Reintegrate Appalachia (Reintegrate), a workforce reemployment initiative for those in early recovery from substance use disorder (SUD), was awarded a multi-year grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER Initiative in February 2019. Reintegrate is a collaborative effort between West Virginia Sober Living (WVSL), Coalfield Development Corporation (Coalfield) and is supported by West Virginia University Health Sciences Center (WVU HSC).
WHAT IS ARC POWER?
ARC POWER is a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America's energy production. The Reintegrate award was one of 33 awards associated with the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) initiative announced just last month. In addition, POWER grants include $144.8 million in 182 projects touching 312 counties across Appalachia through the POWER Initiative. Together, these investments are projected to create or retain more than 17,000 jobs, create or improve more than 7,200 businesses and leverage an additional $771.3 million in private investment into Appalachia's economy.
WHAT WILL THE MULTI-YEAR GRANT DO?
The grant awarded to Reintegrate will be designated for developing meaningful engagement within the community to create unique job opportunities in four West Virginia counties:
“Receiving the ARC POWER grant will allow us to fully launch this program in counties
that are significantly affected by the opioid epidemic,” said Doug Leech, co-principal of Reintegrate and founder of WVSL and Ascension Recovery Services (Ascension). “ARC is making a huge positive impact on the Appalachian region, and we look forward to working with them to further enhance this impact.”
The initiative combines Coalfield’s successful 33-6-3 workforce development model with WVSL and Ascension’s addiction treatment expertise and recovery monitoring approach to create the 33-6-3-PLUS program. Based on individual needs, each participant in the program is required to participate in:
- Full-time employment (33 hours weekly)
- Higher education in the community/technical college setting (6 hours weekly)
- Personal/professional mentorship (3 hours weekly)
- Robust addiction recovery monitoring program (PLUS)
“So often we see folks in early recovery from SUD struggling to find a good job, especially a job that is conducive to their ongoing recovery efforts. Oftentimes, the catalyst for someone to seek treatment is a legal issue, which then makes it extremely hard for them to get hired. Fresh out of treatment, without the ability to obtain meaningful employment, or working in an environment that presents significant risks for relapse causes people to begin to lose hope,” Leech said. “Reintegrate Appalachia is the agent that will place West Virginians or other Appalachian residents into a job at a workplace that not only respects those in recovery from SUD but also creates an environment that incorporates recovery into daily living. Reintegrate has developed partnerships with established businesses willing to support our job reintegration and recovery monitoring program. Participants in the program will be able to develop their careerand their recovery, simultaneously.”
“This is an opportunity to work on and make tangible progress on a pressing issue of our day. Many challenges will no doubt arise, but the reward of being part of the solution to such a big and important problem in our state will far outweigh the frustrations,” Brandon Dennison, founder of Coalfield, said. “So many of the communities we serve feel overwhelmed by the challenge of recovery and reintegration. There is fear we've lost an entire generation of the workforce. Many feel hopeless in the face of this challenge. This project shows a way forward. Our one grant won't reverse the entire opioid epidemic, but we have a viable plan to be a big part of the solution.”
“This epidemic really requires all of us to work together to address the issue,” Dr. William Ramsey, Associate Vice President & Chief Collaboration Officer, WVU Health Sciences Center, said.“I think our expertise in the area of addiction, the academic side of addiction and recovery, paired with the educational and community side of Coalfield Development Corp. and the expertise of West Virginia Sober Living and Ascension Recovery Services is a perfect match. We have really been able to collaborate together for a very innovative project.”
“West Virginia University Health Sciences Center is so happy to be able to work with Doug Leech and Brandon Dennison,” Dr. Ramsey continued. “It’s just a pleasure and an honor to work with folks of this caliber to put this project together. We are pleased to be a part of it and help support it.”
“WVU Health Sciences Center has been the wind in the sails for us,” Leech said. “They have been an instrumental partner providing startup seed funding, grant writing support, and assistance with forming collaborative partnerships throughout the counties we will be serving.”
“There are numerous people whom we would like to thank, including Dr. Marc Haut, Dr. William Ramsey, Dr. Sally Hodder, Dr. Clay Marsh, Helen Matheny, Dr. Joan M. Lakoski, and Mary Lynn Ulch.” Leech continued, “This would not have been possible without them.”
“Today’s [02/21/19] announcement continues an ongoing commitment for innovative economic development in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair, Tim Thomas. “Investing in key regional needs now—like comprehensive substance abuse recovery strategies, broadband development and skilled workforce training—will benefit Appalachia and the rest of the country well into the future.”
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
If you would like more information about Reintegrate Appalachia or if you are a business owner who would like to participate, please email Maggie Wolfe at firstname.lastname@example.org.