NAACP Community Resource Fair Focuses on Behavioral Health

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Social workers, mental health counselors, entrepreneurs and community leaders gathered Saturday at Wick Park Pavilion for the Community Resource Fair sponsored by the Youngstown/Mahoning County NAACP.

The event was entitled “Unifying Our Community – Building Strong Connections One Business at a Time.”

“We’re bringing together agencies, nonprofits and vendors to address the needs of our African American community. People need to know the services that are out there,” said Darla Brown-Dunlap, event organizer.

“We have a generation of students and possibly parents who have been left behind or left out. And we’re trying to engage them to become better citizens, better community members. Not just for the African American community — because we all are in this together.”

Among the professionals and organizations attending the resources fair were behavioral health services such as Focus Care Inc. and Gloris Griffin Counseling Services. Both are owned and operated by African Americans.

Kyle Goodbee, a mental health counselor and graduate of Youngstown State University, represented Focus Care, which is affiliated with Dayton-based CRN Healthcare.

“We are the only mental health agency in Youngstown that provides chemical dependency counseling for adolescents,” he says.

Focus Care offers a full range of behavioral health services as does the Griffin agency, which was represented by Lynn Bilal and Dessera McClendon.

Most clients the Griffin agency sees are “sad, depressed and anxious,” Bilal says.

Darla Brown-Dunlap organized the resource fair. Lewis Mohammed is vice president of the NAACP chapter.

Then there is the trauma of violence, or as Brown-Dunlap described it, “A small segment of the community has the whole community under siege.

“I don’t think there’s any one solution,” she says. “We need Black psychiatrists, Black social workers. And it’s imperative that we make those connections and those avenues available.”

This is the second community resources fair sponsored by the NAACP, says chapter president James Brown.

“What this is for is to stop the violence,” he says.

“We had a resource fair in May, across the street from one of the murders. One of the business owners asked us to hold it there, because she saw a young person get killed right in front of her business. She wanted the mental health piece. These folks [committing the violence] have anger issues. They have substance abuse or mental health issues,” Brown says.

“But at the same time, we have community pieces that help people find jobs, help people understand the reason for the anger, and help them to communicate with one another without the threat of violence,” he says.

Many of the participants at the community resource fair also were on hand Sunday to kick off Nonviolence Week in Ohio. Established through the work of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, Nonviolence Week began with a parade through downtown Youngstown and rally at the amphitheater. Special events continue all week.

“There’s only a small portion of the community that’s involved in the violence,” the NAACP’s Brown says.

“We have a lot of people who are doing the right thing for the right reason.”

Pictured at top: Dessera McClendon and Lynn Bilal represented Gloris Griffin Counseling Services at the NAACP of Youngstown/Mahoning County Community Resource Fair.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.