01/25/18 — Task force looks for insight

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Task force looks for insight

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on January 25, 2018 5:50 AM

The Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition, which offers multiple programs and a community center, took more than a decade to build.

Executive Director Erin Day told Wayne County leaders and members of the community Wednesday that one of the keys to its success has been widespread collaboration within the community.

"The very nature of a coalition is the collaboration," Day said. "Our community invested in us. We had people from all different sectors of the community come together.

"We use the resources in our community. We don't recreate anything."

The local Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force invited Day to Goldsboro to share insight into the successful and multifaceted organization, where she has served as director since its 2007 start.

The coalition has captured grants each year, which pay for operating expenses and support programs that provide such resources as naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote, and fund its syringe services program. The organization also benefited from a $157,200 grant from the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, which led to its recent opening of the Recovery Concepts Community Center.

The center provides support to recovering substance abuse users and offers social and educational opportunities.

"We want to let the people who are in our community in recovery know and understand that they can live a fulfilled life in recovery," Day said. "Anybody can come. There's no money, therapy, education, just come and hang out."

The Substance Abuse Task Force in Wayne County, composed of members from the county health department, several nonprofits, Narcotics Anonymous and the community, is in the process of refocusing its mission and goals.

The group, previously coordinated through the Wayne Action Teams for Community Health, WATCH, was active in the past but has more recently worked to jumpstart its efforts. Part of the focus is being driven by the opioid crisis, drug addiction and drug-related deaths in the county.

D.J. Coles, 4 Day Movement executive director, previously served as chairman of the task force, which still has a framework to build upon.

"A lot of stuff was already in place so we'll be able to go back and get some of the bare bones of it," Coles said. "We have to make sure it fits our community."

Day detailed some of the funding sources for the Wilson coalition and highlighted some of its programs.

She also shared other community efforts, including the recent start of the Hope Alliance out of the Wilson Police Department. The program allows people to walk into the police department, hand over their drugs and ask for help getting into a rehabilitation or detox program, without facing an arrest.

Other programs include the Lock Your Meds Campaign, distribution of naloxone to law enforcement, three permanent pill drop boxes and an adolescent substance abuse screening program developed by Wilson pediatricians.

Day offered to help the Wayne County task force as it refocuses its efforts, establishes leadership and starts developing programs.

Teresa Ellen, Wilson County health director and member of the coalition board, said Wayne County's task force needs consistent leadership and funding.

"I think the biggest thing you need to do is find a funding source and hire a dedicated executive director," Ellen said.

Davin Madden, Wayne County health director, said the group needs to establish its leadership, including a task force board, and set achievable strategies, which may include purchasing naloxone for distribution in the community and starting a syringe exchange program.

"We know that there are programs that are evidence-based out there that are working," Madden said. "There's a lot we know about what we need. I think there's no question that we have a lot of work to do here in Wayne County."

Madden said the task force needs to work patiently in an effort to develop a group with longterm goals and strategies that are effective in helping people.

"It took them 11 years to get to where they are today," Madden said of the Wilson coalition.

"The problem is, we don't want to go flailing into the crisis with our arms waiving, making it look like we're doing great things and in the end, we don't do anything to help people.

"I think we need to have some initial strategies that we can go after."

Coles offered to allow the task force to operate under the 4 Day Movement nonprofit, which provides an organized framework and helps with securing grant funding.

The task force plans to meet again in February and is planning a county leadership forum on opioid use in April. Several task force members plan to develop the event that will include a keynote speaker, panel discussion and community input.