May 13, 2014. The Columbus Dispatch.
And accepting identification cards for Mexican nationals so they don’t have to live in fear.
Those are some of the goals that an interdenominational group of more than 3,500 clergy members and their congregations who met at the Celeste Center at the fairgrounds last night said they will work toward over the next year.
Each year, the group Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity, or BREAD, unveils a few social-justice causes at its Nehemiah Action meeting.
“We cannot minister to people’s spiritual and religious needs and ignore their social and economic situation,” said La Fayette Scales of the Rhema Christian Center on the North Side. “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
More than 205,000 people in Franklin County experience a mental disorder every year, said the Rev. Eric Moehring of Faith Lutheran Church in Whitehall. Of those, about 54,000 live with a severe mental illness that puts them at risk of being unemployed, becoming homeless or living in poverty.
Over the past four years, the number of people seeking inpatient psychiatric treatment has doubled, he said. “But what is really needed is not more beds but more services so people don’t wind up in a crisis.”
The Rev. Eric Williams, of the North Congregational United Church of Christ on the Northwest Side, shared that his son has schizoaffective disorder, which includes a combination of schizophrenia symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood-disorder symptoms such as mania or depression. He also has Asperger’s syndrome.
Williams said he’s constantly worrying about his son’s illnesses “robbing his personality and threatening his future.”
A group of BREAD members recently visited Magnolia Clubhouse in Cleveland, a center for people with severe, persistent mental illness. Impressed with the center, they are advocating for a similar facility in the Columbus area.
Magnolia helps “members” work together, gain confidence and learn work skills by participating in activities such as making lunch and helping with landscaping and property management.
Franklin County also needs more multidisciplinary teams of psychiatrists, nurses, housing specialists and other professionals to help the mentally ill in the community, said Bev Orazen, of St. Thomas More Newman Center in the University District.
David Royer, chief executive officer of the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County, agreed to visit the Magnolia Clubhouse and send staff members to a training session in Indiana. But he refused to commit to creating a clubhouse in Columbus without first visiting the facility in Cleveland.
BREAD also wants the city and local law-enforcement to accept identification cards for Mexican nationals that are issued by their consulate, but no one from those agencies attended last night’s meeting.
Undocumented immigrants continue to be arrested for minor traffic offenses. Many are then deported, said Tom Gearhart of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church on the East Side.
“It gives us something that many citizens take for granted: proof of identity,” said Saul Buitron, who said he came to the United States on a work visa 10 years ago and has been working through the system the past eight years to get a green card.