FLINT (WJRT) (03/14/19) - Michigan is just the second state to receive money from Bloomberg Philanthropies' $50 million dollar initiative.
How would the investment, just announced Thursday, best serve grassroots organizations in mid-Michigan?
Certified recovery coach and recovery housing manager Denise Terryah of the Flint Odyssey House knows how important outreach and engagement are to the organization's mission. She says that's one of the best ways a portion of the investment could help the organization.
"It's amazing that us coaches get to work here and help our clients to get in life to where we're at, but where should we really be? We should be at the corner of Fenton and Atherton," Terryah said. "It's hard to get them to walk through the doors, but if I go to them and speak to them cause I've got the experience. I'm in recovery myself so I understand."
Pennsylvania, the hardest hit state, was the first to receive the funding. Michigan ranks eighth in overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Michigan Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon will lead the way in implementing how the money is used.
"One of the first things we're going to do is actually travel the state and talk to folks and learn from them about what's most effective and what are the gaps," Gordon said. "Better surveillance of where there are challenges, where there are needs, medication-assisted treatment, working with hospitals and providers to make sure the best possible practices are in place."
Gordon, along with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, made the announcement in Eastpointe where first responders have been greatly impacted by the epidemic.
"Firefighters here are saving the lives of more people with overdose calls than they are from fighting fires," Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg also called out the president and lawmakers for not doing more.
"Our president has also threatened cuts to Medicare and Medicaid which does connect millions of people to the addiction treatment they need. He wants to spend billions on a wall that will do little to stop the flow of opioids and Fentanyl into our country," Bloomberg said.
Although the plan has yet to shape up, Whitmer signaled how we could expect those funds to be used - which could be a plus for places like Odyssey House.
"We can ensure that facilities like these will help recovering Michiganders access things like counseling, mentoring, job treatment," Whitmer said.
Bloomberg says success in Pennsylvania and now Michigan potentially means there will be a model to end the epidemic everywhere.
Flint Odyssey House takes people in for the detox program 24/7 at the Beach Street location. Call them at 810-238-5888 if you need help.