Fraser public safety part of national grant to further addiction recovery services

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published June 5, 2019

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FRASER — A recent grant toward the Hope Not Handcuffs program will help the hardest hit police departments, as well as continue to provide recovery services for addicts who need them.

Families Against Narcotics, or FAN, received a grant from the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, or P.A.A.R.I. As a result, four full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members will serve one-year stints at the Fraser Department of Public Safety, the Taylor Police Department and the Saginaw Police Department.

P.A.A.R.I. received the grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

In total, this new National Recovery Corps program is bringing on 17 full-time VISTA members to serve with police departments in nine states in an effort to continue to build, strengthen and sustain police-led programs — like Hope Not Handcuffs — that work to reduce overdose rates and deaths, as well as get addicts into treatment centers for recovery.

The program will launch this July, with rolling dates based on the individuals selected to serve.

Allie Hunter, executive director for P.A.A.R.I., said FAN reached out two years ago to replicate program models for treatment and services. Following the model that originated in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Hope Not Handcuffs has locally helped thousands in reaching sobriety.

This approximate $413,000 national grant was conducted via online requests for proposal, in which certain law enforcement agencies were selected based on being good host sites for VISTA members, who work to build the capacity of such departments in one-year periods.

Hunter said that the grant program looks at how many individuals are connected for treatment within certain areas and how efficiency and effectiveness have improved over time. She said that in Massachusetts, there has been about a 26% reduction in overdose fatalities.

“We also see that law enforcement have shifted their approach to people with substance abuse disorders,” Hunter said, referring to “the intersection between public health and public safety.”

FAN Executive Director Linda Davis called it an “honor” to receive the VISTA members, because they add to a Hope Not Handcuffs workforce that is labor intensive due to tracking individuals and maintaining connections.

These individuals are important to the “integrity” of the program, Davis said, alluding to a “hands-on comforting approach” that showers addicts with warmth, both when they enter treatment and when they exit.

These particular locations were included in the grant RFP because they are the busiest program locations in the area.

“It’s really wonderful that so many people are coming to the aid of what we’re trying to do,” Davis said, adding that this unique approach to addiction has been conducted “in a way that’s never been done before.”

It has gotten the attention of people across the state, and VISTA members can make the message more widespread due to general program enhancements and social media campaigns. A new Hope Not Handcuffs program is making its way as far as Traverse City.

“I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t apply again,” she said. “We keep growing and getting bigger and bigger.”

More information about the program and position can be found at paariusa.org/recovery corps. Those interested in applying can visit my.americorps.gov.

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