OWIF Awards VoH to Train Peer Recovery Specialists

Voices of Hope is excited to announce that the Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund (OWIF) has awarded Voices of Hope up to $50,000 to train people in recovery, family members and allies to earn the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist credential in Maryland. This grant will build the professional workforce of people who help others overcome addiction and lower opioid overdose deaths in our state.

14 students from Cecil and Harford counties have already enrolled in this training program. Students will receive all the required education, internship hours, supervision and final exam support to receive the credential. They will also receive job application and retention skill training with job placement assistance.

“Data proves that the use of Certified Peer Recovery Specialists in service organizations improves behavioral health treatment engagement and outcomes. Individuals are making a monumental change in the way that they live by choosing recovery and Peer Recovery Specialists support them along the way.” said Voices of Hope Executive Director, Jennifer Tuerke. “Voices of Hope believes that people with experience make the best advocates for individuals and families seeking treatment. Helping others well is a skill and requires training, experience and standards. This workforce will continue to make a difference and lower overdose deaths. The award from OWIF allows us to offer a pathway to this profession for those who could otherwise not afford it.”

Voices of Hope, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit recovery community organization that is based in Cecil County, Maryland. It’s mission is to advocate for recovery resources, mentor new people in recovery and support all pathways of recovery. The Certified Peer Recovery Specialist credential is administered through the Maryland Addiction and Behavioral-health Professional Certification Board.

The Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund is Maryland’s Workforce Development response to the Opioid Epidemic. In 2017, Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency in response to the heroin, opioid, and fentanyl crisis ravaging communities in Maryland and across the country. In response to this, the department has secured funding from the United States Department of Labor to counter the negative impacts of the opioid crisis on Maryland’s workforce and economy. The OWIF is a competitive grant fund intended to seed the implementation of new
and promising ideas or to adapt proven strategies at the systems or service delivery level,
ƒ Supports local organizations in developing innovative solutions that lead to improved employment outcomes for individuals and businesses who have been directly or indirectly impacted by the opioid crisis, and
ƒ Further addresses the health and economic effects of widespread opioid use disorder with innovative workforce programs in Maryland.

If you are interested in earning the credential to start a new career as a Peer Recovery Specialist, we invite you to watch the free webinar on our website. To inquire about Certified Peer Recovery Specialist training, call (443) 993-7055 or email voicesofhope414@gmail.com today!

Cecil County Miss Overdose Prevention

Cecil County is a 418 square miles of small rural towns that have share the big city problems of untreated addiction and mental health disorders. For the past few years, this county and 103,000 people has outpaced all other Maryland counties with the rate of overdose deaths per 100,000 people, following only Baltimore City. This county is proud of being the head of the Chesapeake Bay, it’s steeplechase horse racing in Fair Hill and generations of farming families. Picturesque towns like North East and Chesapeake City attract tourists that enjoy the country life and fresh water recreation. Cecil communities rally around their first responders and law enforcement officers and raise funds for cancer and other causes. Few groups or agencies stand up for recovery, despite the evidence that most families have been affected by the opioid epidemic. Now a High School Senior, Mikayla has been Miss Fire Prevention in her small Cecil town for the past 2 years. Her mother and brother worked for the fire company that their family have lived in for decades. Theirs is a family of pride and service for the local community. However, like most, their family and friends have been negatively affected by addiction, losing loved ones to overdose. Mikayla felt more could be done in the community to address this issue, with adults and with youth, especially because it was affecting almost everyone she knew. In 2019, Mikayla accepted the opportunity to educate the community about the risks and the help that is available as Voices of Hope’s Miss Overdose Prevention. To do this, she set down her crown as Miss Fire Prevention. She now serves as an ambassador of recovery at local events that families and youth attend.

Miss Overdose Prevention helping to make luminaries for Voices of Hope’s Annual Overdose Death Candlelight Vigil

Her message is that overdose can happen to anyone and Narcan should be a part of every home’s First Aid Kit. When she dons her crown and sash, she normalizes the experience that many children are having: they are worried about their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles that are struggling with addiction or have already died from overdose. Mikayla knows that the language and message has to be appropriate for children and the general public. Fire prevention and overdose prevention can be equally horrific when stories of pain and death are used as motivating learning experiences. Mikayla has found that keeping the focus on how to identify an overdose and how to reverse the effect has been received as well as can be hoped.

