The Ohio State University at Newark

The Ohio State University at Newark and OhioCAN Partner to Host First Responders

February 21, 2023

The Ohio State University at Newark and OhioCAN/Newark Homeless Outreach are hosting a luncheon to honor first responders on Feb. 26 at the John Gilbert Reese Center from noon to 2 p.m. Tom Synan, police chief of the village of Newtown and founder of the Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition, will speak at the event.

The trauma experienced by first responders in responding to the dramatic rise in overdoses and overdose deaths often goes unacknowledged, says Synan. “First responders see the toll addiction can have on those struggling and those left behind. It is important we recognize their daily efforts to save lives, change the tide of addiction, and be the link that brings a community together.”

In 2021, 106,699 overdose deaths were recorded nationally, resulting in an age-adjusted rate of 32.4 per 100,000 in the United States. In Ohio, 5,083 residents died of accidental drug overdoses in 2021, breaking the record of 5,017 overdose deaths in 2020. That 2020 record was an increase of 25% from the previous year.

Included in the day’s events are testimonials from people now in recovery who were brought back from overdoses. Participants in the Day Reporting Program of Licking County, an alternative to incarceration for people charged with nonviolent drug offenses, will also read from the poetry they created in the program.

Newark Homeless Outreach is a project of OhioCAN in Licking County. According to OhioCAN Licking County leader Trish Perry, its mission is to embrace, educate and empower those whose lives have been impacted by substance use and/or homelessness. A group of dedicated and passionate volunteers meets every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at 10 Buena Vista Ave. in Newark to serve anyone who is hungry or in need of food or other items. Mostly community-funded and -supported, Newark Homeless Outreach serves 80-120 people each week with a hot meal, hygiene items, harm reduction supplies, medical supplies, clothing, take-away items and other donated items. OhioCAN invites community members to consider participating in its annual fundraiser, "Steps of Change: Walk a Mile in My Shoes," on May 20. More information can be found on the Newark Homeless Outreach Facebook page, by emailing Newark Homeless Outreach at, or by calling Trish Perry at 740-405-5682.

OhioCAN (Change Addiction Now) is a nonprofit that advocates for harm reduction, a method of addressing substance abuse with compassion and pragmatism, rather than the tough love approach of some traditional methods. OhioCAN provides a broad range of activities to improve the health and well-being for families and their loved ones, including providing food, water and basic necessities to detox and overdose patients, the homeless, recovery homes and community correctional facilities; peer support for families and loved ones impacted by substance use; and overdose prevention activities, including Naloxone (a prescription drug to prevent overdose) and first aid training. They provide educational programs and seminars for schools and community events; kinship advocacy for grandparents and foster families; and homeless outreach providing food, community support and harm reduction supplies.

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service-learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.