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SUD Collaborative Director John Leite Forges Ahead Despite COVID-19 Challenges

On a quiet morning in early May, John Leite’s Market Street office in downtown Parkersburg sits empty. In fact, he has barely used the office since he started his role as the SUD Collaborative Director this past March. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been working. His new normal looks like what many others are experiencing -- a work from home schedule that varies based on the number of calls to be made and the number of virtual meetings on the calendar.

Hired in March, John’s position was created as a collaboration between several area funders with the goal to improve access to prevention, treatment, and recovery resources by identifying gaps and improving efficiency. While the Mid-Ohio Valley was new to John, this type of work was not.

“My whole career has been focused on healthcare improvement and most recently, I was working with a healthcare collaborative in Columbus, Ohio. All of the positions I’ve held have had a common component -- to bring people together around a common goal, ” said John.

John’s early vision in the job was to facilitate conversations around the growing problem of substance use in the Mid-Ohio Valley. To him, that looked like sitting down face-to-face with healthcare providers, counselors, nonprofits, and government entities to talk through the problems and potential solutions. When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, those plans all changed.

“This COVID-19 crisis has changed life for everyone,” John said. “For me, it’s meant moving these efforts online, participating in webinars, and trying to make forward progress despite the challenges. For those suffering, it’s certainly had negative impacts but there have been positives, too.”

John shared that the shift to telehealth support has been good for many in the recovery community. “It removed the barrier of transportation for many, though it’s too early to tell if telehealth is going to be an effective strategy long-term,” he said.

John’s work is likely to lead him into new conversations around telehealth services, the impact of social isolation and stress on addiction and relapse, and the challenges of protecting patient data and continuity of care in this rapidly changing situation.

The one thing that’s not changing, however, is the goal of the SUD Collaborative. John is determined to bring new knowledge to our community, to create conversations around the real needs of the community, and to coordinate the efforts that bring solutions. As John talks about ideas like working with area employers to explore how they can best help their employees in recovery and how they can create incentive programs to decrease relapse rates, his passion is glaringly obvious. It’s clear that no pandemic will hold John back from working toward what he knows is possible to achieve.

“This collaborative is only as good as the folks that are involved in it,” he says. “I’ll find a way to meet with anyone so we can devise a plan to improve the resources and the system. Everyone deserves that.”

 

To support the Fund for Recovery and help the PACF support the work of organizations fighting to help those suffering from substance use disorders, please give online or contact us at 304-428-4438.

Grants Available From Community Foundation

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates of Doddridge County, Ritchie County, and the Little Kanawha Area (PACF) is currently accepting applications for grants for the fall cycle of its Community Action Grant Program.  The Foundation’s application process is online; the application deadline is midnight on September 15. Organizations apply to the Foundation and/or any of the affiliates on the same online application form, the Foundation’s Community Action Grants Application.  To access the online application form.

To be considered for a Community Action Grant, an applicant must be a private, nonprofit organization, tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or a public institution. Either the applicant or program to be funded must be located in the Foundation’s eleven-county geographic service area (Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Mason, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt, and Wood counties in West Virginia, and Washington County, Ohio).  Priority counties for Foundation grant support are:  Wood, Wirt, Doddridge, Ritchie, Roane, Calhoun, and Gilmer counties.

The PACF continues to prioritize support for capital and equipment projects, new program development, capacity building, and operating support needs. Within these focus areas, the Foundation also will give special consideration to projects that build a strong, resilient, and inclusive community, including projects that address ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impact and recovery, substance use disorders and related community impact, and the advancement of an inclusive community and/or the elimination of racism and bias.

Submitted applications are considered for support from a wide variety of grant funds that the Foundation manages available to support charitable projects throughout the region.

The Foundation’s grantmaking guidelines provide additional information on eligibility and priorities for all types of grants; visit the Foundation’s website at www.pacfwv.com/Grants to access the grant guidelines and application form. For more information, contact Marian Clowes at 304-428-4438 or info@pacfwv.com.

Foundation Announces $10,500 in Grants for Doddridge County

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) recently awarded $10,500 to local nonprofits through its competitive Community Action Grants Program.

Doddridge County Parks and Recreation Commission is receiving a $7,500 PACF grant to support their pool renovation project. The project will expand the 45-year old pool facility to include a modern splash zone, kiddie pool, slide, and improved access for people with disabilities. This grant is in addition to a $1,500 grant recently awarded to the Park for this project from the Doddridge County Community Foundation (DCCF), an affiliate of the PACF

“The Doddridge County Park is thankful for the gift of support from the PACF.  Renovating our Park pool is a large undertaking and having the support of the PACF is important to the project.  In total we are planning nearly $2M of work and this will help us toward achieving our fundraising goal for the project,” said Park Director Greg Cottrill.

A $3,000 PACF grant to Nazareth Farm will support their home repair loan program for Doddridge County residents. Funds also will enable Nazareth Farm to purchase tools and a work vehicle to transport materials and equipment to work sites. DCCF also recently provide an additional $1,500 for this project.

“Working with the PACF allows Nazareth Farm to continue impacting rural families in need of home repair during a time when other revenue streams are diminished,” said Allyson Petry, Director of Nazareth Farm. “The current grant will support local roofing projects for families who otherwise could not afford it.”

Grants awarded through the Community Action Grants Program are made possible by generous individuals and businesses who have established a charitable fund at the Foundation. The Program uses the resources available through the Foundation’s general grantmaking and field of interest funds to meet the ever-changing needs of its service region. The next Community Action Grant program application deadline is September 15, 2020.

To learn more about the Program, individuals should visit the Foundation’s website, www.pacfwv.com/grants, or call the Foundation at 304.428.4438.

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