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Education, Tremont

Comedian’s visit to Cleveland helps Hispanic UMADAOP & its Youth Center

Comedian’s visit to Cleveland helps Hispanic UMADAOP & its Youth Center

(Plain Press, November 2013) Comedian Bob Perkell, in Cleveland for an October 11th fundraiser to benefit Hispanic Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program (Hispanic UMADAOP), took some time out the night before the fundraiser to meet with youths at the organization’s UMADAOP Youth Center on Scranton Road.

Perkell, a San Diego based comedian who specializes in Clean and Sober Comedy, talked to about 20 young people in attendance at the Youth Center about avoiding the temptation to use drugs and alcohol. He warned, “opportunities to get high are all around you.” Sharing his experience he told the youth that if they succumb to the temptation to get high, “your life will go backwards.”

A comedian for 24 years, for the past 12 years Perkell has used his comedy to help raise funds for 12-step programs, and drug and alcohol treatment, recovery and prevention programs, Perkell says with all the funding cuts, most of the programs have small budgets and need to raise money.

Perkell, clean and sober now for 12 years, says the last time he was clean and sober for 12 years, he was 12 years old. Perkell has appeared on Comedy Central, BET and Showtime. He has entertained United States troops overseas and performed throughout the United States.

Perkell says he hopes his comedy will help those trying to kick a drug or alcohol habit “to learn not to beat their selves up, and to see some humor in recovery.” Recovering addicts can be their own worst enemy, he said, urging those going through recovery not to dwell on the past and mistakes they’ve made.

The UMADAOP Youth Center is one of the programs that will benefit from the fundraiser held at Massimo da Milano Restaurant on October 11th. Hispanic UMADAOP runs a number of prevention, education and treatment programs.

Nelson Ramirez, Director of Prevention Programs for Hispanic UMADAOP, says about 25 to 35 youths regularly make use of the Youth Center and its afterschool programs. A quick survey of the youths at the center indicated that most attend either Luis Muñoz Marín School, or Lincoln West High School.

“Our prevention programs have a long standing collaboration with Cleveland Metropolitan School District,” said Nelson Ramirez, Director of Prevention.

According to Ramirez, prevention specialists provide year-round education and prevention services to elementary, middle, and high school youth, families and teachers.  These services assist students make better decisions by providing them with relevant, compelling, factual information about the harmful effect of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

“However, our prevention services go beyond the classroom setting,” added Ramirez.

Through the UMADAOP Youth Center, a community-based drug prevention and youth leadership facility, young people focus on academic tutoring, supportive mentoring, positive peer relationships, and alternative activities to encourage lifestyles free from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The outcomes are to decrease alcohol/drug use, reduce behaviors related to risk factors, increase alcohol/drug resistant skills, and improve academic achievement.

“In addition to these services, this fall, the youth center will provide free after-school hot/cold meals to participants,” Ramirez excitedly announced.  These meals are available through collaboration with the Cleveland Foodbank’s Kids Café program.

The UMADAOP Youth Center, located at 3115 Scranton Road, is open weekdays to youth, between the ages of 11-17 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  For more information, or to volunteer, please contact Nelson Ramirez at (216) 459-1222.

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