Resumption of employment: Ohio Valley program funded by ARC possible

Gale Manchin, co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, met in July with RMAN participants in Recovery to Work and members of Community Action from the Ironton-Lawrence County region. From left to right, Judge Ballard, Dr Gosset, Jessica Theplton, Jewel Hackworth, Ralph Klein, Gale Manchin, Natalie Adams, Michael Kingley, Harry Cain.

Jessica Stapleton was aggressively addicted when she first heard about the Recovery to Work program. She had lost the trust of her family and the custody of her six children. She acknowledges that the program has not only changed her life, but also saved her.

“It saved my life a lot,” Stapleton, 30, from Ironton, Ohio, said, “I lived with my grandmother and was completely dependent on my family.” .. “I participated in this program and learned to stay calm. I was taught work skills i.e. life skills. I was able to build a support system and after about a year I was taught that I could move home. “

Communities across the Ohio Valley are finding ways to help people like Stapleton recover from substance use disorders.

In April, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded more than $ 9 million to 30 programs in 12 Appalachian provinces to help people recover. Of this amount, the Commission spent $ 4 million on projects in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

Substance use disorders are a catastrophic epidemic for many communities in the region. According to a report by the National Association of Counties, opioid overdose mortality in 2017 was 72% higher in Appalachian counties than in non-Appalachian counties.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, one-third of excess mortality among people aged 25 to 64 between 2010 and 2017 occurred in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana.

In addition to serious health risks, people with substance use disorders often face unemployment and underemployment. This can lead to a recurring recovery, housing inequalities and childcare issues.

Epidemics affect not only users, but also the families and communities to which they belong. ARC’s latest fundraising efforts provide essential services to these communities, including underserved areas of the country.

Work through recovery

Jessica Stapleton lives in Lawrence County, Ohio, facing an accelerating drug epidemic. As of June 2021, the number of overdose-related deaths in the county was already in line with a total of 26 the year before.

Stapleton had just given birth and was in the early stages of her recovery when the peer mentor proposed a recovery plan for the work of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization.

Stapleton participated in an ARC-funded program in October 2019. She is currently calm and protects 5 out of 6 children. She works full time in the Lawrence County Health Department as a COVID-19 environmental officer and contact tracer. Stapleton said he was able to find a job through Recovery to Work.

“When I started this program, I wasn’t going to work. I completely thought I could live with other people, but they told me it wasn’t really a life worth living. I showed it, ”Stapleton said.

She believes in herself and gives credit to the people in the program who found her when she stumbled upon healing.

“That’s a big part of that, you need it when you’re in the early stages of recovery. You need people who are by your side and who are ready to be there when you fall. They haven’t abandoned me. I reoffended in this program, I was not always a poster. Even when I fell they were there for me, they were me They believed in me, ”she said, adding that she believed the show should air throughout Ohio.

Not only did Stapleton do the job she “loves”, she was able to win back the trust of her family.

This program aims to build a social system that promotes calm and career progression of participants. Participants can benefit from mental health care, drug and alcohol counseling, anger management, child rearing classes, job training and more.

Signs of success

At the end of the first year of the program, Marshall University reported that Recovery to Work had about 77% of the participants. Two years later, 28 participants found employment in fields ranging from clerical work to construction, establishing a full-time career path.

Gary Roberts is responsible for operating the Ironton Family Medical Center, a branch of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization (ILCAO).

“Nothing is more satisfying than seeing someone succeed in a program like this,” said Roberts.

Roberts oversees Recovery to Work participants employed at Family Medical Center and interacts directly with those working on recovery.

He explained that the program started with a $ 2 million grant from Purdue Pharma. Purdue Pharma is also facing multi-billion dollar lawsuits over its role in triggering the opioid epidemic. In 2019, Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy and did not renew its grant. ILCAO therefore began to look for ways to continue the program.

With a $ 500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the program was able to move forward.

“The purpose of getting this ARC grant was to continue this program… it works,” he said.

The ARC has also funded other programs in the region, including the Southern Ohio Employer Resource Network (SOERN), which serves the Ohio counties of Jackson, Ross, Vinton, Gailia, Lawrence, Pike and Scioto. I am.

SOERN is committed to expanding collaboration between employers and community service providers as a means of promoting successful employment for people in recovery. We offer a wide range of services including Success Coaches, Access to Treatment for Substance Use Disorders, Peer Support, Mental / Physical Health Care, Transportation, Housing, child care, financial management, education and training.

Representatives from the CRA recently visited SOERN’s partner, Bellisio Foods, a frozen food manufacturer in Jackson, Ohio, to see how the money is being spent.

Although primarily focused on people with substance use disorders, many SOERN and workplace recovery participants are often jailed for drug-related crimes. Marshall University reports that more than 44% of participants have legal issues and participate in payback programs, which increases the risk of underemployment.

CRA Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin spoke about the importance of recovery work programs during the Bellisio Foods tour, especially for those in prison.

“”[A] Employers are often hesitant. This is one of the gaps that people talk about when it comes to recovery, and finding a job with this criminal record is very difficult, ”Manchin said.

However, people who are imprisoned or recovering may find that this is not always the case. Julie Boren, executive director of Ross County Community Action, said the job market is in favor of program participants.

“This is a great opportunity to implement such a program because employers have to hire employees. So we’ve found that employers are now much more flexible in their background checks. Boren said.

Stapleton believes drug use and the stigma of imprisonment often follows people long after they have calmed down.

“People don’t want to give them a chance, and this program gives them the opportunity to do that and gives us the opportunity to prove ourselves,” Stapleton said. “You never know who someone is until you give them the opportunity to show you off. We are completely different (in recovery). Do like you were hooked. Never. We are not the same person. “

For Stapleton and others who deal with substance use disorders, these programs offer hope for a better future.

“I never thought I was here,” she said. “When asked where I am now two years ago, I would probably say I was in jail or dead.”

In the Ohio Valley, 11 programs were funded by the ARC.

Gateway to Work – $ 500,000
Inspired Clay County – $ 50,000
Recovery Ecosystem Expansion Initiative – $ 500,000
Treatment Restoration and Workforce Support Program – $ 500,000
South Ohio Employment Resource Network – $ 500,000
Resumption of employment in the Appalachian industrial zone of Ohio – $ 45,309
West Virginia
Building a Workplace Recovery Ecosystem in the Mid-Ohio Valley with Enhanced Services and Support – $ 500,000
Interministerial movement for homeless people in professional reintegration (AimHire) – $ 500,000
Inspirational Hope from West Virginia – $ 499,176
ReIntegr8 – Social enterprise expansion – $ 494,652
The Heart of the VM Recovery Ecosystem – $ 25,000

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