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CHESAPEAKE, Ohio — A faith-based volunteer group seeking to help families dealing with drug abuse programs has expanded to cover both Lawrence County Common Pleas Court and Lawrence County municipal court.

Called Tri State Family Connections, the group was started locally by Lawrence County Municipal Judge Don Capper several years ago. Now he is pushing for the group to expand to courtrooms in Cabell County and Boyd County, among others.

“We felt a need for the community to be involved in the solutions for people with substance abuse problems,” Capper said. “You can’t just rely on law enforcement and the judicial system to deal with this. It it too pervasive. We would love to spread this program throughout the Tri-State.”

The program received a $25,000 grant from the Pallottine Foundation of Huntington and hired Kim Gabbard to serve as coordinator.

“She’s doing a great job for us,” Capper said. “We are looking for other sources of funding and donations. We want to keep the program going.”

There currently are 15 volunteers working with the program. Officials hope to meet with Cabell County Circuit Judge Greg Howard this week to see about expanding the program in his court.

“We lost a year to COVID, but we are trying to expand,” Capper said.

Tri-State Family Connections works to help families dealing with drug problems, Gabbard said. “We go into the courtrooms and meet with families. “We want to make a difference for those dealing with drug and alcohol problems.”

Gabbard also talks to inmates at the Lawrence County Jail in an effort to get them into treatment and counseling. “It’s peer-support mentorship, but it’s also faith based,” she said. “We are trying to make the program self sustaining and we are looking for volunteers who can give a few hours a week to talk to people.”

“We offer help with resource information, prayer and a shoulder to lean on,” Gabbard said.

The program is an extension of what happens in the courtroom and his drug court, said Judge Andy Ballard. “It’s a way to work with families who are in the system. This is a volunteer group trying to help people in need. They show there’s someone out there who cares.”

Capper said the program is about showing love for your neighbor. “They work to try to help families find clothing and resources,” he said.

Two free seminars for potential volunteers are planned Sept. 20 and 21 at Tri-State Bible College in South Point. The programs begin at 6 p.m.

“We talk about what to do and what not to do for family members dealing with substance abuse,” Capper said.

The program also works with the Quick Response Team program in Lawrence County, where a deputy tries to meet with overdose victims and get them in treatment within 30 days, Capper said.

“We just let people know someone cares about them,” Capper said. “To come up with a solution, we all need to work together. I firmly believe people can turn their lives around.”

Tri-State Family Connections has its own Facebook page and is seeking tax-exempt status, he said.

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