Voices of Hope, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit that is operated by people in recovery whose mission is to advocate for recovery resources and protect the dignity of families who struggle with addiction. Jennifer Tuerke, Executive Director of Voices of Hope, explains. “We often have minors come to Voices of Hope staff and volunteers asking for Narcan and training because they are worried about their parents. How can we turn them away just because of their age? We empower these kids to know they have the tools if the worst should happen, allowing some of them to sleep at night.” She added, “Miss Overdose Prevention normalizes the experience many of our children and families are having. I truly believe that family members will take the Narcan home and save the life of someone they love.” This initiative, along with Maryland Certified Peer Recovery Specialist training and credentialing support for youth, is part of Voices of Hope efforts to reach young people and prevent overdose deaths.

Mikayla is aware that, as Miss Overdose Prevention, the stigma of addiction has been heaped upon her like so many others. Despite her age, posts with her picture have been shared in local groups with disparaging comments and ridicule. She holds her head high, believing that saving a life will be worth it. Mikayla is proud of the members of her family and friends who have found recovery. She cares about her friends that are losing themselves in addiction, following the footsteps of their family members. Mikayla is currently on the pathway to become a Maryland Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, entering the health care profession and helping others to find recovery for themselves.

To schedule an appearance of Miss Overdose Prevention at your family-friendly event, email voicesofhope414@gmail.com of call (443)993-7055.

VoH Announces Gift from United Way

Voices of Hope, Inc. today announced that it received a $2,000 grant from the United Way of Cecil County to benefit people seeking or are in recovery / sober housing who are at risk of homelessness due to COVID-19.

The grant is part of the mission of United Way of Cecil County’s mission to help the people of Cecil County who are burdened by the financial wake of COVID-19. Through the generosity of donors throughout our community, United Way of Cecil County is providing resources and relief programs that serve families and individuals facing sudden financial
challenges.

“Financial insecurity and isolation can put personal recovery at risk. The United Way grant will help some individuals to have housing security while overcoming other obstacles during the pandemic such as being laid off and restricted recovery support meetings. It may save someone from relapse and overdose death. We are grateful for community partnerships that really make a difference when people need it most.” said Jennifer Tuerke, Executive Director of Voices of Hope.

Voices of Hope, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit Recovery Community Organization whose mission is to help individuals and families struggling with substance use in Maryland.

About United Way of Cecil County
United Way of Cecil County is a purpose-driven organization committed to advancing Cecil County’s health and human services agenda by expanding resources and applying them effectively to build a better more self-sufficient community.  They envision a local community
where all individuals and families can achieve their human potential, through education, income stability and health.

Maryland Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Training

Is it time for a new career that reflects a greater purpose? Are you ready to take your recovery experiences into the community and help others to find their own way? Demand is high for trained Peer Recovery Specialists throughout the state and Voices of Hope is striving to meet that demand. We are offering the training, internships and support for individuals to earn the Maryland Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Credential and help the fight against addiction while lowering overdose deaths in our community.

Training and preparation for the exam can be achieved in as little as 3 months as a full time student, 6 months or longer if enrolled part time. Successful passing of an exam will be required at the end of training and internship to earn the Credential. A free webinar about the CPRS credential can be found on our website here. Certification is managed by the Maryland Addiction and Behavioral-health Professional Certification Board.

Participants will also receive training on resume building, application assistance, interview readiness and job retention skills. Peers are employed at public and private hospitals, mental health and substance use treatment providers, jails and social service providers. CPRS make up an important element of trauma informed care, improves treatment and engagement outcomes and increases the recovery capital of our whole community.

We have received funding to provide scholarships to a limited amount of people. Introductory classes will be virtual. To enroll or find out more information, email voicesofhope414@gmail.com or call (443) 993-7055 today! To receive additional information while considering your options, please attend one of our virtual Volunteer Orientations. Register on our Facebook page or our Events website page.

