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May 2023
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Lecture Artist Series focuses on drug epidemic

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — As the drug epidemic continues to plague the nation, Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Lecture Artist Series, Jan. 24-26, brings the conversation front and center to not only shed light on the problem, but to explore the services available in Knox County to assist the at-risk population and provide opportunities for citizens to get involved.

Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Wetzel will bring his professional insight to the problem during his public lecture, “The Difference Between Calling and Life,” on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7:15 p.m., at the R.R. Hodges Chapel/Auditorium.

“Your calling would be this longing that you have to really do something that’s significant. Life is something that happens to you while you are pursuing your calling,” Wetzel said. “If your calling and your life are in balance, then you are able to see accomplishments. If you are out of balance, pursuing something you weren’t really called to do, you are swimming upstream.”

Wetzel sees this imbalance in his court docket and understands some never find that balance because they are crippled by drug addiction. However, the resources needed to even out one’s life are available in Knox County including three drug courts, Riverside Recovery, The Freedom Center, Knox County Health Department, Knox Community Hospital, among others he said.

“We need to get out in the community and engage with those organizations and support them with our time, resources, energy and make ourselves aware of what’s going on, what’s happening and what is being done to get help these organizations that are providing services to this at-risk population,” Wetzel said.

MVNU students will hear various speakers throughout the day on Friday, Jan. 25, including during Chapel service and in classrooms.

A public workshop on Saturday, Jan. 26, in the Thorne Performance Hall in the R.R. Hodges Chapel/Auditorium will breakdown the science and societal impact of drugs and explore the process of recovery. Speakers include:

•Sheryl Hemkin, associate professor of chemistry at Kenyon College, will speak from 9-9:50 a.m., on how bodies react to substances from sugar to opiates offering perspective to make healthier choices.

•Amy Smart, executive director of Riverside Recovery Services, will address how addiction impacts employment, health and society, from 10-10:50 a.m. As a recovering addict, Smart also hopes to dispel the stigma that follows addiction.

 •Todd Farrell, a chemical dependency counselor for Behavioral Health Partners will finish the workshop beginning at 11 a.m., by discussing real life examples of what counselors see in recovery housing and offer ideas of what society can do to rally in the fight against addiction.

The Lecture Artist Series, which is free and open to the public, is an outreach for MVNU to start a community conversation on campus with the goal of extending the dialogue to Chapel, the classrooms and homes. For this particular series, organizers hope to create a continual partnership between the university and the Knox County community.

“We talked about a combination of raising awareness since the issue is more than drug abuse by individuals,” said Dr. Paul Madtes Jr., LAS committee member. “Our concern was that many people would simply respond by thinking, ‘I’m not a user’ or ‘No one in my family is a user.’ So, we wanted to expand the session to include awareness of the impact on aspects of society that arises because of drug problems — everyone is affected even without knowing it.”

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and several convenient Graduate and Professional Studies locations throughout the state, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education to more than 2,200 students from 31 states and 22 countries/U.S. territories.