This week, a number of organizations are hosting events to spotlight Ohio In-Demand Jobs Week. Officials are calling it “a statewide celebration of jobs, industries and skills on-demand.” With that in mind, state and local public health advocates gathered Wednesday at the Daybreak shelter for runaway and homeless youth in Dayton. The event was centered around the importance of steady employment in helping young people get back on their feet after drug addiction.
Among the speakers, was 24-year-old Jay Paxson. He told attendees what the Daybreak program has done for him as he closes in on a year in recovery from homelessness and heroin addiction.
“I feel like I was absolutely at the bottom of the barrel and I never thought that I could ever dig myself out,” he says. “And coming here, and the people, and the atmosphere, and just the tools that they give you - you do it yourself and they stand you up and then you walk on your own two feet - and I'm where I am today because of Daybreak.”
The Daybreak shelter has been helping young people like Paxson since it opened its doors in 1975. Joan Schiml is chief development officer.
“Anyone can come to our doors in any state, any youth who needs assistance in whatever state,” Schiml says. “I mean if you come and you are in the throes of an addiction or in the throes of even withdrawal, we want you here because we want you to be safe and we want to figure out where you need to go next and how we can help you.”
Daybreak is open 24 hours a day and has a staff of more than a hundred people to help carry out the group’s mission of operating an emergency shelter and housing facilities and jobs programs.
The organization also conducts street outreach efforts to connect with homeless youth and find them safe living spaces.
Other speakers at the Wednesday event were Linda Kramer, CEO of Daybreak, Sandra Brasington, the Western Ohio Regional Liaison from Governor Mike DeWine’s office. Alisia Clark, Assistant Director of Community Planning & Collaboration, Ohio Mental Health Advocacy Services (MHAS) and Helen Jones-Kelley, Executive Director, for Montgomery county’s Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS).
Jones-Kelley said she was moved by Jay Paxson’s story and those of other young people facing addiction.
“No story is exactly the same as the last so, yes it does get emotional when you hear young people talk about their journey,” she says. “Especially when you see them at the other end of that journey and see them being self-sufficient, able to be articulate about what has happened to them, and have a plan, you know, what are the next steps. We’re successful because we have plans for our next steps and it's great to see young people who've been able to reclaim their futures.”
The executive director said she believes, statewide, organizations like Daybreak, also working to overcome homelessness and addiction were working well together in fighting the opioid epidemic but that other drugs are moving in and the fight was far from over.