Naomi’s Story of Hope

I work in the Screen Printing / Embroidery Department at Catalyst Life Services.  My dream job at Catalyst is to be a Counselor Assistant at New Beginnings.  To be an agent of change. To maybe help someone like me.  New Beginnings started my road to recovery and I would of never known about this place if it weren’t for my Vocational Specialist, Josh Jewell.  He took me to Rehab twice and didn’t leave until he knew I was sure of myself.  Recovery is my life – as I am finding my old self and getting my family / my boys back.

I am currently waiting on a liver transplant due to my alcoholism.  Unfortunately, the doctors telling me “quit drinking or die” didn’t help me.  Thankfully, Josh and my two stays at New Beginnings planted a seed in my recovery and I can proudly say I’m still on that road.

Here is a short version of my story:

The corner stone of my alcoholism is in April 2008 when I suffered a stillbirth.  I was not able to handle this loss, so I turned to a vodka bottle which led me to lose custody of my two sons.  I was not ready to admit I had a problem and continued to still get up every morning and go to my job at Burger King.  I was what my mom calls a “Functioning Alcoholic”.  I continued to do this job until 2019.  My mom and oldest son (who was in the custody of my Mom) saw me become self-destructive even though I would never admit that I had a problem.

I was transferred to Kenton, OH for my job and met a man who I thought wanted to help me. He took over my life by controlling my every move.  He took everything I loved away from me.  I did not see it that way and would not until after my second stay at New Beginnings.

While at New Beginnings, I learned a lot about myself.  However, upon release, I allowed him to take control back.  I lost jobs because of his actions toward my employers.  With the help of one great Catalyst employee and my mom, they made me see I needed to get away from him.  I got a second chance at New Beginnings again but upon leaving early, I fell back in the trap.  Yes, I had stopped drinking, but I still allowed him to control me.

About 6 weeks ago, he left to go take care of his son in Marion, OH.  I finally began to feel better about myself but not totally.  It was not until he came into our apartment while I was at work and took about everything, including my total paycheck out of the bank, that I knew I had to take action.  I called my mom and she convinced me to call the police and file a report which I did. With the help of my mom and Catalyst, I am now on the right path.  I am taking baby steps to be able to get my life back and be the person I am meant to be.

Catalyst has given me a great opportunity with a great job that I love.  My previous job experience was fast food and now I am learning something new.  They are helping me become better and they care about me enough to help.

Naomi Syx is a current Progress Industries employee. She was so happy to share how New Beginnings and the services at Catalyst helped plant the seed of hope and gave her the tools needed to start the journey of recovery.


Simone Biles & The Olympics: The Mental Health Issue Not Being Discussed

Erin Schaefer, PCC-S, IMFT-S

When I first heard about Simone Biles removing herself from the gymnastic competition due to a “medical issue”, I was concerned about whether she had hurt her leg or sprained something, a devastating injury for an Olympic athlete. Once word came out that, in fact, she had removed herself due to mental health issues, I said, “oh of course, that makes perfect sense!”  However, the reaction on social media and the internet was swift and ran the gamut from, “She is so strong and so brave” to “How could she let down her teammates and the country?  She should have just pushed through it!”

To be clear, I am not a gymnast, no matter how much my younger self tried to make that happen in my front yard in the summer. However, I am a licensed therapist and counselor, so I understand the field of mental health. What I know about USA Gymnastics is more related to my field of knowledge:  prior to the Olympics, I had read a lot about the horrible sexual abuse scandal, revealed just a few of years ago. Larry Nassar, former Team USA Gymnastics doctor, had been convicted and imprisoned for sexually abusing hundreds of female gymnasts over his many years as the team doctor.  The scandal was exposed in 2016; he was convicted in 2017.  This is the first Olympics since all the information has come forth.

