Voices of Hope and Healing Hearts will host a candlelight vigil service on International Overdose Awareness day, August 31, 2019. This is the 6th annual gathering of families and loved ones at the Gilbert Lighthouse Pavilion at the North East Community Park. From 6:30 pm until sunset, families are encouraged to attend and decorate a luminary for free. There will be crafts for children to create and take home. Rob Robinson will play an acoustic set that will accompany the river backdrop. There will be speakers and an opportunity for to share about the life of their loved one, if so moved.
Jourdan Creations is offering T-shirts for $20 that include your loved one’s name and photo for this event. This is not a fundraiser. Please call (410) 920-3290 to order.
Healing Hearts is an Overdose Death Grief Support Group held at the Voices of Hope office at 224 E. Main St. in Elkton every other Wednesday. The next meeting is Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 6:30 pm. All are welcome.
Cecil County lost 57 people in 2018 to overdose. We have had led the state with the most amount of overdoses per capita for the past several years, behind Baltimore City. Voices of Hope strives to end overdose deaths. We advocate for the dignity and respect for families who are struggling with addiction and those who lost the fight in Cecil County.
Voices of Hope invites you to attend our 4th Annual Gratitude Banquet on March 23, 2019 at NorthBay in North East, Maryland. This fundraiser is our opportunity to show appreciation for those who have made an impact on the fight for recovery in Cecil County. This year’s theme is “Fighting for Families” and will allow us to shine a light on individuals whose compassion is outstanding.
Our main speaker will be Judge Jane Murray, Associate Judge for the Cecil County Circuit Court. A graduate from Elkton High School and past Attorney for the Domestic Violence Program, Judge Murray understands the culture of our community and the challenges of families struggling for a new life in recovery.
Please join us in celebrating this year’s amazing honorees:
Jennifer LePore – for her selfless service supporting Voices of Hope and Healing Hearts – our overdose death grief support group.
Karen Prettyman-Bishop and Addiction Connections Resource – for compassionate and dedicated support of Cecil County people in recovery, notably the Mommy & Me Oxford House in Elkton.
Lorri Irrgang – with Maryland Coalition of Families, for going above and beyond to help Cecil County families struggling with addiction to find recovery supports and a voice for self advocacy.
Jack Foraker – for being the “Rock of Sobriety” for Cecil County. Life-long resident of North East and currently Executive Director of Haven House, he has been a model of service and recovery for over 35 years.
Voices of Hope is an organization made up of people in recovery, along with family members and allies who support recovery. We have been working together to advocate and build recovery supports in our community since 2013. This year has been our busiest ever. Your donations of time, talents and treasures have made results that we are proud to report. We hope to inspire community members to continue to support us, or maybe give for the first time.
We have three main initiative where we focus our efforts.
Outreach – going into the communities and neighborhoods that are hardest hit by this epidemic.
CPRS Academy – providing training to our members so they are best informed to provide help to others, as well as creating a career path for those in recovery who often times face barriers to employment.
Fundraising – raising money to overcome barriers to treatment and providing funding for recovery housing to people in early recovery.
We began most of our official outreach programs in October, 2018. Our approach is based on harm reduction, reducing overdose deaths and addressing the various other health issues that plague our communities. We are also a connection to recovery for them if they decide to ask for help. Hope Street, our backpack outreach program, provides health resources and builds recovery relationships in our most disadvantaged areas: Hollingsworth Manor, Lakeside Trailer Park, Winding Brook and Downtown Elkton. Our Homeless Outreach provides peer support and engagement at Paris Foundation, the Mary Randall Center and everywhere in-between. Our Overdose Survivor Outreach engages people who survive an overdose at their homes and with their families. Here is our data from October 1 through December 22, 2018:
484 Connections (conversations and engagement)
178 Safe Use Bags given (wound care, clean supplies, resources)
121 Safe Sex Bags given (condoms, dental dams, resources)
102 doses of Narcan given
53 Discarded syringes collected
103 people attended 6 Town Hall meetings that we held throughout Cecil County. At these Town Halls, we invited local people to talk about their own recovery, the strengths that support recovery and some barriers that we would work together to overcome.
