How was Alvis founded?
In the mid-1960s, Dr. David Dunning was a priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Columbus. Part of his ministry was attending to the religious needs of inmates at the old Ohio Penitentiary on West Spring Street. He came to realize that there was a lack of resources in Columbus to help former offenders re-establish themselves in the community. He visited one of the three halfway houses in the country at the time, St. Leonard's House in Chicago, and used it as a model for Alvis.
Dunning contacted Irv Barkan, Ed Hammock, John Holden and others who had an interest in helping inmates returning to the community. This group took up the task of purchasing a facility, hiring a director and building community support. Alvis, Inc. was founded in Central Ohio in 1966 and opened its first residential reentry facility in 1967. The first year, Alvis served about 60 men who were recently released from the Ohio Penitentiary.
Who does Alvis serve?
Alvis serves individuals and families with criminal justice involvement and individuals with developmental disabilities.
Alvis has served individuals referred by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction since 1968, contracted with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to provide transitional services since 1974, and provided employment services to individuals with criminal justice involvement since 1977. Alvis began serving individuals with developmental disabilities in 1981.
Alvis applies the current body of research and literature to support growth and ensure we are turning lives around and helping to build more vibrant communities.
Where does Alvis have programs?
Alvis currently operates programs in Columbus, Chillicothe, Dayton, Lima and Toledo.
Why is the agency named Alvis?
Alvis is named in memory of the late Ralph W. "Red" Alvis, a highly respected warden of the Ohio Penitentiary who had worked to enhance educational, recreational and social services to inmates in order to help them transition more successfully to the community. Ralph Alvis perished in an automobile accident just before the agency was founded.
How can I become involved?
Alvis has many ways to become involved! Please consider volunteering in a program like our Family and Children's Program, being a GED tutor, or helping us with a clothing drive for our clients in need. Attend our signature event, Evening of Light. Or just consider making a donation to support turning lives around. We have room for everyone and we know that together, we have 180° impact!
About our Family and Children's Program
Why do you have a children's program?
Children are the invisible victims of our criminal justice system and many people just do not realize how many kids are affected. In Ohio alone, more than 55,000 kids have a parent with criminal justice involvement. This has a devastating impact on children. These kids face many issues such as abandonment, shame, humiliation, mental health problems, school failure or drop out, and stigma from peers and adults which increase the isolation they feel. Some studies have found that parental incarceration can be more detrimental to a child's well-being than divorce or the death of a parent.
What does the Family and Children's Program do?
We look at the assessed needs of the parent(s) in the Alvis program as well as the needs of their children. The program focuses on building strengths and improving communications between the parents and children. Educational programs are combined with skills practice, which leads to improved parenting skills, enhanced coping abilities, and healthier relationships. We work toward rebuilding trust through shared activities that many of us take for granted, like eating dinner together, going to the zoo together, playing a board game, celebrating holidays, and more.
About our Reentry Programs
What is your treatment approach?
Alvis achieves solid results, restores hope, and provides opportunity by providing a range of individualized assessments, case management, case planning, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), substance abuse treatment, workforce development services, life skills programs (e.g., parenting, financial literacy, etc.) community engagement activities, and linkages to community services.
Are these programs effective?
Yes! Alvis has a strong track record of effectiveness, with more than 92% of the clients who complete our residential program staying out of the criminal justice system for a minimum of one year after program completion. Independent data provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction showed that Alvis clients had a two year recidivism rate of 15.3%; and a 3 year recidivism rate of 21%. This compares to a national average recidivism rate of 44% after three years.
In addition, our clients positively contribute to the community. They earned over $2.5 million in wages last year, meaning they could positively contribute to the economy by paying taxes, housing expenses, child care or child support, etc. They also complete more than 10,000 hours of community service/volunteer work each year.
About our Programs for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
What is your treatment approach?
Every individual in one of our programs for persons with developmental disabilities has a detailed, Individual Program Plan or an Individual Service Plan (depending on whether the client is in our Intermediate Care Facility or in a Supported Living Program). Our services include crisis counseling, medical monitoring, developing peer relationships, vocational training and work experience programs, social skills development, adult daily living skills education, and more.
We work closely with guardians, community agencies, employers and others for the benefit of our clients. Our services provide our clients with the ability to live as independently as possible.
What programs do you offer for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IIDD)?
Alvis provides the following range of services:
An Intermediate Care Facility: Wittwer Hall serves persons with significant behavioral challenges and specialized treatment needs. Services are provided in a protected, residential setting. We strive to assist individuals to become more independent and to be able to transition to a less restrictive setting after 18 months to three years of treatment at Wittwer Hall.
