By Vanessa Willis, Staff Writer—
With public health and financial security concerns brought on by COVID-19, it is more important than ever to understand such hardships. Welcome Home of Chattanooga is an organization which strives to educate the masses on sensitive topics such as these through free online classes held remotely on Zoom.
Welcome Home is an end-of-life care home which usually provides the elderly and terminally ill a safe place to live. Recently, however, Welcome Home has partnered with National Health Care for the Homeless Council to offer “Substance Abuse Among those Experiencing Homelessness,” a course held for the public every Thursday, February through April.
Cindy Manginelli, director of community engagement for NHCHC, instructs the course remotely from Nashville. According to Manginelli, one of the goals of the course is to understand the semantics of substance abuse.
“The language we use really addresses a whole philosophy on how we approach and view substance abuse, whether we see it as a lifestyle choice or a disease,” Manginelli said.
The course is set up to inform people of the hidden underlying causes of homlessness and substance abuse, and how the two are related. With years of rehabilitation center involvement, Manginelli offers a valuable perspective on the hardships that many of the people affected by addiction face. Her anecdotes challenge common misconceptions and present harsh realities about her field. She believes that these honest and open conversations are an important part of changing the stigma surrounding both addiction and homelessness.
“There are a lot of topics we do not talk about because they could offend someone, but we have to talk about them to raise awareness,” said Mangenilli.
Sherry Campbell, the founder and director of Welcome Home of Chattanooga, believes that this sensitive subject matter is significant.
“This series on homelessness is important for us,” Campbell said. “The subject is so complex and there are many misunderstandings and myths about homelessness. It’s important that we provide an opportunity to educate individuals.”
This is Welcome Home of Chattanooga’s second year holding this course, and Campbell says she has already seen many participants be affected positively.
“Many people have reached out to me after the series, surprised with what they have learned.” Campbell said. “It’s a very interesting and informative month.”
If you are interested in joining in on the discussion, visit Substance Abuse Among Those Experiencing Homelessness to register for next week’s class, which begins 3 p.m. next Thursday. For more information on this course and future courses held by Welcome Home of Chattanooga visit Events Calendar — Welcome Home of Chattanooga.