Healing Hearts Overdose Death Grief Support Group formed in March, 2018 and meets every other week. This group is for the families and friends of our neighbors who have lost someone they love to addiction. We are a place to grieve openly, when you want, how you want, with people who understand.
70 people attended Financial Capabilities classes held throughout the year, teaching people new in recovery or anyone interested how to better manage finances.
668 people attended various activities hosted by VoH: our Gratitude Banquet, Adopt-A-Hwy clean ups, Memorial Day cook out, etc. These events help promote the positive effects that recovery has on the entire community. When people recover, so do their families, friends and neighbors.
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Academy
74 people attended 4 Recovery Volunteer Army Trainings that introduced Cecil County statistics on drug use and overdoses, domestic violence, abuse and neglect. Training was given on principles of trauma-informed care and harm reduction to people interested in helping their neighbors. These trainings are given free of charge. Attendees were invited to sign up to a VoH volunteer outreach team.
282 people were trained in courses that gave CEUs for the Maryland Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Credential. Courses included Recovery Coach Academy, Trauma-Informed Care for Peers, Harm Reduction for Peers, Recovery Messaging and Mental Health First Aid for Adults and Youth. We believe each student is better capable of carrying the message of recovery to those who suffer at any stage of sickness or in a crisis.
$2,508 was given to residents seeking recovery supportive housing in Cecil County as they left treatment, or to continue their housing during periods of difficulty. We also were able to provide transportation to treatment for people who had no other way to get there.
We believe that addiction and recovery is a health issue. By providing our community with the tools and information to stay alive and access treatment, we will lower the number of deaths by overdose. By providing safe use and safe sex equipment with resources, we will prevent infections that are costly to treat and can be barriers to recovery. By keeping people alive and out of jail, we will keep families together and reduce the trauma and cost of providing care for children living without their parents. By providing Narcan to people who use drugs, we are empowering people to save each other, more often.
Our volunteers and employees are people who are in recovery or family members of people in recovery. We reflect all pathways of addiction and mental health recovery and are passionate about the people of Cecil County, Maryland. We care and will go above and beyond to help someone seeking recovery. Our problem here is big and it will take big hearts to make the difference.
If addiction has touched your life or someone you love, please consider giving what you can to our mission: Attend a Volunteer Orientation and join a team that works with your schedule. Donate funds that will be used to purchase Narcan and contribute to someone’s safe place in recovery. Reach out to us and be a face and voice of recovery in a video or story of hope. Thank you!
Our outreach teams believe in the transformative power of recovery. Our lives have been forever changed by this power. Hope Street is our action of gratitude: reaching out to addicts, offering relationship, information, resources and recovery. Leading up to Giving Tuesday, Voices of Hope wants you to know how your donation is investing in our community response to the addiction epidemic in Cecil County. One way is through funding supplies, training and coordination of our Hope Street Outreach. This team’s focus is building helping relationships in the communities that need it most. We talk and relate to people as equals. Our mission is to give hope that recovery is possible for all. Team members have been trained in harm reduction principles, trauma informed care and local treatment and recovery support organizations. Many friendships have been made and community trust in Voices of Hope as a helping organization is growing.
Teams of two go out routinely every week in Hollingsworth Manor, Lakeside Trailer Park, Downtown Elkton and Winding Brook. Teams include people who live and recover in these neighborhoods.
In October, Hope Street made 127 connections in 22 walks. 2 sex workers in Elkton were connected to treatment and recovery supports in our first week. We offer information on how to get into treatment, 12-step meeting information and crisis hotline numbers. We also give the walk-in treatment times for the Health Clinic at the Cecil County Health Department. We know that giving information and encouraging people who use drugs to seek prevention and treatment will lower infections and Hepatitis C transmission. People will find recovery. Families will be saved.
