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.