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Human services students host ‘HOPE’ opioid awareness event


Human services students at Pennsylvania College of Technology are inviting the campus community and the public to attend “PCT HOPE,” a unique opioid awareness event to be held Saturday, Nov. 10, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in Penn’s Inn on the second floor of the Bush Campus Center.

Standing for “Help Open People’s Eyes,” the PCT HOPE gathering aims to “humanize the local opioid epidemic.” The event is an outreach effort by students in the college’s Service Learning in Sociology class and is being organized in cooperation with the West Branch Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission.

PCT HOPE will feature an interactive mural, speakers, information booths and giveaways. A “reaction tree,” where guests can post stories and their responses to the event, will also be a key feature – and one symbolizing growth.

Preparing for their opioid awareness event, PCT HOPE, students in the Service Learning in Sociology class work together in The Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College.
Preparing for their opioid awareness event, PCT HOPE, students in the Service Learning in Sociology class work together in The Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College.

“Our goal is for people to learn about the opioid epidemic in an environment that doesn’t feel like they’re sitting listening to facts,” said Jade L. Brokaw, of Williamsport, a junior in the applied human services major. “We wanted to present the information in a more exciting and comfortable venue.”

Students in Service Learning in Sociology cut out autumnal decorations for their special event.
Students in Service Learning in Sociology cut out autumnal decorations for their special event.

Brokaw adds that the event is geared toward adults and young adults in high school and college.

“It’s for people who are already having the conversation about opioids, but we want to create a space for them to discuss and learn more,” she said. “The opioid crisis is affecting so many people, and it’s important to have these conversations.”

Purple ribbons are ready for PCT HOPE on Nov. 10.
Purple ribbons are ready for PCT HOPE on Nov. 10.

Jennifer Reeder, assistant director of West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, said: “There are countless misconceptions about what this disease looks like, how it happens and what it takes to recover. The commission’s hope is that this event will provide many with a very personal experience and a new perspective; one that demonstrates how no one chooses to have this disease, that no one is immune and how incredibly difficult it is to overcome.

“Such misconceptions lead to judgments. Such judgments easily convince our wounded that they don’t deserve and cannot achieve anything better. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are thankful that Penn College is taking steps to help change lives and the community for the better.”

D. Robert Cooley, associate professor of anthropology/environmental science, brainstorms ideas with applied human services students Jade L. Brokaw (left) and Melissa “Missy” H. Robey.
D. Robert Cooley, associate professor of anthropology/environmental science, brainstorms ideas with applied human services students Jade L. Brokaw (left) and Melissa “Missy” H. Robey.

The idea for PCT HOPE emerged following brainstorming sessions in the Service Learning in Sociology class. On the first day of their class this fall, Brokaw says her teacher, D. Robert Cooley, associate professor of anthropology/environmental science, gave the class one word: “opioids,” and the students began exploring ways to engage discussion on the topic.

The sociology students and their professor make good use of the college’s makerspace to plan for their opioid awareness event.
The sociology students and their professor make good use of the college’s makerspace to plan for their opioid awareness event.

“The one thing we kept coming back to was that we wanted to help open people’s eyes to the epidemic and the fact that (the addiction) can happen to anybody,” Brokaw said. “We wanted to educate and show empathy.”

Brokaw says PCT HOPE has received several donations from the community to support the initiative.

To learn more about the human services majors at Penn College, visit the School of Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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