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The Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition will expand its reach in its response to the opioid crisis thanks to a federal grant aimed to create a community-based initiative.
Wilson’s coalition was one of six rural communities in North Carolina awarded $200,000 each for the one-year planning grant.
Jeff Hill, the Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition’s new executive director, said the grant will enable the coalition to develop the infrastructure and capacity needed to provide affordable and accessible substance use services to Wilson County residents.
Hill said over the next year, the coalition will be reaching out to various groups, agencies, faith leaders and organizations across the county to create a community-based initiative.
“Our goal with this is to bring as many people to the table as possible,” said Hill, who took over the coalition in May. Those working groups will identify where Wilson’s highest needs are in regards to the opioid crisis.
“It’s a chance for us to sit down with community representatives to get a holistic picture of Wilson County substance misuse and the opioid epidemic,” Hill said. “That’s why it’s important to get Wilson into these rooms to see the real people they are servicing and the real needs that need to be addressed.”
The grant is a part of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program.
Opioid-involved overdose deaths are high throughout the state, with more than five North Carolinians dying each day from an unintentional opioid overdose, according to the state.
State officials say the rate is higher in rural areas. From 2013 to 2017, there was a 130% increase in opioid overdose deaths in rural areas, according to state figures.
‘FURTHER OUR REACH’
The first project the coalition will tackle is a gap analysis. A special work group will provide insights, guidance and feedback on an analysis of the community’s opportunities and gaps for providing a comprehensive, evidence-based continuum of care for individuals with substance use disorder.
Over the past few years, the Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition has partnered with many agencies in its initiatives to combat the crisis.
Hill said this grant will continue that mission but move it forward at a greater rate.
“It will give us more options and a broader and wider spectrum we can work into,” he said. “It will allow us to further our reach in Wilson County.”
He said the project will allow the coalition to build on the community-wide momentum.
“We wanted to get more in-depth in the crevices and cracks,” he said. “By going in and addressing the foundational needs, we can build a stronger foundation to push forward.”
Hill said the kickoff meeting for the beginning stages of the grant’s implementation is tentatively scheduled for July 31. Those interested in volunteering and being a part of the community-wide initiative can contact him at 252-265-5978 or firstname.lastname@example.org.