Noel DeLeon, Community Engagement Specialist, gives us an update from the CLEAR team and the LCOTF.
This October, while at home decorating for Halloween with my family, the topic for this article leaped its way into my consciousness.
It happened while my wife, my son, and I struggled together to set up a 13-foot Jack Skellington. When we finally got the massive animatronic figure set up, I was struck by how easily we had managed the task by sharing the duty. The literally gigantic task was made smaller and simpler due to the three of us working together.
It was at that moment that I realized the same is true for all the efforts made by the CLEAR team and members of the Litchfield County Opiate Task Force (LCOTF).
The task force’s mission of caring for our community and specifically those affected by SUDs is a daunting one that frankly would be impossible for a single person. Luckily for everyone reading this, we are not alone in our endeavor. On an almost daily basis, my fellow members of CLEAR and I collaborate with someone on the LCOTF. Every day, we live the adage, “Many hands make light work!”
The month of October, much like every month prior, proved that adage true in multiple ways, and today, I’d love to share a few collaborations between the CET and some of the amazing people of the LCOTF. A great example of this collaboration is evident anytime the CLEAR team connects with The Gathering Place to locate individuals experiencing homelessness who have recently dealt with an overdose or who may benefit from our support.
Linkups with the folks from CHH are another regular occurrence as we work to ensure continuation of care or to locate clients who may be hospitalized.
Our partners at Greenwoods are in regular contact with our team as well – whether it’s sharing docs to ensure outreach efforts aren’t-duplicated, making calls to assure supplies reach clients when one of us has a day off or a meeting/event to attend, or coordinating schedules to make sure our cross-agency rovers are stocked. In these ways and more, we work hand-in-hand with them to serve our folks.
Likewise, team-ups happen regularly with the DHMAS mobile crisis team and the CET – either going together to meet an at-risk individual with co-occurring struggles, sending and receiving referrals, and/or taking walks in the woods to locate and support individuals that reside within.
The fine people of APEX are another amazing resource that we utilize when a client needs an HIV,HEP C, or STI test. We also direct those who need Harm Reduction supplies and can’t make it to a rover to visit the location in Torrington. What’s more, our team regularly receives support from the great folks at The Torrington Area Health District. They supply us with Narcan, facilitate our usage of ODMAPS, open the doors of their meeting room for the Harm Reduction subcommittee, and much more.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how members of my own team carried each other throughout our efforts in October. At a time when it seems like we are seeing more suicidal ideation than ever, the CET worked together to get emergency services to a client dealing with suicidal ideation. One member kept and supported the client on the phone while texting another team member to connect with emergency services. The client was safely taken to CHH.
Later, at the beginning of November, two members of our team also split the workload during an overdose at the soup kitchen. One member helped revive an individual, alongside kitchen staff and community members, while the other called emergency services, did crowd control, and consoled the friends of the overdose victim. Yet again, thanks to the magic of teamwork, the individual made it safely to CHH.
Throughout all these incredibly difficult and emotionally taxing actions, there is one common aspect. We make it happen together!! Regardless of how monumental it can all seem, I am constantly reassured by the knowledge that some of the most compassionate people to walk this earth are my colleagues. With all of us working side-by-side, the mission of this task force goes from an impossibility to a foregone conclusion. The empathy, love, and dedication everyone brings to the table ensures that everything that can be done will be done for our community.
I’d like to wrap up by explaining how my recent thoughts on “perspective” followed me into October.
It was in a meeting with my team, recapping the lessons learned from the PTACC conference, that my ruminations on perspective returned. We were discussing our takeaways from the action planning session that covered all the work done and work yet to be implemented. Unanimously, we were blown away by the efforts made by the CLEAR team and the LCOTF in the past year. All of us but one – our notetaker.
Our notetaker for those sessions was Kyle Fitzmaurice. Kyle shared that, unlike us, he was struck by another thought. He had stood up in front of the group to take notes and his takeaway had been shaped by that particular perspective.
Kyle shared that, from his point of view, he was completely taken aback, humbled, and honored to be sharing a room and staring at the faces that would be the future of the community care efforts herein Connecticut.
I have to say, I understand how he felt – because I’m working with folks who aspire to make the future of our communities a brighter one!