Vicki Hyatt, (June, 19)

The Haywood Pathways Center will be receiving $150,000 as one of 12 recipients of the NC Opioid Action Plan grant offered by the State of North Carolina.

The grant is part of an effort to combat the effects of the current opioid crisis in the state.

The Pathways Center will use the grant funding to hire peer support specialists who will work within the center and the Haywood County Detention Center to help individuals deal with addiction.

The Pathways Center also received a $50,000 grant through MANNA Food Bank that will provide a refrigerated van that can be used to pick up produce at area grocery stores once it is declared surplus.

The Opioid Action Plan funds will be used to hire four peer support specialists.

“There will be two support specialists to work in the jail and two who work here,” said Mandy Haithcox, the center’s director. “The goal is for specialists to spend time with those in the jail so they will have a head start once they are released.”

The case management relationship will continue once individuals are released from jail with the goal of addressing the issues that have led them to incarceration in the first place, she added.

The grant is for one year, but there is a chance it can be renewed if it is shown to be successful, said Deb Isenberg, the center’s community liaison.

The Pathways Center has already made a difference in the recidivism rate in the county, or the tendency of a criminal to re-offend. The 2017 statistics show that 74 percent of the women who were in jail and worked through the Pathways Center had not reoffended, while the recidivism rate for men was 55 percent.

The Pathways Center has been filled most nights, despite the fact the economy has improved. The top four reasons people end up at the center, she added, is addiction, incarceration, unemployment and dual diagnosis for mental health and substance abuse.

“The story is getting out that this is a place for people to turn their lives around,” Haithcox said.

The Pathways Center partners with other agencies such as Lifeworks or Meridian Behavioral Health to help residents address issues in their life.

“We still have an emergency shelter, but when we hired a full-time case manager, we were able to really move forward,” Haithcox said. “This is not just a place to stay or a place to eat. It’s a place to make a change.”

“And break cycles,” Isenberg said.

Haithcox related the story of a woman who had been to the shelter 10 to 12 times, who recently said she was now “living with an attitude of gratitude” and thanked those at the center for putting up with her shenanigans. “I’ve got it this time,” she told them.

It is true people leave and come back over and over again, Isenberg said, but they make progress each time they are there.

The Pathways Center is a faith-based facility that provides overnight shelter, plus breakfast and dinner. The center is closed to clients in the day when they are expected to be seeking counseling, looking for a job or working.

Those who work are expected to pay a fee for their food and lodging, but they are still able to save up enough money to put down a deposit on a rental plus the required utility deposits when they leave.

Nobody is allowed to stay at the shelter more than three days unless they work with a staff member to devise a life improvement plan. Guests are tested regularly to ensure they are drug/ alcohol-free and all are expected to help out at the center.

The center is funded through donations or grants and is saving the county money in many ways, from helping build a self-sustaining lifestyle for clients to saving funds that would be spent if they were in jail. The cost for one night in the jail is $78,58, Isenberg said, while the Pathways center can keep a person for $36 a night.

The value of the grant that will add peer support specialists is that it will boost the effectiveness of the work being done at the center.

“You can change someone if they don’t want to change and if you don’t address the whole person,” Haithcox said.

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services received 99 applications with projects covering all 100 counties across the state, with a total request of more than $12.5 million.

• Funding certified peer support specialists and North Carolina certified peer support training.

• Connecting people involved in the justice system to harm reduction, treatment, and recovery supports, including establishing or expanding pre-arrest diversion programs like Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).

• Establishing post-overdose reversal response teams to prevent repeat overdose and connect those who have had a non-fatal overdose to harm reduction, treatment, and recovery supports.

• Training first responders, community members, or others on naloxone administration.

• Creating or expanding syringe exchange programs including referral networks for naloxone access and treatment services.

• Providing training on substance use disorders, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and naloxone administration to audiences that interact with people with substance use disorders and individuals receiving MAT.

Projects were selected competitively based on factors including the potential impact, the assessment of need, organizational sustainability, and evidence of collaboration and community support.

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