United Way, CVS Foundation Launch 2-1-1 Partnership to Address Opioid Addiction
As Rhode Island struggles with the highest rate of substance abuse-related deaths in New England, those caught in the cycle of addiction, as well as their family and friends, have a new resource to access the help they need.
United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) and the CVS Health Foundation have announced a new partnership through 2-1-1 focused on addressing the opioid use epidemic that has become a public health crisis in the Ocean State. Through the free and confidential 2-1-1 help line that’s available 24/7, 365 days a year, the effort aims to raise awareness and bring greater accessibility to treatment resources to Rhode Islanders.
Utilizing a multi-pronged approach, the partnership incorporates Anchor Recovery, a comprehensive substance abuse treatment organization. With Anchor, 2-1-1 will have access to a dedicated phone line so that 2-1-1 call specialists may provide a warm transfer directly to a peer counselor, who can provide immediate assistance. The partnership also integrates the availability of an addiction and substance use subject matter expert, and specialized training for 2-1-1 staff on addiction issues and available services.
UWRI and the CVS Health Foundation have added a list of addiction resources to the 2-1-1 website (www.211ri.org), where individuals who may be apprehensive to call 2-1-1 by phone can review the resources or chat online with trained specialists.
Additionally, the partnership will provide direct outreach to communities in the state most affected by substance abuse using the 2-1-1 Outreach RV. Through confidential screenings aboard the 38-foot Outreach RV, 2-1-1 will provide direct referrals to local substance abuse agencies, as well as immediate drug and alcohol counseling available from on-site partners, and HIV rapid testing.
To help raise awareness of the partnership and the role of 2-1-1 in combating addiction issues, UWRI and CVS Health will employ a marketing campaign, including digital, radio and transit advertisements.
CVS Health is committed to addressing and preventing the nation’s opioid epidemic. In March, the company announced it is adding 14 medication disposal units inside CVS Pharmacy locations across the state to make it easier to dispose of unused medications. This work builds on ongoing company initiatives, including the Pharmacists Teach program, which brings CVS Pharmacists to local schools to talk to teens and parents about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. More than 300,000 teens nationally including more than 3,600 in Rhode Island have already participated in the program. CVS Health has also worked to expand access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone in 46 states, including Rhode Island.
Genesis Center Pharmacy Tech Program Receives Support from CVS Health and United Way of Rhode Island
The Genesis Center Pharmacy Technician program, which was born out of a partnership between Genesis Center, Building Futures, CVS Heath and United Way of Rhode Island, gives students an opportunity to train for a career that’s on track to add 47,600 new jobs by 2026.
Tyla Pimentel, Genesis Center’s Adult Services Director, explains, “It became increasingly difficult to earn a living-wage working in low-skilled jobs, so we adapted to the community’s changing needs” with this popular new program. In addition to the faster than average job growth, the median income for those entering the pharmacy tech field is $15.26 an hour.
The program, now in its second cohort, has started receiving more interest from the community. “Many times, people come in for another class but end up interested in the pharmacy tech program,” says Liz Hanke, Genesis Center’s Workforce Coordinator. Part of this new program’s appeal is that graduates do their internships with CVS Health — which often leads to job offers.
Internships are far from the end of their collaboration; CVS Health’s in-house training modules are foundational to the program’s curriculum. “Our students start their careers at an advantage,” explains Tyla. “They complete most of CVS’s training program before they even graduate.”Internships are far from the end of their collaboration; CVS Health’s in-house training modules are foundational to the program’s curriculum. “Our students start their careers at an advantage,” explains Tyla. “They complete most of CVS’s training program before they even graduate.”
In addition, Genesis helps students develop soft skills, such as writing resumes and interviewing, while also preparing them for the reality of entering the workforce. “It’s important we help manage their expectations,” says Liz. “We explain to them that no one starts at the top, but if they put in the time, work hard, and are dependable they can achieve success — but that it’s ultimately up to them.”
Like Genesis Center, United Way of Rhode Island understands helping others often relies on an agency’s willingness to adapt. This willingness is what helps nonprofits meet the changing needs of a community — like the need for quality adult education.
United Way invests in adult education by supporting effective programs like Genesis Center’s Pharmacy Technician Program. “United Way allows us to help more people benefit from this program,” Tyla explains. “Community members who would otherwise never have an opportunity like this.”
United Way’s continued investment in adult education is important to our goal of changing the lives of 250,000 Rhode Islanders by the year 2020. Working closely with partners, such as Genesis Center, we will not only reach this goal but surpass it — helping many more Rhode Islanders in the process.