Town Crier

WILMINGTON — Re­cently, the Wilmington Substance Abuse Coali­tion (WSAC) was selected to receive grant fun­ding from the Salem Five Charitable Dona­tion Foundation.

WSAC was started in 2012 by town employees looking to increase awareness and education surrounding substance abuse. Since its creation, WSAC has held numerous educational programs, as well as spar­ked tangible change as to how substance abuse is locally combatted.

Notable accomplishments since its launch include the start of the yearly September vigil to remember lost loved ones of OD/substance use disorder and celebrate individuals in re­covery, the implementation of LifeSkills training within Wilmington Ca­tholic Religious Edu­ca­tion, and providing Men­tal Health First Aid to the community.

In 2017, WSAC’s current Health & Recovery Co­ordinator Samantha Reif was hired. Upon be­gin­ning the position, she, alongside the rest of the coalition, worked to de­fine the organization’s long- and short-term goals.

“Throughout the years the basic mission has remained the same — education and prevention, resources and support; the players might have changed and the identified issues might look different, but the un­derlying goals are the same,” said Reif. “We have achievements in in­creased awareness and education to the community and having conversations on a town le­vel about substance use.”

Today, WSAC has expanded its network beyond just substance abuse, moving more towards overall be­havioral health. Within this realm, a focus is placed on mental health, trauma, and developmental disabilities, in order to emphasize how these factors can interact together.

WSAC was selected to re­ceive this funding due to its overall mission and goals aligning to that of the Sa­lem Five Charitable Dona­tion Foundation. Both organ­iza­tions ​​aim to provide programs to educate and provide opportunities for people entering or reentering the workforce or community to encourage and maintain a level of strength and stability.

With this funding, WSAC plans to pilot a 12 month program, beginning in Jan­uary 2022. Each month, a fun and free event will be partnered with a wellness conversation, activity, or con­cept. Exam­ples could include a wreath making class with a conversation about self-care, a work­out class with a focus on the importance of movement, or a cooking class highlighting the importance of food/diet effects on wellbeing.

Each event will be held at the same time/day each month, with each session free-of-cost but with a re­quired RSVP due to capacity restrictions. The Salem Five Donation was presented specifically with the pi­lot program in mind.

While the pilot program and the implementation of time-relevant programming and resources serve as long-term goals, short-term goals for the WSAC include increasing dialogue and ed­ucation around finances, budgeting, and life-long de­cisions which individuals and families need to make while in early recovery from substance use or while supporting a loved on in active use.

Reflecting on WSAC’s work throughout the community, Reif emphasized how town-wide collaboration has been instrumental in catalyzing progress.

“Working collaboratively and in harmony is of the ut­most importance and is what allows Wilmington’s program to be so strong and in­tentional — we support each other in order to support our community,” Reif said.

To learn more about the WSAC, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WSAC01887 or their website https://www.wilmingtonma.gov/wilmington-substance-abuse-coalition.

WSAC is also currently looking for community partners to join the organization. This includes both professional/corporate partnerships as well as community residents. In­terested individuals can contact Reif via email at sreif@wpd.org.

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