GLOUSTER, Ohio — A new electronic messaging board debuted in Glouster this week to promote substance use prevention resources and education along the town’s main thoroughfare.
After a ribbon cutting ceremony for the sign on Wednesday, Becky Handa, president of the Tomcat Bridgebuilders, told the Independent, “A lot of times, people in this community — there’s so many resources, and they just don’t know… and so, that’s what I thought this this board can do for the community: Let people know that there are resources out there if you’re ready for that road to recovery.”
Handa sought funding for the project through the Tomcat Bridgebuilders after learning of a $50,000 grant opportunity through the Ohio Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Prevention and Promotion. The Tomcat Bridgebuilders is a community organization focused on substance use prevention, often in partnership with Trimble Local Schools, where Handa works for Athens County Children Services as a school outreach worker.
Jen Morel, managing director for the Ohio Center of Excellence, said the center funded the project “because this will stay with the community forever.”
“It’s flexible. It can adapt and change with the needs of the community, and the messages can change,” said Morel. “Really, kudos to the entire community for coming together to make this happen, because that is the whole goal of the center: support communities in where they need to be in the initiatives they want to see happen.”
The board will display a variety of messages, including promoting local resources, such as naloxone giveaways at the Glouster Public Library, said Handa. Naloxone is a drug which helps reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
The sign, set within a brick foundation topped with local Trimble brick, is located at 27 S. High St. in Glouster, near the village’s border with Trimble. The Athens County Board of Commissioners owns the property, said Athens County Commissioner Chris Chmiel. Chmiel attended the ribbon cutting and said he hopes the messaging can help “promote healthier lifestyles” and ultimately reduce drug-related arrests in the area.
Glouster Mayor Sam Sikorski wrote a letter of support for Handa’s grant application and also attended Wednesday’s ceremony.
“It helps people that really need this information that don’t have access to it,” Sikorski said, pointing to difficulties in connecting residents to local resources given the village’s limited access to internet and quality local news. “Hopefully, it’ll help people that want to start getting off drugs, maybe take that route, so that’ll help us out in the community.”
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The electronic messaging board is one of many projects led by the Tomcat Bridgebuilders. The group hosts an after-prom event for Trimble students, creates educational materials, holds an essay contest and seeks grant funding to support healthier living in and around the Trimble community, among other activities, said Handa.
The Tomcat Bridgebuilders meets at the Glouster Public Library on the first Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m.
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