Scioto Gives profiles: SOPAA, The Counseling Center, Operation Safety Net

By Ryan Ottney

September 29, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

The Scioto Foundation will offer Scioto County participating nonprofit organizations (NPOs) a new opportunity to raise money for their endowment funds when it sponsors “Scioto Gives,” a one-day matching gift program on Oct. 24, 2013.

Scioto Gives will establish a new partnership between local NPOs and the Scioto Foundation as it assists the nonprofits with their annual membership drives and helps smaller, grass roots NPOs accept online gifts. To implement the new idea, the Scioto Foundation has set aside $20,000 to use as matching money for 2013.

Contributions from donors will be received on the Scioto Foundation website, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 24. Donors can also drop checks off at the Foundation office at 303 Chillicothe St., in Portsmouth, or transfer stocks between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the designated day.

Sixteen non-profit organizations are participating in the campaign, and each week the Daily Times will profile some of them here.

Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association

The Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association (SOPAA) is a community-based board of directors who oversee the creation of the annual performing arts series presented at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. The board was formed from a merging of the Portsmouth-based Community Concert Association and the arts series at Shawnee State University in 2001.

The mission of SOPAA is to provide an affordable variety of outstanding performing arts presentations to enrich, educate, and entertain the people of the tri-state area. The members of SOPAA make a dedicated effort each year to reach diverse audiences, bring the performing arts into the lives of those who would otherwise never have such exposure, and involve all ages in the education and enjoyment of the arts.

“The SOPAA board feels its Classics, Variety and Broadway series provide an educational, enjoyable opportunity for all types of audiences,” Bob Mascari, president of the SOPAA Board, said. “SOPAA places a special emphasis on maintaining the importance of the arts, be it through the preservation of ‘classical’ performances such as orchestra, recitals, opera and dance, or through popular music performances like Broadway musicals and dramas.”

Additionally, SOPAA conducts annual cultural outreach projects that include taking visiting performers to area schools; arranging for meet-and-greet presentations with performers following their performances at the VRCFA; arranging for master classes and workshops from visiting dance and theater companies; and offering special ticket packages for students and children.

The Counseling Center

The Counseling Center offers a complete field of integrated health services to combat alcohol and drug addiction in the community. As part of that missing, the Center also offers mental health care and primary health care services at their Compass Community Health center on 11th Street. The program offers complete services to not only help them break their addiction, but also step back onto the right path to becoming a positive and successful member of society.

“Anyone who comes to our services sometimes comes without a set of clothes. If they’re a jail diversion client, they’re coming to our Second Chance center and often times they’re coming straight from jail or court. So we would provide clean socks, underwear, clothing, we feed people, we house people,” said Gina Collinsworth, of The Counseling Center. “If you can support them with housing, if you can support them with job skills, training, if you can help them get their GED; it’s kind of a lot of different pieces to treatment, other than just group counseling and therapy. It’s rebuilding a life.”

Collinsworth said the money donated through the Scioto Gives campaign will be used to cover the incidental costs associated with their integrated care, that are not covered by insurance or reimbursement programs. Programs like helping clients buy gas for their vehicle to go a job interview, coat drives and Christmas basket programs.

“Another group we offer is our Loved Ones group. That is a free organization for family members of somebody who is maybe in active addiction. Family members don’t get treatment. You don’t get reimbursed for helping family members deal with it. That’s what we do,” Collinsworth said.

She said without the help of community, these programs would not be possible.

“What makes The Counseling Center different than any other alcohol treatment that you would find in our region is the fact that we support what we’re doing clinically with the life-skills part. Those things are not something that you can get reimbursed for. So what you do is, you find the most creative way to stretch the dollar to cover all of these things that are so important to recovery, that aren’t included in that,” Collinsworth said.

For more information about The Counseling Center and its services, find them online at, or on Facebook.

Operation Safety Net

The homeless shelter and food pantry, in Portsmouth, is supported by the local community, churches, youth and civic groups, government funding, and private donations. All of the services and items provided at the shelter are offered free of charge.

In its brochure, the shelter writes, “We desire to provide respite and recourse for families and individuals who meet the state’s definition of homelessness and have no designated place to spend at night. At present we are the only homeless shelter in the county. Without us there would be nowhere to for the homeless to go to. We provide a clean, decent environment that fosters self-esteem and self-reliance.”

According to the shelter, people can become homeless for a number of reason; from house fires to eviction; discharge from rehabilitative services to the demolition of substandard housing; loss of a job, increase in rent, illness, divorce, — all of these can force a family, any family, into homelessness.

The shelter also provides client services, such as rent and utility assistance. Clients may received assistance once in a 12-month period. Homeowners are also eligible for services to prevent foreclosure.

“It is much easier to try and help households maintain occupancy, rather than try to get them re-housed after they lose everything they own,” the shelter writes in its literature.

For more information about the shelter, call them at 740-353-4085.

Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.