to another person and see how they’ve overcome obstacles throughout their lives, is just what they need to take that first step towards recovery.

There are several ways to contact our PRS Program. Our Hope Line is available to call 24/7 at 740-463-1009. Our PRS are on call from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. We can be reached on Facebook via two separate pages, Fayette County Pathways to Recovery and Community Action Commission of Fayette County – CAC.

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Tip App can be downloaded from your phone’s App Store by searching “Fayette County Sheriff Ohio.” Individuals can submit referrals for themselves or loved ones in the “Ask for Help” portion of the Tip App. We receive referrals from family members, local hospitals, Probation Officers, etc. If you or someone you know is struggling with Substance Use Disorder, please reach out. If we can’t provide direct services, we’ll do everything we can to point you in the right direction.

Submitted by Joe Cantrell

Staff reports