May 22, 2011
By BULLETIN REPORTS -
The Harvest Foundation has awarded a $1,362,305 four-year grant to Piedmont Community Services to create a substance abuse community recovery program and work with youth in an effort to break the generational cycle of addiction in families.
“Such a comprehensive program is truly transformative in nature, putting a vulnerable population back to work while being a catalyst for the revitalization and recovery of the community as a whole. There is no program like this anywhere in the country,” said Nancy Cox, Harvest Foundation senior program officer – health.
Drug and alcohol abuse have long been a concern in the Henry County-Martinsville area, and it has been exacerbated in the past 10 years due to high unemployment and increasing long-term poverty, the Harvest release stated.
Ironically, it stated, employers find it difficult to hire new employees due to a high failure rate on pre-employment drug tests. The drug problem has become a barrier to economic development, it added.
The community recovery program will work with an estimated 75 people a year who have been drug- and/or alcohol-free for three to six months in an effort to ensure their long-term recovery, according to Jim Tobin, executive director of Piedmont Community Services (PCS).
“We’ll be working with them to achieve a solid, hopeful life for them and their families,” he said.
A large part of that effort will be employment services, Tobin said, calling that “a really big missing piece everywhere” in substance abuse services.
The program will work with employers in vocational rehabilitation and the area Workforce Investment Board to help clients “find real jobs in the real community,” he said.
Many substance abuse services work with people in their first three to six months of being drug- and/or alcohol-free, Tobin said. Those people are “starting down the road” to be free of addiction during that time, “but a lot of the trick is supporting people in the coming year after that,” he added.
“The AA wisdom is that getting people clear of addiction takes about two years,” Tobin said, and this program will attempt to fill that gap.
“The community recovery program is designed to put people back to work sober and drug free, by going beyond initial treatment and focusing on long-term recovery,” he added in a Harvest news release.
The program will use about 60 percent of the Harvest grant, Tobin said. The other 40 percent will be used to put four prevention education staff members — two on staff and two expected to be hired — in the Henry County and Martinsville schools to work with youth, Tobin said. They will report to Bonnie Favero, PCS’ prevention services manager, he added.
That effort is designed to create a culture in which kids are “Too Good for Drugs.” Along with the city and county schools, key partners will be local businesses, the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services, and the Workforce Investment Board, according to the Harvest release.
The Harvest Foundation was established in 2002 from the sale of Memorial Hospital in Martinsville. It invests those funds and uses the proceeds on local health, education and community vitality initiatives.
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