Last year, United Way for Clinton County applied for a grant to participate in a pilot program called United Against Opioid Abuse. This program would utilize an AmeriCorps member with the goal of building community capacity to collaborate around the opioid issue by becoming experts on the topic, by listening to the community, gathering information, reporting on it, and in the process be the steward of that information.
The Substance Use Team got together at the Frankfort Community Public Library Wednesday afternoon to talk about some of their initial findings on this project, which will celebrate its one-year anniversary Friday with the Overdose Awareness Day at Veterans Park from 6-8 p.m. Members of that team are United Way Executive Director Carolina Booth, Frankfort Police Chief Troy Bacon, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office Detective Matt Feterick, Clinton County Health Department Director Rodney Wann, Healthy Communities of Clinton County Coalition Executive Director Lorra Archibald and Cheryl Riddel of Q-Source.
A large part of the project was to facilitate conversations with members of the community to determine what they would like to see their community become and what they believed the issues are in Clinton County needing attention. Using this valuable information and access to limited statistics, United Way was able to partner with local stakeholders to bring community-based actions.
The findings from the information gathered showed that community members wanted to see more collaboration between agencies and stakeholders which led to Center Township Trustee Kevin Evans and the United Way for Clinton County partnering in the development of the creation of the United Non-Profits and Collaboration Meetings, which were specifically designed for stakeholders to attend and brainstorm new ways to collaborate as well as share their concerns and plan for action.
Those who attended the Collaboration Meetings decided to create a group now known as United Non-Profits. The goal of United Non-Profits is to create an increased level of collaboration and communication between agencies utilizing a new referral process for individuals applying for assistance.
Evans was asked what the main goal is for the group.
“Really to promote what we’re doing as a community and showing there is hope here,” he said. “We have a community plan coming out August 31 and through that community plan people will know our prevention and our treatment goals that we explained here.”
Community members also expressed that they wanted to see more education about drugs with an emphasis on youth and a ‘coalition’ where there is a group effort pulling and working together to address the drug and opioid problem in Clinton County. Addressing the gap, Healthy Communities of Clinton County Coalition began the “This is (NOT) About Drugs” youth education program at Frankfort High School. The goal of this educational prevention program is to bring awareness and education related to drugs. The Clinton County Substance Use Team was created to bring stakeholders in the community together to work on common goals in a shared professional setting.
Some of the items discussed at the meeting were opioid prescription use has been reduced 63 percent in a year; Healthy Communities has a Resource Guide — Road Map to Recovery — booklet available and will keep updated; about 400 Narcan kits have been distributed in the fight against overdoses; and the state has improved from third to eighth nationally in opioid overdose deaths.
“We have made great strides in the past few months,” said Wann.
Bacon added, “There is not one answer to solve this problem. I see a lot of things we do as a gateway to recovery.”
Overall, many of the concerns that the community has stated have been met by stakeholders, but there are a number of concerns that have not had the opportunity to be fully addressed. Those concerns are:
- A permanent solution in Clinton County for homelessness;
- A sober living home for men;
- A decrease in the duplication of resources;
- More mental health services and providers in Clinton County;
- Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment center located in Clinton County;
- More of a sense of community;
- More family-friendly activities year-round;
- Access to free transportation county-wide;
- And more community awareness and education surrounding Substance Use Disorder.
A total of 40 people attended the event.