Cedarville hosting drug conference


Greene County News

CEDARVILLE — Sheila Raye Charles, daughter of legendary singer Ray Charles, will be one of the featured presenters at the Faith Leaders Conference Friday, Oct. 21 at Cedarville University.

The event, an initiative of the Drug-Free Action Alliance (DFAA), will equip faith leaders to help prevent substance abuse and support those who need restoration.

Charles creates her own distinct sound while delivering an intensely inspiring message of hope and love. As a talented singer/songwriter, she has found her voice in acoustic jazz and R & B, with lyrics that tell the story of her life and her relationship with her father. She inspires her audiences with stories of her struggle with drug addiction and her spiritual journey to recovery, while delivering meaty and life-giving music.

The conference will also feature presentations from Marcie Seidel, executive director of the DFAA; and Jim Joyner, chemical dependency counselor clinical supervisor at Joyner & Associates.

Joyner has worked with alcohol and drug prevention, treatment and training for more than 45 years.

Cedarville’s School of Pharmacy continues to take an active role in educating communities in Ohio about the dangers of substance abuse. A number of its doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) students, including Lauren Bluhm, will speak at the conference on their work with Gov. Kasich’s “Start Talking” drug education initiative, which helped church leaders disseminate educational resources to fight the ever-increasing drug epidemic.

Bluhm, a fourth-year student at Cedarville University, will deliver a presentation that will challenge pastors and church leaders to implement strategies of the initiative in churches across the state.

“I’m excited to encourage faith leaders to use the material we created as a tool to help those that are struggling with or need healing from addiction within their congregation,” she said. “If it wasn’t for Cedarville supplying me with the opportunity to speak about the dangers of drug abuse and how to prevent it, I wouldn’t be able to be as active or have this platform.”

According to state research, Ohio loses eight people every day to accidental drug overdose, and while many churches want to be a resource for recovery and healing, many don’t know how best to help and protect their community from the drug epidemic.

Marc Sweeney, dean of the school of pharmacy, sees much significance in Cedarville hosting the event, which is supported by Gov. John Kasich.

“Because the governor’s office decided that the church should play an active role in prescription drug abuse, it makes sense for us to play an active leadership role in that initiative across the state,” Sweeney said. “The conference is a great way we can be an advocate of that initiative.”

Seidel said this is the first time the DFAA has partnered with Cedarville and the alliance looks forward to working with the institution in the future.

“Cedarville’s School of Pharmacy is like-minded with our vision of promoting healthy lives through the prevention of substance abuse by arming people with information and resources about what substance abuse is, who is afflicted and how they can help,” said Seidel.

It’s also the first time the DFAA has specifically targeted a faith-based community to help in the drug abuse problem.

To register for this event, which runs 9 a.m .to 3 p.m. visit: www.cedarville.edu/Event/Faith-Leaders-Conference.aspx.

Greene County News report compiled by Scott Halasz.

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