“We need to help the kids growing up in opioid-addicted families,” said a mentor three years ago. As we talked over lunch at Table 24, my concern about the opioid epidemic was underscored. Three years ago, opioid abuse was increasing across the country and in Rutland County, we were beginning to see the epidemic affect the youth. Four months later, we were referred our first youth who witnessed an opioid overdose at home. The mentor’s statement was a prophetic call to strengthen our help for this vulnerable population.
Responding to the Call
As the Rutland community battled opioid abuse, we responded to the call. We began working with Rutland Regional Medical Center, BROC, Project Vision, legislators, and community volunteers to design an innovative mentoring program. This program targets and supports youth affected by opioid abuse. Through research and community focus groups we saw the effectiveness of one-on-one mentoring for youth, however, without impacting the family system, the effect would be minimal.
Today, with over $600,000 in funding, we are on the cutting edge of providing comprehensive one-on-one, group, and family mentoring to hundreds of youth and families affected by the opioid epidemic. Our unique program provides a community mentor for the family to aid in self-sufficiency and resilience skills, while each youth in the family receives one-on-one and group mentoring. Holding to our mission, this coupling of support promotes protective factors and skills to ensure all youth have the best chance of success in life and the workplace.
Because of Your Support
Rutland County is our home and its youth are our future. Most youth in Rutland County are growing up believing that the community does not care about them. Many live in poverty and are surrounded by drugs, alcohol or violence. Yet, these youth will be tomorrow’s teachers, doctors, accountants or maybe even governor. They cannot grow up alone. Just one hour a week can make a huge impact! Together, we can make a difference.
Chris Hultquist, Executive Director