When I heard about Simone removing herself for mental health issues, I immediately thought of trauma. Trauma embeds itself in our brains, our bodies, and our minds.  It infects all our senses and imprints on us when an event occurs. Trauma can also linger, hovering underneath, waiting to surface without warning. When a person experiences trauma, that person can be triggered by memories of that trauma by almost anything:  a noise, a smell, a similar scene, or even a repetition of a similar experience. Sometimes, trauma reappears in the form of a flashback of the original event. In some cases, the trauma can be triggered and manifest itself in ways that do not even seem to be connected to the original traumatic event. For instance, someone who experienced trauma as a very young child might not have any memory of the actual abuse, but when returning to the location where previous abuse had occurred, the person might experience a sleep disturbance and not even know why. This physical manifestation of the trauma is part of the body’s “memory” of the event and the cues of what happened there. However, the body “knows” and the brain “remembers” even when the conscious mind does not.

To me, Simone’s case could easily be connected to the trauma she has experienced. Being back in a high-pressure competitive situation, the first Olympics since the scandal was brought to light, can be very “triggering”. Even though it might not be conscious for her, it is quite possible her body and mind are reacting to that stimulus and trying to make sense of it. Obviously, I am not her therapist, her counselor, or her doctor; I am merely an outsider, looking in. For me, the most important thing is that she is listening to her body AND her mind, as both are telling her, “Something is not right here.” Slowing down to listen, adjusting as she goes, and giving herself space and time is absolutely essential for her as an elite athlete – and a great lesson for the rest of us. Let her example be a reminder to us all to be patient with ourselves and to look out for each other. 

The Author: Erin Schaefer, PCC-S, IMFT-S, is the Executive Vice President/Executive Director at Catalyst Life Services.  She received a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pacific Lutheran University in 1997 and a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling in 2002 from the University of Akron.  Erin has worked in community mental health for over 20 years.  She was also director of Ashland Parenting Plus, a small nonprofit agency focused on teen pregnancy prevention, juvenile diversion, and parent education.  She served on the board and as president of the Ohio Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and also on the board of directors of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy from 2011-2013, and is currently the Treasurer. She has been a member of AAMFT since 1997 and is a Clinical Fellow.  Erin is a catalyst for Empathy.

July News

Did you know?

Minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to receive quality care.

Poor mental health care access contributes to poor mental health outcomes among minority populations.

For mental health support call our 24/7 Helpline 419-522-HELP (4357)

Click HERE to watch a video about National Minority Mental Health Month

Sparking the Conversation

Click HERE to watch Elaine Surber and Erin Schaefer as they represent Catalyst Life Services on the show Sparking the Conversation.

Learn More About WIOA

WIOA stands for Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act and it is giving individuals ages 18-24 so many new resources and opportunities to make their way into the workforce. If you or someone you know is interested in this WIOA program please contact Stephanie Jakubick at 419-774-2250!

Click HERE to read an article and learn more about the option offered for transitional youth support!

Behavioral Health Urgent Care

Catalyst is preparing to welcome the new Behavioral Health Urgent Care on August 2nd!

Check out the flexible hours offered for those seeking help in the community!

Catalyst at the Carrousel

Click HERE to learn more about our community event at the Carrousel on August 6th! Stop by and visit our team members to learn more about all of the services Catalyst has to offer and enjoy a night of fun!

Oasis is Reopening


LAST CALL! Today is your last opportunity to register for the Catalyst Life Services Golf Scrammble that is hosted by Mid-Ohio Area CLC!

Click HERE to lock in your spot and register now!

June News

Did You Know?

Progress Industries has been serving the community since 1964 providing employment opportunities to individuals with barriers to employment. Chan Stevens was integral in the start of this workshop 57 years ago and has had a huge impact ever since.

Click HERE to read a recent article about Chan Stevens and Progress Industries!

Photo provided by Mansfield News Journal.

Chan Stevens – Catalyst Hall of Fame
On Tuesday June 15th, Chan Stevens was the inaugural inductee into the newly formed Catalyst Life Services Hall Of Fame. Chan Stevens began his lifetime of exceptional work at the age of 16 by transporting children with disabilities to and from their treatment appointments. Chan has provided dedicated service and efforts where they count most, by chairing two successful capital campaigns benefiting much needed new and updated facilities. Chan has been giving to his community for most of his life and has served as an integral member of the Board of Trustees for 57 years. His virtue and wisdom will leave an indelible imprint on Catalyst Life Services and the many we serve in our community. 

