ROC Offering "A Better Life — Brianna’s Hope" Support Group

Managing Editor

A tragedy in another state has opened the door for hope in several counties and that hope has leaked over to St. Marys.

In honor of an Indiana woman who died of an overdose five years ago, the Resource Opportunity Center (ROC) is starting a weekly meeting in April to help those who have struggled, are struggling or have been affected by addiction in some way.

The meeting, called "A Better Life — Brianna's Hope" (ABLBH) began after 25-year-old Brianna DiBattiste of Dunkirk, Indiana went missing June 16, 2014 and her remains were found Sept. 1, 2014 near the Jay County Conservation Club in Portland, Indiana. While the mystery remains about how she got there, the Jay County Coroner investigation indicated that DiBattiste died of a heroin overdose.

Since her death, ABLBH was started to offer support, understanding and love to those that my be struggling to cope with addiction.

Brianna's Hope has grown from the initial Redkey, Indiana Chapter that began Nov. 5, 2014 to more than 35 chapters throughout eastern Indiana and west central Ohio. There are four chapters in Ohio, including both the Auglaize and Mercer County jails as well as a chapter in Greenville.

Each chapter operates a similar agenda, but still maintains its own identity and approach.

"We are starting the meeting here outside the jail," said ROC member and meeting leader Brandon Clevenger. "It's not only for addicts in recovery, it is also for people who are affected by recovery or support for it."

The ROC will host an open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday with Brianna Hope meetings taking place beginning April 14 at the same times. The judgment-free meetings will consist of a meal from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by the program — which includes testimonies from people, victory tags for sobriety and T-shirts or blankets for attending so many meetings. Saturday's open house will have a testimony from a man who was friends with DiBattiste and used with her family but has since been able to turn his life around.

"This meeting has changed his life," Clevenger said. "It's a good program and it is taking off for a reason. I think it is really going to help this community."

Aside from Mercer, Darke Auglaize and Allen counties, Clevenger said Sidney in Shelby County is also looking into adding a chapter and a chapter is starting up in Dayton. The Resident Manager at Victor House Transitional Living Facility in Wapakoneta added that the Brianna Hope meetings can benefit anyone and that ROC is raising money to help people get treatment if needed

"There's only a certain number of meetings in town and if you are going through addiction, some meetings might not work for you," he said. "Some people like AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] but other people don't, while some people like Christian-based and others don't. But we are more interested in showing love to these people where they are at, so I think it is more important to be that hand to help them up."

To read the full story pick up Wednesday's print edition of The Evening Leader.