MANSFIELD - With open arms and smiling faces, representatives of more than a dozen local agencies, organizations and churches gathered in Central Park on Saturday to share a message of hope for people struggling with drug addictions.

"All these agencies are here trying to help people," said Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon, one of the main speakers at the third annual Richland Redemption event, along with state Rep. Mark Romanchuk and state Sen. Larry Obhof. "In Richland County, the help is here it you want it. … A lot of people don't want help, but we need to be there for the people that do want help."

Among the help available Saturday to people with addictions and their families was 3C Counseling, Family Life Counseling, Mansfield Municipal Drug Court, Richland County Substance Abuse Court, N.A.M.I., Starfish Project of Richland County, Reaching Out, Gateway Resource Center, Come to the Well, Healing Hearts, 12 Steps for Jesus, Erase the Shame, Project One and 211.

"Every year I just pray that one person comes down to this event and gets help or that one person who might have become addicted turns away because of this," said Valerie Rust, intake coordinator for the Starfish project of Richland County and one of the coordinators of the event.

In addition to helping the addicted, the event serves as an opportunity for collaboration among the various groups working to help rid the community of addiction.

Sheldon said out of necessity his office is getting ready to start administering the overdose-reversing drug naloxone in October, adding that although the drug "is an enabler to some degree," it is saving many lives.

The sheriff's office, along with the Mansfield Police Department and other area law enforcement agencies, has united with other stakeholders in the community to form the Richland County Opiate Board, Sheldon said, but they can't solve the crisis alone.

"We can't arrest our way out of this problem," he said. "It's a medical problem that criminal justice has a huge part in trying to resolve."

Romanchuck said he would like to see more churches leading the charge to help people with addictions recover and to help prevent future addictions.

He said while legislators have passed laws to support prevention and treatment and to limit the availability of prescription drugs that make their way to the streets, the problem is growing, with eight Ohioans dying of overdoses every day.

"It's not going to be government that leads our way out of this," he said. "Everybody's got to get involved with this."

Rust said there is no shortage of ways people in the community can get involved to help combat drug abuse in Richland County, either by donating money to drug treatment and prevention efforts or by serving as a volunteer with an agency, organization or church.

"It doesn't have to just be Starfish. There's a lot of organizations that need help," she said.



By: Courtney Day, Reporter

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Starfish Project of Richland County, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.  Any amount donated is tax-deductible according to the IRS rules governing 501(c)(3) organizations. Every dollar not spent on our minimal administrative costs goes directly to the life-changing treatment of a member of our community.  Donate today by mailing a tax-deductible donation to:

Starfish Project of Richland County, Inc.

9 North Mulberry Street

Mansfield, Ohio 44902

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Starfish Project of Richland County, Inc.

Valerie Rust (Intake Coordinator):


Stan Rust (Intake Team member):



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9 North Mulberry Street

Mansfield, Ohio  44902