Click HERE to learn more about Chan’s life and successes!

Golf Scramble

The Golf Scramble is hosted by Mid-Ohio Area CLC

Register by filling out a registration form and bringing it into Catalyst OR register online by clicking below!


Join us at the Richland Carrousel  on August 6th from 6PM to 8PM to get the chance to learn more about the services offered at Catalyst while enjoying free snacks, beverages, carrousel rides, face paint, balloons, and more!

Coming Soon

Stay tuned to learn more about the Behavioral Health Urgent Care services that will be available at Catalyst in the following months. The Behavioral Health Urgent Care will allow for immediate access for initial assessments and brief, solution-focused counseling Monday through Saturday and two evenings per week, on a walk-in basis.

A Message From the CEO

Catalyst would like to thank you for your continued partnership and support of the agency. We are grateful for the trust you have given us to support the community in such critical ways. We wanted to inform you that last week, our agency completed a 3-day survey facilitated by the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities (CARF). CARF is an international gold standard accreditation, in which our program standards are reviewed by professionals who determine if the agency is meeting over 3,000 key standards.

These standards look at many areas, including: Finance, Human Resources, IT, Health/Safety, Leadership, Governance,  Vocational Services, Mental Health/Substance Abuse Services and programming, Audiology and several other areas.  We are proud to share that Catalyst received zero findings during this review, and were found to be 100 percent compliant with all standards. Our lead surveyor shared the rarity of an organization having zero findings, stating that “it is almost unheard of.” Our CARF surveyors stated “Staff at Catalyst are professional, caring, competent and take pride in their work.”  The CARF surveyors referred to Catalyst as “the flagship organization in our area.”  We are proud of our results and the quality services we provide to the community and so we felt it important to share this success with our partners, stake holders, and funding sources. We look forward to another year of serving the community.

What does CARF accreditation mean for the public? 

For those being served, CARF accreditation means that the CARF-accredited service provider is committed to reducing risk, addressing health and safety concerns, respecting preferences of individuals (cultural or otherwise), and providing the best quality of care possible.  It also shows that the accredited organization values the feedback and input of their clients and is accountable to the community.  Accreditation demonstrates that a CARF-accredited service provider has made a specific commitment to put the needs of their residents at the center of everything they do and that they respect the rights and individuality of its clients. 

May News

Did you Know?

The average individual waits 11 years to get mental health support and services. You don’t have to wait!

Call 419-756-1717 between 7:30am – 9:30am, Monday through Thursday, for Open Access! If you are in need of Mental Health or Substance Use Services, Open Access will allow you to be assessed by a Clinician that very same day! 

To learn more about our Open Access hours click HERE.

Nicole Kimble, the Adult Mental Health Program Director, shares about the mental health services offered by Catalyst and why it is important to bring awareness to mental health during mental health month and beyond.

Wellness Wednesday

This event is open to the community and is entirely free! Come to the event if you are:

– Looking for mental health supports or desiring to maintain wellness
– Curious about telehealth services
– In need of support for family members
– Interested in vocational services
– Interested in substance use treatment options

Narcan Training: 12:45pm & 4:30pm
**Dr. Bocka and Catalyst staff will be presenting hands on Narcan training with kit, answering questions about addiction, and providing hope.

Free COVID Vaccination Clinic: 12:00pm – 4:00pm
**the vaccine clinic will have an ASL interpreter available for the entire time.

*Parking is in the back of the building.
For questions or to RSVP for the Narcan training, call 419-774-6710

Open Interviews for Counselor Assistants

Catalyst Life Services is expanding their services and has increased opportunities for Counselor Assistants. These positions are ideal for individuals looking to grow in the field of mental health and drug and alcohol services. Under general supervision, the Counselor Assistant provides crisis intervention, phone services, initial access
services and mental health/AOD assistance (including monitoring self-medications and daily living skills) to clients in our residential treatment facilities.

