South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Family Healing Center will be good for borough


Last updated 11/12/2018 at 8:05pm

There are few homes on the Hilltop that haven’t been touched by drugs with a son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father or friend.

Drug addiction can be particularly tough on a family with young children. Auberle is proposing a first-of-its-kind program to reunite recovering drug addicted parents with their young children in a residential setting in Mt. Oliver.

Auberle is a faith-based organization that has operated programs for the past 60 years dealing with substance abuse, job training, counseling and more. The proposed program, the Auberle Family Healing Center, would be located in the former Mt. Oliver School building on Hays Avenue in the borough.

The Family Healing Center would use eight apartments, only half of the apartments in the building. The rest of the space would be converted into office, counseling and dining areas.

Recovering parents could live in the apartments with their young children, spouse and possibly a grandparent, aunt or uncle if they are important to the family.

The recovering parent would not be able to leave the building without an Auberle staff member. They would spend their time in counseling sessions and learning/relearning the skills needed to be a parent. The spouse would be able to go to work and the children, if old enough, would be able to attend their regular school. The idea is to keep things as normal as possible for the family.

Although participants will be referred to the program from Allegheny County, there are currently more than 500 families eligible to participate, there are many from the Hilltop area who could qualify. Auberle officials anticipate many families in the program will be from the area.

According to Auberle officials, the program proposed for the Family Healing Center will be highly regulated by the state. They expect to have a staff of about 25 and have a history of hiring locally.

As proposed, the Family Healing Center should be almost invisible to borough residents. The goal is to have the participants lead as normal a life as possible, not to draw attention from residents to the program.

Unfortunately, Mt. Oliver Mayor Frank Bernardini has come out against the Family Healing Center saying the borough shouldn’t be “dumped on” anymore. He says the borough doesn’t need a program like this and to put it somewhere else.

While it’s true other Hilltop communities have half-way and three-quarter houses, clinics and drug abuse counseling centers, Mt. Oliver has none. Within the borough there are no half-way houses, no counseling centers or clinics, but there are drug users.

Mr. Bernardini is wrong in trying to keep Auberle out of the borough. If anything, he should welcome them. Auberle will be one of the biggest employers in the borough. They have experience in job training and connections to employers throughout Southwestern PA. Auberle has been a good neighbor in other areas and encourages their employees to become part of the community.

Mt. Oliver residents should support Auberle and the proposed Family Healing Center when they go before the Mt. Oliver Zoning Board next Tuesday.


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