Supported Living Services: We provide supported living services at multiple independent locations and at licensed facilities. These programs help individuals at risk of institutionalization to be able to remain in their homes and communities, preserving their independence and ties to family and friends. Clients may live and/or work together to help share expenses.
Behavior Support Services: We use a cognitive behavioral approach to help individuals to understand and manage challenging behaviors. Depending on assessed needs, clients may also participate in specialized chemical dependency treatment services.
How are individuals referred to Alvis programs serving individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IIDD)?
Potential clients may be referred by County Boards of Developmental Disabilities and/or by parents/guardians. Referrals to Alvis House Programs are considered according to the follow general criteria: 1) DD diagnosis; 2) Level of care eligibility and or I/O waiver eligibility; 3) Behavior needs; and 4) Active treatment needs.
For more information, please contact our DD Services Staff at (614)252-8402, ext. 380; or complete the Contact Us form on this website and select DD Services for your area of interest/inquiry.
Individuals in the community who are struggling due to criminal justice involvement
I am an ex-offender. How can I get help finding a job?
Our Community Reentry Center in Columbus can assist you in your job search. In Columbus, call 614-252-0660.
Our employment program, HIRE (Help In Reentry and Employment) Education, has proven to be very effective. Our goal is to give you all the tools you need to find and obtain the type of job that you would like, not to place you in a specific job. We have built relationships with many employers in the community that will consider Alvis clients for their open positions.
How do you get into a residential program at Alvis?
If you are interested in becoming a residential client, you need to be referred by some type of supervising authority, such as a judge, parole officer, etc. Please contact our Intake Department at 614-252-0295.
Is outpatient substance abuse treatment available?
Yes. Recovery Choices is our cognitive-behavioral treatment program and skills practice sessions that provides individuals with the tools to improve their decision-making skills, enhance coping abilities, and build healthier, drug and alcohol-free lives. Recovery Choices is certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. All of the program's clinical staff are licensed/certified to provide Alcohol or Other Drug (AOD) treatment and are experienced working with criminal-justice involved individuals.
Please call Recovery Choices for more information, 614-252-0660.
General information for reentry clients and their families
Are visitors allowed at the facilities?
Yes, but they must be approved in advance. The person you would like to visit at Alvis should complete a visitor information form and submit it to staff at the facility where they reside. As of March 2020, we have had to significantly restrict visitation in order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Please check with the specific facility you wish to visit,
Does Alvis have any family support groups?
Yes – in some locations. Please ask your family member’s case manager for information.
I am going to be a client at an Alvis residential program. What should I bring?
- A couple of towels and wash cloths
- Hygiene products and laundry detergent
- Pajamas and a robe
- Shower shoes
- Alarm clock
If desired/available, you may bring:
- Radio/iPod, with headphones
- Television (small)
If possible, bring:
- State ID or Driver's License
- Social Security Card
- Felony Registration Card
- Birth Certificate
Please do not bring:
- Products containing alcohol (hair spray, mouthwash, etc.)
- Aerosol cans
- Food, beverages, cooking devices, or eating utensils
- Tools, weapons, or anything that could be used as a weapon
- Playing cards or dice
- Medications not in original container or not clearly identifiable
- Video games or consoles, DVD or Blue Ray players, computers, laptops, tablet computers
- Combustible or flammable liquids
- Tattooing supplies
- Any item bearing any wording, image, or suggestion that could be deemed offensive to a religion, political group, race, ethnicity, gender, age group, or sexual orientation
- Any item bearing drug or alcohol references (symbols, pictures, wordings, etc.)
- Locks (unless it is a bicycle lock)
Please note that all items brought into a residential facility are subject to staff approval.
Are reentry clients allowed to have a cell phone in a residential program?
In general, yes, clients in our residential programs are permitted to have cell phones, unless there is something specific from the referring agency (Federal Bureau of Prisons, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, etc.) or in a client's legal status that would prevent the client from being able to have a cell phone. To protect the privacy of all clients, there are restrictions on the use of cell phone cameras, recording and internet capabilities.
How can I contact a client in a reentry facility?
To protect client confidentiality, we cannot confirm or deny whether or not a client is in one of our residential programs. The client will need to provide you with the facility information. There are phones in all the facilities that clients can use to call out and others can use to call in to the facility. Each client can provide the facility's client phone numbers to individual outside contacts at their discretion. Agency staff have the right to disapprove phone contacts that interfere with a client's programming at Alvis.
If you need help and are not sure where to turn, call 2-1-1 or go to 211.org to get more information about services in your area that can meet your needs.