The United Way of the Wabash Valley announces the first grant award from its Substance Use Disorders Impact Council. Earlier this year the council solicited applications from organizations to recruit, coordinate, manage and monitor peer-led training for Peer Recovery Specialists in our local community. From the application process, Next Step Foundation has been awarded $50,000 and will begin its work immediately.
Peer Recovery Specialists are a form of peer support used to aid in substance use disorder treatment. This approach utilizes the lived experiences, combined with training and supervision, of a person who has walked the path of recovery from substance use disorder and is employed to assist others in their journey of recovery. Peer support services have been shown to reduce symptoms and hospitalization readmission rates in some states by as much as 56%. Unfortunately, there are challenges in the Wabash Valley to secure the training and certification, as well as implement and manage the services, but with this grant, the goal is to break down many barriers holding individuals back from receiving training and employment.
Dana Simons, Executive Director of Next Step Foundation, explained their plan for the grant. “Our goal is to have a minimum of 30 trained and certified peer recovery coaches available for employment, that includes 5 in each rural county, within the 6-county United Way service area. In addition, we will work to help get these individuals employed as coaches first through our Peer Resource Center and then within the community at service and health providers.”
Dr. Jennifer Hutchens, a clinical psychologist with specialties in addictions and pain management among other disorders, and co-chair of the Substance Use Disorders Council, explained the importance of getting these peer recovery specialists into our community. “We know that having someone who understands the struggles of recovery and can walk alongside someone who is suffering can lead individuals to success. Peer Recovery Specialists can work in a range of settings, including recovery community centers, drug courts, and other criminal justice settings, hospital emergency departments, schools, and behavioral health settings. We look forward to helping aid Next Step Foundation in bringing this vital resource to our entire community.”
For the United Way, this award marks the first large-scale grant that has been awarded since its announcement of their bold goal to move 10,000 families out of financial struggles and into stability. Richard Payonk, United Way’s Executive Director explained, “we are very excited to make this announcement today, but we have much more work to do. Our donors and our community are making this happen. They’ve trusted our United Way to bring some of the most skilled and passionate people and organizations together to create and invest in solutions that will change our future. This is just the start.”