Long-time Portage resident Frank Hairston joined the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County in the fall of 2019. The Board is comprised of 18 volunteer members, with 10 being commissioner appointments and 8 appointed through the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.
Volunteering and serving his community have been an integral part of Hairston’s life. Through the years, he has volunteered with the McElrath and Skeels communities, the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce, Ravenna Rotary, Ravenna Jaycees, Portage County NAACP, Community Action Council, Option 4 at Maplewood Career Center, the Portage County Black Caucus and the Portage County Access Program.
Hairston retired from the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority where he was the marketing director for seventeen years. He now considers himself a fulltime community navigator.
“I am a messenger to the community and a voice for those who need it – especially the children.”
Drug prevention and advocating for the community have been primary concerns of Hairston’s. His involvement with the Mental Health & Recovery Board began several years ago when the commissioners convened a citizen task force to discuss the overcrowding at the jail. His was a constant voice for more drug and alcohol prevention classes for the children.
“We are extremely honored that Frank chose the Mental Health & Recovery Board as one of the organizations he will be serving in his retirement," said John Garrity, PhD, executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board. “He is well-known and highly respected throughout Portage County. He has great knowledge of the community and is always willing to help take action where needed.”
“Most of the time, people think about their health, but don’t think about mental health,” said Hairston. “However, mental health is an important part of life.”