Session to offer connections for aspiring recovery programs

Addiction recovery services have challenges of their own, not unlike any small business, and the Marietta College entrepreneurship program will take a look at ways to meet those challenges Thursday.

The Pio Pitch program offers entrepreneurs a chance to connect and brainstorm with members of the community and experts. For Thursday’s session, which is scheduled from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Cooper Auditorium, room 124 at Thomas Hall on the campus, community members and experts will analyze From Prison to Purpose, a recovery program directed at people discharged from incarceration, and Mid-Ohio Valley Friendship Home, a long-term residential recovery center specifically for adults with children.

Jackie Khorassani, the director of the college’s entrepreneurship program, said community service projects that aspire to become nonprofit agencies need many of the same resources and assistance that small businesses need.

“I met Shay Dunn (founder of From Prison to Purpose) when she gave a talk about her idea, and I really liked her story. I thought we should help her spread the word and put her in touch with people who might be able to help,” Khorassani said.

Dunn, who is herself recovering from substance use disorder and has spent time in prison, established the service when she realized that few services existed for people being discharged from jail or prison who also were in need of help with addiction problems.

“I want to bridge the gap between addiction recovery and jails, to help people who want to have successful lives,” Dunn said Tuesday. “Where we fall short is that we don’t have a location, a place, other my home or one weekly meeting at a church. We’re trying to expand – I’ve got a Facebook page, and I get hundreds of messages a week.”

Khorassani said a Pio Pitch session could help Dunn connect with people who can advise her on setting up the organization as a nonprofit and sketch out a business structure.

“She has the passion and the ability to connect with people in that situation, but not the expertise on how to run an organization, or the background in counseling and psychology,” she said.

“My dream this whole time has been to become a nonprofit with a resource center, a place where we can employ people who help people, with peer support on call 24-7, and even beyond that, to teach court systems in other states how to deal with people who are struggling when they get out of jail,” Dunn said. “People want to help, but they don’t know how.”

Dunn said she’s looking for guidance on the business structure.

“I have a lot of support. People offer to donate, but I can’t accept donations because we’re not a nonprofit yet,” she said.

Khorassani said the Pio Pitch session will have two segments, one for Dunn’s organization and the other for Patrice Pooler’s brainchild, the Mid-Ohio Valley Friendship Home, which is a long-term addiction recovery residence for people with children.

“We’re not going to solve all their problems, but we can begin the process of putting them in contact with people who can help,” Khorassani said. “Whether it’s for-profit, nonprofit, an organization is an organization, those are just tax status categories. They still have to watch where money comes from and where it goes.”

The chance to help recovery organizations is timely, she said.

“This is definitely what Pio Pitch is about, filling gaps in needs and services,” she said. “I hope we can help them out, help them meet the right people with the expertise and resources they need.”

The event is open to the public and everyone is welcome.

“It’s community brainstorming, an informal session,” she said.

Michael Kelly can be contacted at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.

If you go

• What: Pio Pitch, Marietta College entrepreneurship program.

• When: 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday

• Where: Cooper Auditorium, 124 Thomas Hall, Marietta College.

• Who: Anyone can attend.

• Agenda: Brainstorming session for ideas to help From Prison to Purpose addiction recovery service and Mid-Ohio Valley Valley Friendship Home, a residential long-term recovery program for people with children.


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