WESTFIELD-A $20,000 grant has set in motion a collaboration between CORE of Greater Westfield and the Genesis Spiritual Life & Conference Center to offer a series of Grief and Loss Support Groups for people who have been impacted by the opioid crisis and addiction.
“In June, CORE of Greater Westfield was granted a $20,000 grant from Baystate Noble Hospital,” said Kathi Cotugno, coordinator, CORE of Greater Westfield, adding the grant is for opioid prevention, treatment, recovery and referral for FY 2020.
Cotugno, who collaborated on writing the grant with Elizabeth Walz, executive director at Genesis, noted the grant will create grief support groups for families and friends “who lost loved ones to substance use disorder.”
“The grant will also provide funding for the City of Westfield’s Drug Addiction and Recovery Team (DART) program,” said Cotugno. “DART provides access to harm reduction tools, such as Narcan and safety plans for use, as well as connections to community resources, and short or long-term recovery support. We are able to provide equipment and resources for the DART team and Narcan for harm reduction.”
The Grief and Loss Support Groups begin meeting via teleconference on July 7, and are free for residents of Westfield, Southwick, Blandford, Russell, Chester, Granville, Huntington, Agawam and West Springfield.
Sister Madeleine Joy, SP, and Cindy Hadge, BS, CPS, IPS, are co-facilitators for the support groups which will meet Tuesdays for friends and family members who have lost a loved one within the last six months to addiction, and on Thursdays for friends and family members who have lost a loved one more than six months ago to addiction.
Group meetings on both nights will be conducted from 7 – 8:30.
Hadge, a lead trainer with the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community, specializes in training on intentional peer support, alternatives to suicide group facilitation, issues of substance use, unusual or extreme experiences, and trauma-informed approaches.
Hadge will offer a unique perspective to the groups since she too has had experiences with extreme states, substance use, and working a recovery program. She has also experienced the loss of loved ones, family members and friends to addiction and overdose.
“Although there are some grief groups available, finding one that focuses on loss to overdose is rare and at the same time greatly needed,” said Hadge. “The stigma attached to drug use and overdose limits the space for people to be able to freely discuss, process, and find support around these losses.”
Joy, who specializes in recovery spirituality, cancer care, grief and loss, and long-term mental health and addiction care and treatment, shared a similar sentiment.
“Bringing one’s experience into a community setting is a way of embarking on a human journey to recovery,” said Joy. “There is a lot of stigma to addiction so for someone to come into a community like this where their experiences can be shared without judgment brings people out of isolation of the grief experience.”
Both groups are scheduled to meet until the end of September and Hadge is hopeful that further funding will be secured to continue the groups.
For more information on the group meetings and to participate, call Annette at Genesis, (413) 562-3627. Groups will be conducted on a Zoom platform with a call-in option.