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Encino Energy donates $5,000 to aid the Appalachian Children Coalition

LOUISVILLE — Encino Energy is showing its support of the Appalachian Children Coalition with a $5,000 donation to help improve the overall well-being of children in the region.

The Encino Energy Community Partnership Program made the donation to aid in the coalition’s mission of improving the physical, mental and behavioral health of Appalachian children. Encino President and CEO Hardy Murchison said the company is grateful to be in a position to lend a helping hand in times of need through the program.

“Ohio is home to many of Enicio’s employees, contractors and landowners, so our interest is personal. Investing in the Appalachian Children Coalition’s mission to provide a better future for these children goes to the heart of Enciono’s long-term goal of making a positive difference in every community we touch,” he continued.

The ACC was formed last year in an effort to solve major disparities in the region including poverty, drug exposure, acute lack of health care access, a shortage of children’s behavioral health specialists, the philanthropy gap and lack of broadband access, according to a news release.

It is a collaborative effort between mental health and education professionals in 25 counties in southeast Ohio, including Belmont, Monroe and Harrison counties.

Randy Leite, executive director of the ACC, said donations in support of the ACC directly impact its collective advocacy work to ensure the region’s children have the care they need and deserve at home, in school and in their communities.

“What we’re focused on is really trying to expand and enhance mental health resources for children in the region. Kids in Appalachia have a lack of mental health resources compared to kids in other parts of the state. Kids that have trauma, kids that have challenges or may be in crisis have less resources available to them,” he said.

Leite said the organization looks for ways to expand and enhance the region’s resources available to children. He said it helps to provide funding and support to schools, mental health agencies and social service agencies, along with spreading awareness and obtaining grants to aid with these resources.

The donation from Encino will allow the ACC to bring needed resources into the region to help improve mental health resources for children, Leite said. Additionally, it will help with broadband expansion to ensure children have access to the internet for virtual learning, he added.

“We want to make sure the resources get to the places doing the work in the greatest need areas,” he said. “Our efforts have really focused on meeting the immediate needs in our communities, especially amid the pandemic with things like internet connectivity. … These funds will tremendously help our mission.”

The ACC recently helped secure a $2 million grant through the Ohio Department of Education to fund school-based mental health physicians in seven counties in the region, Leite said. He said the organization is attempting to obtain another $2 million to expand that program to 18 additional counties including Belmont.

“That money would let us use it to incentivise students to pursue certain careers. For example, we might work with social work students at Ohio University Eastern to give them opportunities for placement and school-based mental health programs to try to encourage them to stay in the region to work,” he said.

For more information on the organization and its mission, visit appalachianchildrencoalition.org.

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