Voices of Hope Recovery Resources in the Pandemic

VoH wants to provide the latest information to those seeking assistance, treatment and recovery resources in Cecil County.

For access to treatment, recovery supports and harm reduction (syringe services), please call Voices of Hope at (443)993-7055 and a Peer Recovery Specialist will be available to serve you.

Treatment: there are inpatient and outpatient treatment providers in the area still accepting patients that have private insurance and Medicaid. Please do not hesitate to start the process of receiving treatment for addiction during this pandemic. Call us at (443) 993-7055 for treatment options and personalized support. The disease of addiction does not observe social distance nor quarantine. If you or a loved one is currently using drugs and not yet ready for treatment, please keep Narcan on hand to reverse an opioid overdose.

Narcan: To receive Narcan delivered free to your home, fill out a form at http://naloxoneforall.org/maryland. If you are uncomfortable with having it delivered to you through the mail, please reach out to Voices of Hope at (443) 993-7055 for creative delivery using social distancing.

Housing: The Mary Randall Rotating Shelter is over for the season. The Department of Social Services is still the first stop for emergency housing options. Their phone number is (410) 996-0100. The Paris Foundation (484) 459-1299 and the Mary Randall Center (410) 620-4701 are local food and service providers for those who are food insecure or without a home and need showers and supports. For access to recovery housing contact Voices of Hope at (443) 993-7055 to talk over options and to receive assistance.

Recovery Support Groups: the Voices of Hope Recovery Community Center is currently closed due to Governor Hogan’s order that 10 or more people should not gather to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Most of the meetings held at our Center have moved to an online format, click the green for the link:

For Narcotics Anonymous online meetings, go to the Susquehanna Area of Narcotics Anonymous. Voices of Hope is not affiliated with this fellowship.

Voices of Hope OPEN COMMUNITY MEETING every Wednesday night at 6:00 pm – this is a regular opportunity for the community to give input, suggestions, air concerns or get involved!

For Healing Hearts Overdose Death Grief Support Group meeting held every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month at 6:30 pm.

For All Paths Recovery Meeting on Tuesdays at 5:00 and Thursdays at 1:00

For online SMART support group on every Friday at 7:00 pm.

More information will be posted here as it is updated. Thank you and stay well.

COVID-19, Voices of Hope and Overdose Prevention

Our Staff has worked tirelessly in preparation for COVID-19.  After much discussion between our staff and Peers it has been decided that, at this time, our mission will continue.  Unfortunately the disease of addiction does not practice social distancing.  Regardless of this pandemic the people we serve need us.  Our community is still ravaged and people are still dying.  

Presently, all recommendations from the CDC and our local Health Department have been implemented.  We have been speaking with the Maryland Department of Health and our local Health Department representatives almost daily.  At our Main Office and the Recovery Community Center you will find the door locked and a notice on the door outlining how to contact our Peers. Any person needing face to face contact will be triaged outside for symptoms and possible exposure before they enter our buildings.  All community meetings at the Recovery Community Center have been cancelled until further notice.  Online meetings are being set up to keep people connected. Please see our calendar or Facebook page for current links.

Our Hope Street Teams will continue their work in the community while practicing social distancing and proper hygiene.  At this time, we have suspended our homeless outreach at the Mary Randall Center, the Paris Foundation and Nicanor.  Information has been given to them about our Peer hotline.  Peers are answering the phones 24/7 to provide recovery support and treatment connections during this time.  Narcan will still be available through creative delivery.  Please share with your networks that Voices of Hope is operational and to call (443) 993-7055 for services.

All staff and volunteers have been advised to stay home if they feel ill or have come in contact with someone who is sick and could possibly have the virus.  Also, if they have an at risk family members to be proactive and stay home as well. 

This is a fluid situation and our staff is staying up to date with all recommendations of the CDC.  We will update as things change.

Stay safe and love one another. 