Your funds pay for pamphlet printing, condoms, safe use and wound care supplies, needle collection equipment (we clean them up on the street) and for the purchase of Narcan. By distributing Naloxone to the people who use drugs and their families, we believe the number of overdose deaths will decrease.
Please support Voices of Hope as your charity of choice this Giving Tuesday. Your investment makes Cecil a safer place to live and raise our children. Thank you!
Trained volunteers hit the streets in October to make relationships and to offer resources, safe use and safe sex materials throughout Cecil County, Maryland. Hope Street is the backpack outreach team of Voices of Hope, Inc. Volunteers are people in recovery, family members and those who support recovery in Cecil County. Hope Street volunteers have been trained in harm reduction and trauma-informed care. They are given information and training to connect people with treatment providers and recovery supports.
Teams walk through 3 neighborhoods on a weekly basis, always at the same time. The SHE Unit is building relationships with sex workers in our County. The police and sheriff departments are aware of the shifts and the identifiers that indicate Voices of Hope volunteers.
This outreach is an effort to build helping relationships and reduce the harm that comes with chaotic drug use. By offering safe sex and safe use equipment, Voices of Hope will reduce the number of those acquiring infections and serious, expensive health conditions like Hepatitis C and HIV. The teams also collect and dispose of discarded needles if any are found along the routes. Narcan will be distributed with training to anyone interested.
One of the best results of this outreach is building new relationships with people who care about their neighbors. Many good citizens are in these neighborhoods and want to contribute to the well being of their communities. Together, we will carry a message of caring, health and help to get to the next step of a recovery journey.
Want to join our teams? Plan to attend the next Volunteer Recovery Army Training on November 3, 2018 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, location to be announced. Stay tuned to our Facebook page or website for information or sign up to our email list by request email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voices of Hope joined forces with Youth Empowerment Source (YES), Maryland Coalition of Families and local churches to host a day of activities for International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, 2018. A Prayer Breakfast was held at Wesley United Methodist Church to start the day. Members of the church and the Paris Foundation served a breakfast donated by Chik Fil A. After breakfast, members of the community offered prayers out loud for the families and loved ones of those lost and for those who still suffer.
After breakfast, a Memorial Wall was constructed outside the old County Courthouse. Names that had been emailed to YES were placed on the wall. Others were added by friends and family as the event was carried out. There were crafts for children, drinks and snacks while people shared about the lives of those lost. Marc Butler, from Ashley Addiction Treatment, brought donuts to share with the group. Dr. Alan McCarthy, the County Executive, and Judge Will Davis, stopped in to pay their respects. Family members and friends braved the rain to express their grief for those whose lives were cut short by overdose.
In the evening, a candlelight vigil was held at the North East Community Park. Attendees were invited to design a luminary for their loved one and to speak about their life and loss. Josh, from an Elkton area recovery house, donated his talent and played music throughout the event. Jim Kamahachi from St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church, gave the closing prayer as storms were approaching. A huge fire on Route 40 kept many from getting to the event on time or at all. Nonetheless, respectful space and condolences were expressed for those lost.
Thank you to the many Voices of Hope volunteers that made this day possible. Their service to those who grieve and for those who have passed made this event possible. Thank you to YES who gave extra attention to this issue that impacts too many of the youth they serve. We are also grateful for the Christians from many organizations who participated, even when this has not effected them personally. Thank you for your compassion and active involvement. You make the new culture of Cecil County.
People in recovery, family members and concerned citizens attended the 2nd Recovery Volunteer Army training on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at the Susquehanna Workforce Center in Elkton, MD. In this three hour training, participants learned about harm reduction and trauma informed care. They also received general information about all approaches to addiction treatment and support available in Cecil County. Training included information about homeless shelters and service providers, mental health treatment providers, how to access the Mobile Crisis Unit and Suicide Hotline.
Training also included statistics about the health and well being of Cecil County residents, as found on reports from the Cecil County Health Department, available on their website.
