Agencies detail outreach services for homeless, vulnerable populations 

  • The North Quabbin Community Coalition and the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region presented, “A Lifeline: Mobile Outreach Services for Unhoused and other Vulnerable Populations in Franklin County and the North Quabbin” on Zoom Thursday so representatives from various agencies could speak about the types of mobile outreach services they offer. SCREENSHOT

Staff Writer
Published: 3/18/2022 4:22:19 PM
Modified: 3/18/2022 4:21:40 PM

About 55 people attended a virtual event Thursday where representatives shared information on the mobile outreach services they offer in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region to support homeless individuals and other vulnerable populations.

The North Quabbin Community Coalition and the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region presented “A Lifeline: Mobile Outreach Services for Unhoused and other Vulnerable Populations in Franklin County and the North Quabbin” on the online video conferencing platform Zoom. It was part of the follow-up to the Dec. 10, 2021, Sober Housing Summit, which examined the options available for homeless individuals with a history of substance use disorders.

Emceed by Debra McLaughlin, the Opioid Task Force’s coordinator, Thursday’s hour-long event featured nearly a dozen guest speakers sharing information with the broader community so a resource sheet could be crafted and distributed.

After remarks from Kara Cavanaugh, recovery coach supervisor at The RECOVER Project, McLaughlin thanked all speakers for condensing their comments to accommodate the 60-minute time constraint. She joked the event likely felt like speed dating to participants.

“We’re trying to keep it to the power hour, so to speak,” she said.

Ed Hayes, assistant superintendent with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction, explained how the jail created an opioid treatment program that offers medications like methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol, which can help stabilize individuals struggling with addiction by reducing the sickness related to withdrawal and decreasing cravings. He also said the office operates a re-entry program.

“Housing is a public health problem, it’s a public safety problem, it’s a community problem,” he said. “It needs a community solution. So collaboration’s where it’s at.”

Stable housing is considered a social determinant of health by the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Multiple representatives shared information about free community meals. Kirstin Levitt, executive director and executive chef at Stone Soup Cafe, explained the cafe offers fresh meals at All Souls Church at 399 Main St. in Greenfield every Saturday, serving between 450 and 500 meals each week. Curbside pickup is from noon to 1:30 p.m., and delivered meals arrive between 12:30 and 2 p.m. People can RSVP online at bit.ly/need-meals or by calling 413-422-0020.

Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, said the program uses the Second Congregational Church at 16 Court Square in Greenfield as a base to offer brown bag lunches. In addition to regular meals in Turners Falls and Northfield, the organization has the Orange Community Meal Delivery Program, which provides a hot meal and other foodstuffs as available each Thursday. People can access this program by calling 413-772-1033 or walking up to 104 South Main St. in Orange.

The Orange Pantry Delivery Program offers fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy, non-perishables, protein- and nutrient-dense items, and personal hygiene products. Thursday appointments can be scheduled by calling 978-544-2149 or visiting 118 East Main St. in Orange.

Conway resident Mary McClintock shared that resources for Franklin and Hampshire counties and the North Quabbin region are available at look4help.org.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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