Karli Secor, Board President

For the Love of Community Recovery Gratitude Banquet Feb. 2020

Over 175 people attended the Voices of Hope Recovery Gratitude Banquet on February 15, 2020 at Rosewood Farms in Elkton, Maryland. The venue was a beautiful setting for a celebration of recovery and community leaders who make a difference in the battle against addiction in Cecil County.

Opening remarks were given by Robin Rickard, Deputy Director of the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center. She stated Governor Hogan supports community organizations like Voices of Hope that form as a response and help to address opioid related deaths.

Elkton Police Officer Jokob Brown credited his parents for raising him with the direction and support to treat all individuals with respect and dignity. His humble speech moved the crowd to give a standing ovation.

Richard Raftery, Peer Advocate at the Cecil County Health Department, attributed his drive and tireless service to his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Linda Williams, Executive Director of Addiction Connections Resource, shared her journey of helping individuals and families access treatment in her community to leading this nonprofit that has made a large impact in Harford and Cecil Counties and throughout Maryland.

Chris Pederson, Vice President of Evolve Life Centers, shared his experience, strength and hope that treatment and recovery will someday be readily accessible to anyone seeking help for addiction, anywhere.

Dr. Niaz was awarded the Cecil County Medical Provider of the Year award for his outstanding service to individuals seeking emergency medical care in Cecil County.

Bob Gauss was surprised to be given the Voices of Hope Volunteer of the Year Award for his selfless service and transportation assistance given to many individuals seeking access to treatment.

This fundraiser by Voices of Hope, Inc. raised almost $8,000 for individuals seeking treatment and recovery supports in Cecil County. THANK YOU to all our sponsors, supporters and those who donated and purchased from the silent auction. Your generosity, compassion and action makes a difference in our community.

Platinum Sponsors:

Recovery Centers of America – Bracebridge Hall
Cecil County Office of the State’s Attorney

To access all the awesome photographs taken that evening by David Heitur Photography, please click this link.

Voices of Hope

Community Leaders Highlight Voices of Hope Recovery Banquet

This event is SOLD OUT as of 2/5/2020. Sponsorships are still available and silent auction items are deeply appreciated!

Voices of Hope’s 5th Annual Recovery Gratitude Banquet will feature community leaders who have made a monumental difference in the lives of Cecil County residents affected by the addiction epidemic. The event will take place Saturday, February 15, 2020 at Rosewood Farms in Elkton, Maryland. Tickets are $60 and will include dinner, silent auction and special speakers. This is Voices of Hope’s annual fundraiser to help local people overcome barriers to recovery from addiction in Cecil County. Here are the community leaders who will share how and why they take the road less traveled to help so many.

We are pleased to announce that our evening will begin with opening remarks from Robin Rickard, Deputy Director/Chief of Staff for Governor Hogan’s Opioid Operational Command Center.

Officer Jakob Brown

Officer Jakob Brown is a patrol officer who has been with the Elkton Police Department for 3 years. His trauma-informed approach to law enforcement has inspired individuals engaged in the criminal justice system to find hope for a new life in recovery. Ofc J.Brown was awarded Officer of the Year in 2018 for his police work and efforts in the community.  He continues to be a figure in the community for his upstanding work as an Elkton Police officer.

Linda Williams

Linda Williams is the current Executive Director at Addiction Connections Resource in Harford County. Linda lost her daughter Jessie in 2007. Her compassion and advocacy for people seeking recovery has helped many individuals in Cecil County to access treatment and supports. She has been working with substance users and their families since 1996. Linda was appointed the Governor Hogan’s Emergency Opioid and Heroin Task Force in 2015. She continues to make a real impact on saving lives throughout Maryland.

Richard Raftery

Richard Raftery is a Peer Advocate at the Cecil County Health Department. Since moving to Cecil County from Philadelphia, he has been an indispensable asset to families seeking treatment for their loved ones in our area. Richard goes above and beyond his position with the State of Maryland, meeting people on nights and weekends to be sure they have the transportation, treatment connections and recovery supports they need to improve their lives.

Chris Pederson

Chris Pedersen is a person in long term recovery originally from Cecil County. He is a father, an employee, a son and a brother. He gives back to the community by helping others find hope to recover from addiction. He uses his own personal experience to uplift individuals seeking recovery.

