BCF awarded $60,000 grant to combat drug overdose epidemic

BERRIEN COUNTY — The Berrien Community Foundation sought – and won – a $60,000 grant to help in the ongoing fight against drug abuse.

BCF is one of 10 Michigan foundations to receive the Michigan Harm Reduction Project grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. Berrien Community Foundation will partner with Carol’s Hope Crisis Intervention Center to increase access to vital, drug-addiction intervention and overdose prevention services in Berrien County.

“This grant opportunity was open only to community foundations and we want to do everything we can to bring additional resources to help in Berrien County,” said BCF President Lisa Cripps-Downey . “Lives are saved and families are helped when people are able to access professional resources and counseling services for drug addiction. It also allows our hospitals and law enforcement agencies to focus their time elsewhere. We are so grateful to the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan for making these funds available.”

The grant will help reduce the harm caused by drug addiction in two ways. First, it will increase remote and immediate access to addiction intervention specialists throughout Berrien County, officials said. Second, it will help reduce overdose deaths by educating the community on the availability and use of free naloxone, known as Narcan, kits.

This work will be executed by Carol’s Hope Crisis Intervention Center.  Carol’s Hope is a 24-hour crisis intervention facility that provides a supervised, supportive setting for individuals with substance use and co-occurring disorders. An alternative to emergency room care, the center provides clients a welcoming environment where individuals can develop a recovery plan and connect to services.

“Because Berrien Community Foundation sought out this grant, we will be better equipped to work with people in crisis at the moment they wish to seek help,” said Mike Pioch, Interim CEO for Community Healing Centers, which oversees Carol’s Hope. “Sometimes, even a 15-minute wait to speak to a peer counselor can mean the difference between a substance abuse user getting into treatment programs or continuing with their harmful behavior. We are extremely grateful to BCF for pursuing this grant opportunity.”

Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s overdose epidemic continues to be a leading cause of death for Americans. More than 72,000 Americans lost their lives due to overdoses in 2019, making it the worst year in the nation’s decades-long drug overdose epidemic. Overdose fatalities in Michigan are among the highest in the nation, behind just nine other states. Preliminary data from 2020 suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the trend, both locally and nationally.

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