Community groups receive grants to address opioid crisis


WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — On Wednesday, 15 different organizations in Kent and South Counties were made recipients of the 2019 State Opioid Response (SOR) funding.

At an announcement at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick, Kent and South County Prevention Coalitions discussed how each organization would fund community initiatives and activities to reduce opioid use and overdoses, in addition to supporting those impacted by the epidemic.

“SOR funding was awarded through a competitive bidding process to fund innovative community initiatives and activities to reduce opioid use and overdose and support those impacted by this crisis,” explained Heidi Driscoll, regional director of the South County Prevention Coalition.

For example, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Warwick will use its award of $38,362 to hire a full-time licensed social worker.

Mike Fry is the general manager of Anchor MORE (Mobile Outreach Recovery Efforts). The group puts peer recovery specialists out into the community to reach out to those suffering from addiction. But before he was helping others with addiction, he was suffering himself.

Fry, who’s in long-term recovery, says he has not used drugs nor alcohol since 2012. He says prison was what set him on the path to becoming clean, and there were not many options to get help when he was younger.

“I was one of those at-risk teens,” Fry said. “Maybe if I had more awareness, maybe if I heard about prevention in summer camp or an after-school program…”

Fry says he’s hopeful the resources and money going to organizations that can help will put kids like he was at an advantage.

The SOR funds were awarded by the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH). Director Rebecca Boss says the hope is each award will carry out prevention priorities in each community.

“This is not a state-solved problem,” Boss said. “There’s nothing that we at the state are going to do alone that’s going to make a difference. The difference is here. The difference is in this room, the difference is with all of you.”

More than $362,000 was distributed evenly from Kent and South County Prevention Coalitions. Here’s a breakdown of the SOR projects:

Boys and Girls Club of Warwick
Kent County Recipient ($38,362) 

The Boys and Girls Club of Warwick will be hiring a full time Licensed Social Worker to develop prevention support programming, train staff in emotional intelligence, work one-on-one with at-risk youth, and promote social-emotional learning within the organization. The new social worker will be responsible for the three branches of Boys and Girls Clubs and is expected to interact with 1,500 youth

Kent County Recipient ($10,550)

Focusing on Faith-Based Communities of Color, Bridgemark will bring community and family forums to places of worship located in Kent County. These forums will discuss the effects of substance use disorder within the community and family structure and offer resources for those who attend. Training will also be provided by Bridgemark on prevention education and treatment resources.

Coventry Public Schools
Kent County Recipient ($8,860)

To address the rise in opioid use disorder within their community, Coventry Public Schools will be implementing Recovery Lunches and Intergenerational Mentoring Programs. Recovery Lunches will take place during the high school lunch period where counselors will teach students problem-solving skills. The Intergenerational Mentoring Program will pair 10 at-risk Coventry Middle School students with senior mentors at the local Senior Center.

The Town of East Greenwich
Kent County Recipient ($22,200)

Youth are especially influenced by their peers’ opinions, which is why the Town of East Greenwich is going to incorporate peer education into their community as a strategy to decrease the risk of substance use disorder. East Greenwich will be implementing peer education, leadership training, youth to youth training, community awareness, faith community outreach, and youth outreach to try and increase awareness around the opioid epidemic.

Grands Flourish, Inc.
Kent County Recipient ($29,209)

Grands Flourish, Inc. is working to create a mini-conference to support grandparents raising grandchildren who are impacted by Substance Use Disorder. Grand Connections will include guest speakers, Q&A sessions, and stations/booths for resources that grandparents will need to assist and support them in raising their grandchildren.

Integrative Healthcare Solutions
Kent County Recipient ($50,000)

Although alternative pain management is beginning to gain traction in the prevention community, training in this area is limited. Integrative Healthcare Solutions will work with physicians in Kent County to provide education, support and empowerment with the goal of making non-opioid treatment options the new standard of care in pain management.

Kent County Recipient ($10,241)

MENTOR Rhode Island will match ten Warwick students affected by the opioid crisis or at-risk of opioid use with volunteer mentors. Mentors will be recruited, screened, specially trained and matched with a mentee; pairs will meet weekly at school with all relationships skillfully supported by veteran staff.

Friends Way
Kent and South County Recipient ($15,863)

FRIENDS WAY (Families Reaching into Each New Day) is a unique bereavement center in Rhode Island dedicated to providing a safe community for grieving children aged 3-18, through peer-based support groups. This project will provide specialized groups for children and their caregivers who have lost someone as a result of opioid use.

Hospital Association of Rhode Island
Kent and South County Recipient ($11,557)

The Hospital Association of Rhode Island will utilize these funds to bring the Campaign to Change Direction to the South and Kent County area. The Change Direction initiative aims to change the culture about mental health, mental illness, and wellness.

Boys & Girls Club of Newport
South County Recipient ($63,960)

The Boys & Girls Club of Newport will use the State Opioid Response funding to support youth in Westerly and South Kingstown. During the summer months, youth will receive prevention programming embedded in their Camp Grosvenor summer camp. In the fall, BGC will partner with the middle schools in Westerly and South Kingstown to offer after school evidence-based prevention programming to youth.

The Compass School
South County Recipient ($4,832) 

The Compass School will administer two social and emotional learning programs—Conscious Discipline and Second Step. These programs will teach social and emotional skills to the students and faculty. Teaching the school community to cope in times of stress will help to prevent more destructive behaviors, such as substance use.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church
South County Recipient ($15,088)

In collaboration with the Chariho Youth Task Force, the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, and the University of Rhode Island’s mobile outreach vehicle, St. Thomas Episcopal Church will use innovative strategies to address the opioid epidemic in southern Rhode Island. This project will include a faith leadership forum followed by community coffee hour presentations, growing the Strong Arms Support Group, youth engagement, and community outreach through a state-of-the-art mobile vehicle at local events.

Thundermist Health Center
South County Recipient ($45,773)

Affordable pain management can be difficult to find. Thundermist is looking to change this by utilizing these funds to certify one of their practitioners in acupuncture so that these services will be more accessible. Thundermist will also expand their yoga and art therapy services.

Westerly Education Center
South County Recipient ($26,279)

RIOPC’s Westerly Education Center will partner with the Institute for Education in Healthcare at Rhode Island College to provide education for service providers in South County on behavioral health, co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders and approaches to recovery and prevention. In addition, RIC will be providing an educational program for members of the community to foster an understanding of behavioral health. Programs will take place at the Westerly Education Center.

Wood River Health Services
South County Recipient ($9,197)

Wood River will be focusing on their adult and adolescent patients to enact the Opioid Risk Tools program. Chronic pain patients are at risk of substance use disorder and Wood River will begin a class that teaches self-management to this group. Classes will focus on emotional intelligence, mental health, effective communication and rest to lower the risk of opioid abuse.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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DYSOM 1/14/2022: Robert Walsh, Executive Director of the National Education Association, R.I.

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