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 email@example.com or call (443) 993-7055 today!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org of call (443)993-7055.
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 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 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 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 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 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.
People in recovery and family members attended the Faces and Voices of Recovery Messaging Training on August 30, 2018 at the Susquehanna Workforce Center in Elkton, MD. Over 30 people were in attendance to learn how to carry the message that recovery works! Whether in private settings or with the media, the group practiced how to hone their recovery story into one voice with a message that we do recover.
Presenters were Chelsea Duiett from Bowling Green Brandywine and Brandon Welsch, Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs at the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration. Sponsors were Voices of Hope and the University of Maryland Training Center. Training space was donated by the Susquehanna Workforce Center.
Participants also earned 6 CEUs for the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist credential in Maryland.
Thank you to all who attended, go carry the message!!!
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.