By Karen Stokes
Leola Williams, executive director and founder of New C.H.O.I.C.E.S, witnessed youth and families were being destroyed by substance abuse and mental health issues and wanted to be a part of the solution to helping families overcome these issues.
New C.H.O.I.C.E.S (Continuously Hoping for the Opportunity to Implement Changes to Empower us to Survive) assists individuals, youth and families with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.
Addressing and building a healthy mind, body and spirit are the premises of New C.H.O.I.C.E.S.
The staff is certified, licensed and qualified to provide information and counseling services for AODA /Mental health, individual and group counseling, anger management, parenting education and programs designed to assure responsibility, encourage self-growth and provide advocacy ongoing support and 24 hour crisis intervention.
Williams believes in order for kids to heal, you have to treat the whole family. It is important to engage the entire family.
“You can’t put the youth back in the same environment and expect recovery,” Williams said.
Charlesetta Jackson, clinic coordinator at New C.H.O.I.C.E.S. said, “To be able to help the family, the head of the household is the one to be your ally. You need to reach that person.”
The organization is contracted with Milwaukee County, the State of Wisconsin and the Wrap Around program.
The Wrap Around program for youth is designed to meet their mental health and emotional needs with services. New C.H.O.I.C.E.S works mostly with teens and their families.
“Some kids come from two parent stable homes but they are just followers of a bad element,” said Williams. “Although a lot of kids don’t have a relationship with their father.”
According to a recent report on Children-our investment.org, nationwide, homes without fathers may affect children in tragic ways: 85 percent of youth in prisons grew up in a fatherless home and it is estimated that 75 percent of children under the age of 18 in chemical-abuse centers come from fatherless homes.
“We are dealing with an angry population. They are lost.
No values, spiritually corrupt,” said Williams. ”Teens calling their mother a name or cussing her out is a regular occurrence.”
“Most of the youth say marijuana is their drug of choice,” Jackson added. “They say it helps them to relax, forget, not think and not feel. They just want to numb out”.
“I have worked with a family where the grandfather, father and son were all in the correctional system” said Williams. “The next generation repeats what the previous generation does.
A lot of problems are environmental and it’s hard to stay focused when everything around you is in chaos.”
Williams, Jackson and the team at New C.H.O.I.C.E.S are committed to providing services and a new direction to improve the quality of life for the families they serve. “In order for things to change it has to come through the family,” Williams explained.
“We work to build families so they can become productive members of society.”