Our Counselor Assistants receive extensive training, coupled with hands on learning from highly experienced Counselors and Therapists. Training dollars available to assist individuals with obtaining their CDCA.

Full-time, 40 hour a week positions are available, as well as part-time positions.
Shift differential is given for 2nd and 3rd shift as well as on the weekends.
*Qualifications: High school diploma, auto insurance, and an Ohio driver’s license with an acceptable driving record required.

If you are interested but unable to attend either of the open interview
slots you can call or email:
Trena Jacobs @ 419-756-1717
Mandi Whitlatch @ 419-526-6102

Mental Health for Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Free Mental Health/AOD training opportunity on live webinar on the following dates: 5/7, 5/21, 6/4, 6/10, 6/25.  The training, Providing Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals was made possible by a grant through the Ohio Department of Mental Health.  This training has 6.5 CEU’s.

Community Support

Congratulations to our vocational department for once again being awarded the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) contract for youth services. These funds, totaling over $353,000, go toward helping youth with barriers reach their employment and educational goals.

Click Here WIOA Richland County on Facebook

We are so proud of our vocational department and all the amazing work they do!

Stay Safe Together

Catalyst staff wore blue to work on April 14th in support of April being National Child Abuse Awareness Month.  Richland County Children Services theme this year is “Staying Safe Together”. The most important thing we can do to help children thrive is to support families before they reach a crisis.

February News

Did you Know?

The 30th Annual Catalyst Rehab Telethon was a huge success!

We went off-air at $115,000 and have now received more than $123,000 in pledges! We are so thankful to ALL who were involved!

30th Annual Catalyst Rehab Telethon raises over 123,000 and counting!

Click the image above to read about the success of the Telethon! Hear from the CEO of Catalyst, Laura Montgomery, as she shares how grateful she is to the community and to all who were involved!

Melissa talks about the power of collaboration and philanthropy as she reflects on the incredible success of the 30th Annual Catalyst Rehab Telethon.

Telethon Success Stories

Click to watch these amazing testimonies of strength and perseverance as each one of these clients came to Catalyst with a specific need and desire to be the best they could be.

Open Access

Call into Catalyst between 7:30am – 9:30am, Monday through Thursday, for Open Access! If you are in need of Mental Health or Substance Use Services, Open Access will allow you to be accessed by a Clinician that very same day! 

Community Support

The 15th annual “Will Tube for Food” event to benefit Catalyst Life Services, was held at Snow Trails Vertical Descent Tubing Park during Glow Tubing on Wednesday, Jan. 20th. Click to read more about this successful event! 

Click the image above to read about the passion and generosity of a woman, the collaboration of many and the power of a purse.

Snow Trails “Will Tube for Food”!

The 15th annual “Will Tube for Food” event to benefit Catalyst Life Services, was held at Snow Trails Vertical Descent Tubing Park during Glow Tubing on Wednesday, Jan. 20th.

Every person who participated in this event donated a non-perishable food item at check-in. Snow Trails also donated $5 from each tubing ticket purchased to further benefit Catalyst Life Services.

“We are excited to once again welcome families to Snow Trails for this great benefit,” said Nate Wolleson Marketing Manager. “We began this event back in 2006 when the Tubing Park first opened and really enjoy providing families a fun night out, while also making a charitable donation to give back to our local community,” he added.

“Will Tube for Food” was sold out quickly with a total of 400 tubers in 2-hour increments. Tubers had a fun-filled evening, boxes of non-perishable food items were contributed, and $2,000 was donated by Snow Trails to Catalyst Life Services. We are so grateful to Snow Trails for continuing to host this event and helping us to serve our community.

The Power of a Purse

Ronni Gaines visited the New Beginnings women’s residential treatment facility, with the goal of blessing others. The women there were recipients of items and products that most people take for granted, as well as the knowledge that they are loved, and others care for them.

