IPSWICH — A recently-announced $1.16 million federal grant will help a Massachusetts-based nonprofit bring in additional volunteers to assist local police and the sheriff’s department in helping people in recovery from addiction.
The grant awarded to the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) will double the number of AmeriCorps Recovery Corps volunteers, who work with law enforcement in areas like outreach, compiling data and providing assistance to people leaving jail, said Allie Hunter, executive director of PAARI.
“This program is the primary way we provide staff and personnel support to law enforcement,” Hunter said.
The new volunteers are being placed in spots throughout the country; in the North of Boston region they will be assigned to work with the Essex Sheriff’s Department and with police departments in Ipswich, Newburyport, Lawrence and Lynn. Others hired through the grant will work at PAARI’s headquarters in Plymouth and in seven other states across the country.
Locally, Recovery Corps volunteers have worked on developing a list of providers and resources to pay for medication-assisted treatment for people leaving the Middleton Jail and other Essex County facilities, Hunter said.
PAARI, co-founded by Gloucester resident John Rosenthal, got its start on Cape Ann, alongside an initiative by the Gloucester police called The Angel Program, in 2015, and has since expanded across the country.
The grant was released by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). The Recovery Corps initiative was started in 2017.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the demand for addiction treatment, said Hunter.
“We have seen an increase in the need for services,” she said.
People have had a harder time connecting with programs whose staff may be working remotely, for example.
And some have found the current crisis overwhelming, with a combination of financial strains from lost income, an inability to take part in in-person 12-step meetings or other programs, and the isolation of self-quarantine tipping some to relapse and, in some cases, overdose.
PAARI does have a small number of full-time staff who work with police and local social service agencies; some police departments also have partnerships to fund paid positions with vendors such as Eliot Community Human Services.
The Lynn positions will be used to provide assistance to the team formed by Eliot and Lynn police, said Hunter.
Two volunteers will be placed with the Newburyport Police Department, but will work throughout the region with Essex County Outreach, which has created a critical incident management system to help follow up on overdose incidents.
The grant funds go to pay both a small living stipend and health care benefits for the volunteers, as well as to fund an educational grant that is available after participants complete their year of service.
The positions will start in August and November and volunteers can apply through a website, paariusa.org/recoverycorps, where they can also learn more about the program.
Hunter said unlike the typical profile of an AmeriCorps volunteer, who may be younger and either about to start college or newly-graduated, many of the people working with them are older and come from a variety of backgrounds.
“A lot of our members are in recovery themselves,” said Hunter.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.