Participants were invited to join an outreach team at the close of the training. They were asked to use the information in the neighborhood in which they live or work. A brief overview of the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist credential was also explained and support offered.
Voices of Hope appreciates the individuals who have stepped up to be a part of the solution to the addiction epidemic. It is wrecking havoc and heartache on our community. Education, conversation, community networking and support is key. It takes follow up action that will make the difference in the recovery of our community: one person, one family at a time. Together, we must advocate for change – a change of heart, a change of policies and a comprehensive plan to bring treatment providers, recovery supports and community organizations together, empower them, cut through the red tape and appropriately respond to the emergency situation we are in. This epidemic is killing our neighbors and abandoning children in it’s wake. These are the concerned citizens that will make the difference.
Families who have found recovery, those who seek it for a loved one and families who lost the battle were among the group who attended the North East Recovery Town Hall at St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church parish house on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. Voices of Hope planned and invited the community to attend.
“We never know who will show up.” said Jennifer Tuerke, President of the Board of Directors of Voices of Hope, Inc. “We just set the date and invite everyone: treatment providers, recovery supporters, people who seek recovery and those who have found it. We want to bring the resources to the people, offer and listen to solutions, but most importantly, to build relationships. Active and caring relationships are what makes a community whole and healthy. We believe that, with our limited resources, it is our best defense against what is happening in our community”
Two people who are seeking Senator seats were in attendance. Two area treatment providers were present: Ashley Addiction Treatment and the Alcohol & Drug Recovery Center (ADRC) from the Cecil County Health Department. Pastor Phil Meekins represented Monarch Recovery Ministries halfway houses and some of the women residents of the Amy House were present. Father John Schaeffer of St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church talked about the 12-Step Recovery Church Service there on the second Sunday of each month and the food provided to those in need twice a week. Many people in recovery attended as well as family members whose children are in recovery. Some were seeking treatment and recovery supports for a loved one. A grieving mother was attending the Recovery Town Hall before the Healing Hearts Overdose Death Grief Support Group meeting across the street later that night. She shared a brief introduction which brought many to tears.
Voices of Hope presented how people can get involved in helping and healing our community by attending the Recovery Volunteer Army training on August 25, 2018 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at the Susquehanna Workforce Center in Elkton. Information about treatment and recovery supports in Cecil County will be shared, and how to access them. Training will also cover harm reduction principles and trauma informed care. After completing this training, one can decide to join an Outreach Team or just take the information home with them.
5 people were Narcan trained by ADRC at this event. Amazing donuts and coffee was provided by the Chesapeake Bay Coffee Company in North East. Thank you to all who participated – you make a difference!
Alyssa Holsopple is a member of the Voices of Hope backpack outreach and homeless engagement teams and is a resident of Cecil County. She drove early to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 to represent the needs of our local recovery community. She joined a team from across Maryland to advocate for recovery issues and resources to our policy makers. The day was coordinated by Faces and Voices of Recovery and started with a briefing sponsored by the House Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force. Afterwards, Alyssa met with a member of the appropriations committee and representative for Congressman Andy Harris. Following that, she met with a Staff Aide for Senator Van Hollen.
Alyssa said that the advocacy team talked about bills currently being considered that need funding added for recovery supports. They stressed that the funding going into the existing treatment structure just is not enough. The Federal block grants given to the states for prevention and recovery gets significantly cut by the time the money gets to where it is intended. They also discussed how the overall correctional system needs monetary support for recovery programs. Alyssa said the briefing included representatives from New Hampshire and Maine who talked about how the addiction problem effects so many. The representative from Maine shared about how his brother died from an overdose. The representative from New Hampshire has a brother in recovery.
Alyssa represents Voices of Hope – people in recovery, family members and allies who support recovery in Cecil County, Maryland. She makes a difference by being an active part of the solution to the behavioral health crisis we all face. You can too. Join Voices of Hope and come to our next Volunteer Recovery Army training on August 25 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at the Susquehanna Workforce Center in Elkton.