Kurt Tomlinson, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, 5757 Starr Avenue Extension, is promoting a new program to help troubled youths and adults.Tomlinson is partnering with the National Alliance for Mental Illness, a non-profit agency that provides support, education and advocacy for the mentally ill, Renewed Mind, a non-profit agency that provides professional level services for children with psychiatric and addiction issues, and the Oregon Community and Family Coalition, to promote the new program: Oregon Risky Behaviors Intervention and Teachings (ORBIT).
We have tried to be a resource for the Oregon community, reaching out with support groups for those who are in need in the community,” Tomlinson said about his church at an Oregon City Council meeting on Feb. 27. “We’ve tried lots of different things, from folks dealing with divorce, grief, alcohol and drug issues. And we’ve had varying levels of success. We struck out a few months ago to begin partnerships with some area agencies, and we think we’ve hit on something really exciting.”
“We’re going to begin on March 5 at the church,” said Tomlinson. “We’ll have meetings every Monday evening, and we welcome people of all ages to ORBIT to assist them with dealing with the results of risky behaviors in their lives and in their family lives.” The meetings start at 6:30 p.m.
“We’d like to provide a place for adults, including parents, youths and children, to come and find some support for the risky behaviors that we find so prevalent in our community and in our culture today,” he said.
Tomlinson’s definition of “risky behavior,” he said, is broad.
“Everything from bullying and lying to mental illness,” he said. “There’s a big need for support for folks with mental illness – from people with depression to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Then we have quite a bit of experience with drug and alcohol addiction. We’re going to start with a large group session every week, introduce a risky behavior subject and talk about it, then split into small groups. We will take the individual issues of anyone who shows up that evening and figure out how to help them. Finally, we’ll have a fellowship time at the end where we can refer people to other agencies where they can find more help for what’s going on in their lives. We’re not pretending to be a treatment place, just a place for people maybe to turn for support and begin the journey toward a healthier life. We want to make a difference in the lives of people who live in and around Oregon,” he said.
“In our barnstorming tour to get the word out about ORBIT, we have received tremendously positive feedback,” said Tomlinson. “We’ve met with counselors and some of the administration at the Oregon City Schools, we met with some folks at Cardinal Stritch High School, and others in the community.”
He asked council for feedback as well as support to help get the word out to the community about ORBIT.
Councilman Sandy Bihn said she supported Tomlinson’s effort, particularly in light of a recent shooting that killed three students at a high school in Cleveland on Feb. 27.
“Certainly after what happened in Cleveland, it brings home the importance of having a program like this. Everyone can reach out to someone who is troubled and who has a need. It’s just another tool in the tool chest to help people in our community,” said Bihn.
“Thank you for your efforts,” said Council President Tom Susor. “I look forward to having your service group in the community and I will take this back and share it with people in my church.”
For more information, call Christ UMC at 419-691-9701 or Oregon Community and Family Coalition at 419-720-1708.