Ronni donated 18 beautiful purses filled to the brim with hygiene items, toiletries, and dental products. This idea came to her one day as she was reading a women’s magazine and saw a lady who had donated over 6,000 purses to individuals in need. Ronni wanted to be the difference and started to ask those around her if they would be able to help gather items. She put her idea up on Facebook and was met with enthusiasm and generosity as support started to pour in.  

“I want to thank Dr. Marissa Miller, DDS from Shelby who donated all the dental hygiene items. The Avon lady, Connie Roub, donated some purses. Thank you to Theresa Cronenwett at Kuttin Korner, Jeanine Friebel at Dream Huge Realty, Jodie Friebel Gumbert at K & S Bent N Dent and Kathy Couts who also donated items.” Ronni said gratefully.

Many individuals collaborated to get these items to New Beginnings including ladies at a garage sale who heard what Ronni was doing and donated boxes of toothbrushes. So many individuals stepped up when the need was presented.

“It all started with my niece, Ashley Gaines who passed away from her heroin addiction. She was so young at age 22,” Ronni shares. “She was living on the street even though she had a home to live in. It’s hard to think of people who are struggling that way. I just want to do what I can.”

Ronni continues to find healing in helping others and even practices self-care by doing what she can for those in need. She admits that she feels the best, both physically and emotionally, when she is able to do things for others.

Elaine Surber, Executive Vice President & Director of Substance Use Disorder Services, is Ronni’s life-long friend. The preciousness of Ronni’s gift was even more impactful to Elaine as her and Ronni were able to reconnect after Ronnie reached out via social media to ask how she could help New Beginnings.

“This is the second time Ronni made a donation.” Elaine explains. “The first time she brought in beautiful clothes that brought great joy.” Elaine saw the effect of Ronni’s generous spirit first-hand as resident’s faces lit up when the gorgeous, professional clothing was distributed. 

Mandi Whitlatch, Supervisor of Substance Use Disorder Residential Services shared, “Many times, New Beginnings is an afterthought and people give leftovers or unwanted items. Donations that are meaningful and are actually clothes they would choose to wear are very impactful.”

Mandi stated that the women liked these clothes so much, they even shared some outfits and had certain days assigned to wear them. These women were so excited for the opportunity to have something nice and something they were proud of. The clothes, purses, and the hygiene items made many women very happy and they have Ronni Gaines to thank for that.

Art is Healing

Jen Lemon believes that art is an important component to the healing process involved in recovery from addiction. Because of this belief and her passion to help, she has and continues to donate art supplies to the New Beginnings II art group. This group is held every week at NBII, a female-specific Catalyst residential facility for addition recovery.

Jen shares,”I feel it is important to have the creativity and art in recovery so you can work through issues as you are creating. Art can be so uplifting and those in recovery have something to show and be proud of.”

The art supplies were donated partly through Fusion Church as well as ‘addiction recovery’ funds from the Charity Blitz at Black Iron Fitness in Lexington. Jen was able to purchase paints, canvases, and other art supplies for various art projects created every week.

“My son Nick  loved to be creative and I know that helped him during his SUD,” shares Jen. “Unfortunately we lost him almost four year ago, so his love for art lives on. My hope for the clients is this helps on their road to recovery and opens doors for them as well.”

Olivia Pidgeon, a Catalyst Peer Supporter, has her own personal recovery story that equips her to support clients utilizing Catalyst treatment services.

“I believe that in order to truly find yourself, you need to step out of comfort zones that restrict you from growth,” Olivia says. “I did not discover art until I became sober. I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone and dive into a world of paint while I was in treatment. It was there, in my creativity, that I began to love myself and reveal my true potential.”

Olivia is currently the leader of the art group at New Beginnings II and uses the class as a tool to help clients express themselves in a variety of ways. This class has helped many individuals to work through trauma and the healing process in very special and impactful ways.

“We are so thankful for Jen and Fusion Church for their giving hearts. Jen has had a huge impact on my life personally and continues to touch every individual she interacts with,” Olivia beams.

Thank you Jen Lemon, for helping provide tools in the process of healing!