BY JENEE GREGOR
Resources that are available to the community were represented on March 29 by more than two dozen local organizations at Washtenaw Community College’s resource fair. The event was split up into two sessions – the first held on the second floor of the Student Center and the second held in the Morris Lawrence building lobby.
The available information ran the gamut including: housing and shelter information, food assistance, clothing and basic supplies, health care, insurance and immunization information, and more.
Home of New Vision, one of the organizations in attendance, is a non-profit that takes recovery to the next level by offering resources and being proactive in the community. Stacy Sternberg, a board member of the Washtenaw Recovery Advocacy Project, and Chris O’Droski, the vice president and peer recovery support services specialist, manned the booth giving out information about their upcoming events and sharing information.
“More people die from accidental overdose in the U.S. than car accidents, gun violence and HIV combined,” Sternberg said.
They have also been working with the Sheriff’s Department in utilizing a device that can stop someone from overdosing and that has saved 16 lives in the last year, said O’Droski. They hold events around the area raising awareness, and supporting those in recovery, including a walk for awareness on May 21 starting in Liberty Plaza.
The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department came and shared information about the programs and assistance offered to the local community. They have programs to help “interrupt” the violence and ask for community advocates in this mission. They also have a Citizen’s Police Academy which teaches residents what to do in case of an emergency, and ways to curb violence in local neighborhoods at no cost.
They are increasing their community outreach and hope to get more people involved with the process, said Julia Hordge, certified peer support specialist.
Michigan Ability Partners came to talk about the services that they provide to the homeless and veterans of the area. They provide everything from job search assistance, to financial assistance, as well as housing services.
“We just help people to get back on track,” said Monique Beck, the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program job developer with MAP.
United Way of Washtenaw County shared information about their network and how they offer the largest listing of volunteer opportunities in the area. The skills and talents needed are vastly ranging and they are great for building all types of work experience, said Amanda Reel, community impact and volunteer center manager.
Unified, a HIV health and beyond organization, educates and provides testing and treatment of HIV. They offer free testing for HIV and Hepatitis C, and even have a mobile testing center that spends a few hours a week at different locations giving broader access to their services.
Greg Pratt, a medical case manager and health insurance navigator, says people in his field are here to help people understand the high risk activity and to have access to testing. They’ll work with the individuals in understanding what the virus is and what can be done about it, Pratt said.
There were more organizations present and available to the community. The resource fair happens multiple times a year and is open to all Washtenaw County residents and WCC students.