Businesses Step Up: Legal Aid and Mental Health

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Business Journal is asking companies and organizations to tell us how they are faring, what they are doing.

Monday morning, we sent a letter to the business community, asking readers to share their stories and what they’re doing to help others through this crisis. You can submit your own story at

In the days ahead, we’ll share more from our readers on how they’re getting through an unprecedented time that has affected all businesses and all walks of life.

Here’s the latest edition of what we’re hearing:

Johnson & Johnson Law Firm

CANFIELD, Ohio – Included law firms are on the list of essential businesses that aren’t affected by Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order, the staff of Johnson & Johnson Law Firm are working with clients remotely, says managing partner Nils Johnson.

As we have since 1921, Johnson & Johnson will continue to serve its clients through the current challenges.  Our physical office in Canfield will remain open to receive clients’ calls,” he says. “We will make arrangements to complete and execute any paperwork you may require. If, for instance, you need a will and can find the necessary witnesses in your circle at home, we can mail or email you the papers.  If you need to come to the office to sign, however, we will arrange to do so.  We have provided personal protection to staff and attorneys to make face-to-face interactions as safe as possible for everyone.”

Johnson notes that the practice was founded in 1921, surviving the Great Depression, World War II, 20% interest rates in the 1980s, and the Great Recession.

“We will survive the virus – as will our community, our state and our country,” Johnson says.

CRN Healthcare

WARREN, Ohio – CRN Healthcare is continuing its work in treating addiction throughout the coronavirus outbreak, complying with safety guidelines issued with the Centers for Disease Control.

“With hundreds of Americans dying from overdose and other addiction-related causes each and every day, we can’t slow down our work toward systemic change,” says vice president Kofee Mostella. “American institutions must respond to all urgent health epidemics, including both COVID-19 and addiction. CRN will continue working hard to create solutions for the millions of Americans in need of effective, affordable substance use disorder treatment.”

Gem Young Insurance & Financial Services

CANFIELD, Ohio – The staff at Gem Young Insurance & Financial Services have been working remotely since March 17.

“We did this to not only protect our staff, but also our clients,” says marketing director Kristi Novotny. “After years of upgrading technology and infrastructure within the office, we were able to seamlessly transition and continue business operations with no interruption.

“One of the things our company has been built on is the idea that our clients are family, and we only want what is best for them. Having the ability to be reachable, accessible and reliable is the best way we can serve at this time.”

First Step Recovery

WARREN, Ohio – The mental health sector is in the midst of a “pandemic within an epidemic,” says First Step Recovery of Warren chief operating officer Cindy Woodford, and the guidelines on slowing the spread of the coronavirus are taking a toll on clients.

“Social distancing inherently creates barriers in doing our jobs.  Our clients come to us feeling isolated.  Part of our job is to make them feel a sense of belonging. That’s why in our treatment counseling we aren’t shy to sit close to a client; give them a high five and clients will hold hands or huddle to pray,” she says.  “Hugs are inherent in the rooms of recovery.  We’ve had to eliminate a lot of the thing that make our clients feel whole and appeal to their humanity. Having to strip away that essential piece of interaction has been especially tough on us, and them.”

Further, clients have to eat meals in their room instead of communally in the center’s dining room, she adds, which exacerbates the sense of loneliness. 

To mitigate these effects, First Step Recovery has launched a campaign, I Am Essential, for its clients and 120 employees. The campaign aims to remind the public that mental health and substance abuse treatment centers are part of the health-care continuum the same as hospitals and to increase the recognition of staff.

“There was no discussion about ceasing our services” Woodford says. “Everyone agreed that this is not the time for us to put down our sword, so to speak. Why would we stop doing what we do every day to save lives when we know that every life is essential?”

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