Griswold, CT – Griswold, CT – In January of this year, PRIDE received a Connecticut State Opioid Response Initiative – Community Mini Grant, from SERAC with support from the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
This $4000 grant provides communities with funding to build their capacity to develop and/or enhance local opioid addiction and overdose prevention and response efforts. PRIDE teamed up with their long-time partner in prevention to carry out various activities under this grant, but one activity in particular, brought a new strategy, new population, and a new partner to our community. Due to covid-19, the two organizations had to re-think their approaches in order to carry out the goal of the grant.
The two organizations determined that there were two populations that were underserved and extremely high risk of overdose, and so decided to target them with this project. While PRIDE and Matt’s Mission are familiar with the treatment and recovery population, they knew they needed to seek out another partner to get a better understanding of the needs of the recently released prisoner population.
So, Matt’s Mission President, Kathleen Dufficy, reached out to one of their board members, Daryl McGraw, who is the founder of Formerly, Inc. This criminal justice consulting company develops innovative reentry strategies for former prison inmates and their families to help with the reintegration process.
PRIDE, Matt’s Mission, and Formerly Inc. wanted to provide resources to people who are recently released from incarceration or treatment to ease the transition back into society, and keeping them safe and sober while they do it. A person is released with only the clothes on their back, so the partners purchased backpacks filled with basic supplies to help get them through those first couple weeks.
Recent releases also face additional challenges with the covid-19 pandemic. They may have been incarcerated before the pandemic hit, so they don’t have the very basic supplies, like a mask and sanitizer, to protect them from the virus.
Dufficy contacted Griswold Masks for Heroes, who then donated masks to add to the backpacks. Other supplies included are personal hygiene items, toothpaste, socks, notebooks, pens, non-perishable snacks, sanitizer and more. Backpacks not only include supplies, but also helpful information and resources to access services and prevent overdoses.
PRIDE Coordinator, Miranda Mahoney, stated ““The timing of this project couldn’t be better. Think about how our world has changed in these last 4 months and how challenging it is for us all to navigate the new normal and the effects that covid-19, quarantine and social distancing are having on our mental health. And then think about THIS population, and how they are being released into a completely different world than what they knew. These backpacks will be their safety net to enter this new world, and hopefully will keep them connected, supported, and safe from the virus and overdose during their transition.”
Dufficy wants to make sure people know that they are not alone. She states, “We wanted to send the message that we care, we want them to succeed, they are not alone in their journey and there are community resources and services available especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The three organizations will continue to partner on additional activities and outreach to the people recently released from prison to make sure they are connected to the services they need. McGraw stresses the importance of working together and embracing the community resources with his statement, “We are not responsible for how a person goes to prison. However, as a community, we are responsible for how they come home.”
A limited amount of backpacks are still available. Please contact PRIDE Coordinator, at 860.841.3803 for pick-up.