All posts by Jennifer Tuerke

Recovery Month & More

September is Recovery Month! We have a lot of fun events planned – something for everyone! This past Labor Day, we held our first Rubber Ducky Race and raised $480 for recovery supports (sober living, transportation, emergency needs, rent for the Recovery Center). Thank you to the owner of the winning ducky, Jackie Pettis, for donating her bounty back to Voices of Hope! You can watch the video filmed LIVE on Facebook here.

Voices of Hope recently signed a contract with the Cecil County Health Department to join our Peer Recovery Support Specialists and answer the Cecil Addiction Treatment Coordination Hotline – CATCH (443) 907-3467.  Individuals struggling with substance use disorder or their family members can call this number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including nights, weekends and holidays to receive Peer Support and substance use crisis response.  A press release will be going out shortly.  We are excited to be collaborating with the Health Department to provide this much needed service, together.

Check out our newsletter below and participate in one of the many events in September! We welcome you. Our new monthly newsletter includes a story of a life impacted by Voices of Hope and donations from you – thank you!

Open Society Institute – Baltimore Supports Voices of Hope

BALTIMORE—Open Society Institute-Baltimore is investing $772,000 to support 23 organizations working with Marylanders who use drugs, are incarcerated, or were recently released from incarceration, and thus at increased risks of contracting COVID-19, suffering a fatal overdose, or being re-incarcerated. OSI chose grant recipients based on applications submitted in response to a request for proposals published in April.

“Our goal was to invest in organizations that are on the ground and providing critical support to individuals among those most at risk as a result of the pandemic and the related economic impact,” says Tara Huffman, director of OSI’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program, which jointly administered the grants with OSI’s Addiction and Health Equity Program. “These are organizations working tirelessly, very often with insufficient resources, to save lives. As the pandemic persists, we hope these funds will allow them to sustain and even scale up their efforts.”

“This grant from OSI will allow Voices of Hope to meet the increased demand for Narcan, harm reduction services and recovery support of individuals in Cecil and Harford Counties,” says Jennifer Tuerke, Executive Director of Voices of Hope, a Cecil County-based advocacy organization led by people in recovery that received $30,000 in general support. “The demand for services has increased over 100% since COVID. Without this funding, our outreach and services would have been significantly reduced. We are grateful for OSI and their expanded reach into more rural areas of Maryland, where overdose deaths are shockingly high.”

“These investments are a key component in OSI’s overall COVID response,” says OSI-Baltimore Director Danielle Torain. “Our goal from the beginning of the pandemic has been to work closely with people and organizations on the ground to identify ways to support those most impacted by the pandemic and corresponding economic downturn. These investments do exactly that.”

Thank you OSI!!!

Remembering our Loved Ones – August 2020

During this month, Voices of Hope will reflect, honor and remember those who have lost their life to overdose or as a direct result of addiction. The month ends with our 7th Annual Overdose Death Candlelight Vigil. This year, it will be at the Elkmore Marina due to the local parks not scheduling groups. Just when I think I couldn’t be more shocked or numbed by the amount of overdoses, when 2020 was looking like our overdose death rates were actually going down, COVID hit and overdoses wiped out a whole new round of friends and family.

I could rattle off a bunch of numbers that show how many more people are dying than ever before. I could try to show you how much Narcan we have distributed in our effort to help or how many referrals to inpatient we have completed. Some days, it feels like we are bailing out a sinking ship with a teaspoon. But I know we make a difference. To those individuals and families that we help to access treatment, it means the world. Each life matters. Each life represents a family who wants every member in it to be healthy and whole. Every loss will be felt forever and we mourn them together as a community and strive to fight for prevention, intervention and recovery supports.

This is our month to recognize our losses. Please join us.

What: 7th Annual Voices of Hope Overdose Memorial Candlelight Vigil

When: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm on Monday, August 31, 2020 – International Overdose Awareness Day

Where: Elkmore Pavilion, 30 Park Lane, Elkton, MD

Details: Come and decorate a candle luminary (provided) for your loved one. Bring posters or pictures. Pastor Phil Meekins will pray for all of us and our community. We invite you to speak at the open mike, several speakers have already committed. Rob Massimiano has volunteered to donate his time and talent to play acoustic music for this event. Please bring a mask and stay socially distant for the comfort of all, especially those at risk. Bring a chair, if you would like. This is a family friendly event and there is a playground nearby. Narcan training will be provided.

Thank you – Jennifer Tuerke, Executive Director

VoH OD Vigil

Labor Day Virtual Rubber Ducky Race!

Join us for a fun-raiser that you can participate virtually! Purchase your Rubber Ducky for $5 through the Paypal link below – watch the race live on Facebook!  If you win, you can split the pot with Voices of Hope.  After your purchase through Paypal, we will email you with your Duck’s number so you can cheer for your racer!  The race will be recorded LIVE in Elkton on Labor Day, Monday September 7 at 12:00. Your donation supports individuals seeking substance use treatment and recovery supports and their families. Thank you!

Purchase your duck(s) here for $5.00 per duck:

Recovery Yard Sale: a Huge success!

A benefit yard sale was held on Saturday, June 27 at the Cecil Community Recovery Center in Elkton, MD. People from all across the region came to purchase items, tour the Recovery Center and support Voices of Hope. We want to thank everyone who participated, our volunteers, the community and those who donated to make this such a great success! We raised over $900 for individuals seeking recovery supports. Many people paid more than the items were worth just to rally the cause. More importantly, we delivered 88 doses of Narcan into our community by training individuals on how to identify an overdose and save a life. Thank you to all of you who support our mission to change Cecil and Harford Counties – by supporting one person, one family, at a time.

Our staff and volunteers and our families – taking off our masks to smile for the camera!

Voices of Hope Harford County Reaches Out

People in recovery who live in Harford County have stepped up and are reaching out to end overdose deaths in their community. They are engaging with people who use drugs, family members and those who are at risk of overdose through the backpack outreach model. These individuals have been trained through Voices of Hope and the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition. The team made their first walk this weekend – going through neighborhoods that have the most overdoses, training people on how to identify those most at risk for overdose, the signs of an overdose and how to administer Narcan.

Voices of Hope has used backpack outreach in Cecil County since 2018. In May, 470 doses of Narcan were distributed in the areas where overdoses occur the most in Cecil County. Even during COVID, Voices of Hope actively reaches out to those who use drugs and their families, offering connections to treatment, health care and support.

If you would like to participate in outreach in Harford or Cecil County, become a volunteer or be trained to be a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist in Maryland, email voicesofhope414@gmail.com or call (443) 993-7055 today!

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.