By Debra J. Groom
For the second year, it will be a Merry Christmas for people in the transitional living programs at Oswego County Opportunities.
Tonight, 40 people, some homeless, some struggling with mental illness or drug or alcohol problems, will gather in fellowship to share in the goodness of the season.
They will eat a tasty meal, talk, sing holiday songs and even laugh. And everyone will receive a Christmas gift.
Betsy Copps, director of information and compliance and corporate compliance officer for OCO, said the community comes together to make this a special Christmas treat for these OCO consumers.
OCO Transportation Services is providing a bus to transport 22 consumers and staff from Arbor House and the Chemical Dependency Transitional Living Apartments.
The person driving the bus is doing so for free.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church is donating space and the use of its fellowship hall and kitchen for the dinner.
Lakeview Lakes is donating table settings, including plates, bowls, cups, saucers and utensils for the meal.
OCO staff is donating its time to be hosts and servers during the dinner while employees who can’t be there are baking pies, cakes and cookies for everyone’s sweet tooth.
And to top it off, a group from Calvary Baptist Church has donated bags of gifts, such as food, hats, games and Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards, so all can share in the season.
“Money is so tight right now that it’s wonderful that people want to donate for this,” Copps said.
Copps said Oswego County Opportunities offers a variety of transitional living options for people or families suffering through chronic homelessness, coping with mental illness or overcoming a chemical dependency.
The problem is, these people often are forgotten at the holidays.
“Some people don’t have home and family support in place,” she said. “Some may not have a place to go for the holidays. This provides a human connection. They can enjoy being together and feel cared for.”
Oswego County Opportunities provides a variety of transitional living options for individuals or families experiencing one or more of the following situations:
Chronic homelessness; learning to cope with mental illness; overcoming drug or alcohol dependency; youth homelessness.
The agency operates apartments as well as residences where consumers in need of these services can receive the necessary supports to successfully make the transition back into the community.
Supports include counseling, goal planning, life skill development and improvement, job readiness training, literacy services, connecting and referring to medical and professional services outside OCO, case management, advocacy, victim assistance and crisis intervention.
OCO serves about 175 consumers annually through these types of programs.