Dr. Niaz

Dr. Niaz has been a practicing physician for over twenty years, and during his career, he has had a particular interest in the treatment of addiction. He has treated Cecil County residents for opioid addiction and has made his services available to those in substance use crisis after hours and on weekends. He understands the urgency and life threatening situation of the opioid epidemic in Cecil County and gives his expertise as part of the solution.

Voices of Hope will also honor their Volunteer of the Year!

We are grateful for our Platinum sponsors for their generosity and support!

Check out our Facebook page for current Silent Auction items!

Call Voices of Hope at (443) 993-7055 for tickets and sponsorship opportunities. Ticket sales end on February 4 and no tickets will be available at the door. Voices of Hope, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 grass roots recovery community organization originating in Cecil County, Maryland.

VoH – Committed to Serve

Voices of Hope feels an obligation to address our community about the challenges we have faced and our continued commitment to serve.  The services offered by our newly established Crisis Center have been recently reduced due to the unpredictability of funding and need for coordinated efforts to address our overdose crisis.  I am the current Chief Operations Officer, lifetime resident of Cecil County and a person living in long term recovery.  I am a mom, sister, wife and neighbor who is proud to live here.

Voices of Hope is a non-profit 501(c)3 community based organization and one of the only Recovery Community Organizations in Maryland.  People in recovery, family members and recovery allies from Cecil County created this organization in 2013. Our passion came from the frustration of watching our families become decimated by the addiction crisis.  Our overdose rate was just below Baltimore’s, our suicide rate and child maltreatment rate led the state, and our resources were few.

Over time, we built a program to help people access recovery supports such as recovery housing and recovery education, and this work was supported entirely through donations and small local grants.   We added backpack harm reduction outreach in our most disadvantaged communities weekly, connecting people to health care and treatment through compassionate relationships. We distributed over 3,000 doses of Narcan since 2018, and we operate a Certification program to train people in recovery to get jobs in the healthcare profession.  More recently, we applied for big grants with the State and Federal government and we received foundation awards to support our work. We were primarily volunteer run up until 2017. These funds allowed us to hire over 25 local people, many of which are living in recovery. We are recognized as a leader in innovative substance use and disease prevention programs that have been built by grass roots efforts.  

We were excited about the Crisis Center request for proposal and the services it would provide to our community.  We were the only organization in Cecil County to apply. It funded a vision Voices of Hope already had and was actively pursuing.  During the 2 1/2 months that our Crisis Center was open, we helped 75 people access opioid use treatment and 140 people were referred to us.  Cecil County people received compassionate referrals to treatment providers, received transportation to services, and connected to peer and family supports.  Although the State adjusted our grant and we are continuing to work with the Health Department to reach a new contract, we will continue to provide Substance Use Peer Support 24/7 with adjusted available resources through contacting (443) 993-7055 .

Voices of Hope embraces evidence-based practices as outlined by the CDC for how a community can respond to the opioid crisis.  However, acceptance of these practices has been a challenge. Many supporters have asked, “How can we help?” Donations to support our mission are welcome and needed.  Additionally, we need to strengthen relationships with community partners. Support from law enforcement, local government and health care providers are needed to adequately address the overdose crisis of Cecil County.  More than just addressing the use of drugs, we need a community alignment to address our trauma from the effects of chaotic drug use and overdose deaths, build a recovery oriented system of care through coordination of resources and a structure that brings together prevention, early intervention, harm reduction, treatment, and the recovery community along with emergency responders, criminal justice and family preservation equally, encouraging all pillars to take their seat at the table. We need our politicians to be actively engaged with initiatives and invested in the success of our shared efforts.  Without this, we are swimming against the tide of addiction that faces us in Cecil County.

Please support your local non-profit.   If you know someone who has been helped by Voices of Hope, it is because someone donated to the cause and others volunteered in the effort.  We sincerely thank all of those who have donated and have given time and support to our organization. Our strength is the people of Cecil County who are dedicated to preserving our families and our future.  

Jennifer Tuerke

Recovery Support in Maryland