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Opioid-crisis dislocated worker grant takes much-needed action

After years of talk by committees and task forces, local organizations will take some direct, proactive steps starting next month to help individuals who have been battling opioid crisis.

We applaud the efforts of several local groups in coming up with a plan to help people get back to work and transition into their new lives after they’ve struggled with or been in treatment for opioid drugs or heroin.

Business Employment Skills Team just announced it received more than $680,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor to use over the next 20 months to put 30 people back to work and to provide them with job coaching and support.

We also encourage local employers to help some of these members of the community re-enter the workforce.

The grant will pay for two job coaches and two nurses to help patients prepare for their transition while at Dixon, Sterling and Oregon treatment centers.

The grant actually will pay the wages, FICA and worker’s compensation for those 30 people who will come back to work, according to BEST, which won the grant with help from the NCI Works’ workforce board.

We’re not the only ones who are glad to see some tangible actions to help build a bridge back into society for people in an eight-county area including La Salle, Bureau, Putnam, Lee, Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle and Whiteside counties.

“It’s not just something that we’re talking about,” said Vera Hoffeditz, community services and food pantry coordinator for Tri-County Opportunities Council. Hoffeditz also serves on the NCI Works workforce board, so she was familiar with the grant application.

TCOC already has been helping La Salle-based Perfectly Flawed Foundation, which also will have a new staff member paid for by BEST Inc. through the grant. Hoffeditz said Perfectly Flawed has built a reputation that it is a trusted location and organization for families and opioid-dependent individuals to come to if they need help or support.

Even before the grant, TCOC occasionally was working with Perfectly Flawed to help people who are in various stages of treatment or recognition of a drug problem. At times, their problem can be unknown to most people other than their closest family members or friends, and Perfectly Flawed can help them find resources and the help they need.

Hoffeditz said some of the assistance TCOC can provide include informing people about treatment opportunities, providing rides to treatment or workplaces, budgeting lessons or programming, or assistance in purchasing clothing or items needed for work such as medical scrubs or steel-toed boots.

Man lives are negatively impacted by the drug crisis. Now, so many more will see some hope once the grant is put into action.

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