Listen to a vital discussion about Recovery Centers & Recovery Employment services provided by Prevention Links, with their Communications & Development Coordinator, Madeline Desrosiers (she/her) on EBC Radio 1170AM – the #1 listened to South Asian radio station in the U.S. See the transcript of the discussion below.
Host: As you know, there is so much misuse of drugs, alcohol and tobacco related issues. To prevent that, we are going to talk to Prevention Links, (an organization) doing a wonderful service for the community.
Today with us we have with us Madeline Desrosiers. She is the Communications and Development Coordinator at Prevention Links, a New Jersey-based non-profit focused on addiction prevention and recovery support. She went to Rutgers University and received her Bachelor’s in Psychology, with a minor in Women & Gender Studies. Madeline was instrumental in the launch of the Union County Rise Up Recovery Center where she used her passion for recovery accessibility to start the first-ever Recovery Dharma and Harm Reduction Works meetings in New Jersey. Madeline is also one of the founding members of the Prevention Links Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee. She now uses her knowledge of peer recovery, advocacy, event-planning and relationship-building to garner partnerships with community stakeholders for Prevention Links.
With that, Madeline, a very warm welcome on EBC Radio, how are you doing?
Madeline: I’m good, I’m good! How are you?
Host: Great. So Madeline, such a great service Prevention Links is doing. So can you tell us about Prevention Links and its mission?
Madeline: Sure! So, Prevention Links is a nonprofit organization that has been serving Union County and the surrounding region for over 50 years. Our mission is to foster healthy, sustainable communities by empowering people through education, collaboration, and serving as a linkage to resources. We take a leadership role in the prevention of the misuse of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and related issues.
Our prevention services focus on building strong, connected, resilient families and communities by providing education that allows people of all ages to make informed choices about their health, including how they do or don’t engage with substances. We provide evidence-based educational programs in the schools, in the community, for older adults, for parents, and more. We also operate 5 Family Success Centers which are homelike gathering places where families can come for support and resources.
Then we have our addiction recovery services focus on providing direct peer support, meaning that our staff are people who have lived experiences similar to the participants they’re serving. We also have a focus on supporting the families who have a loved one who struggles with addiction, which you spoke with our CEO, Morgan about a couple of weeks ago. Lastly, we have our recovery community development initiatives. These initiatives take broader steps towards strengthening the addiction recovery community.
Host: Yes, it was a pleasure speaking to Morgan a couple of weeks ago. So now can you also give us an overview of what services you provide?
Madeline: Yeah! So, today I want to share specifically about our services which help develop and strengthen the recovery community and we do this in a few ways.
We operate 3 recovery community centers which are safe, supportive gathering places for the recovery community. At the centers, we offer peer recovery support (which I mentioned earlier), workforce training and career services, social activities, and a variety of recovery support group meetings. There are also volunteer opportunities for individuals who want to give back to the recovery community – actually, many of our volunteers start as Recovery Center participants. That’s when we really see how the recovery community comes full circle. A sense of belonging is such a vital component to sustaining recovery long-term. Our Recovery Centers have the power to do that.
Additionally, when thinking about the things that ensures an individual’s success for long-term recovery, employment is a really vital component. Our Pathways to Recovery Employment programs offer the opportunity for individuals in recovery from addiction or indirectly impacted by addiction to receive career services. This is anything from internships to certification trainings to job searching. The goal is to holistically address barriers individuals impacted by addiction face so that they can find gainful employment. Overall, this service strengthens the recovery community as a whole by empowering the individuals who are a part of it.
Host: Such a great service for the community. So how do people access these programs and services?
Madeline: So, our recovery centers are located in Roselle, Jersey City and New Brunswick. Many participants start their involvement with the recovery centers by attending one of the many virtual or in-person recovery support meetings which are held 5 days a week. People also get involved by attending one of the many free social activities. To learn more about the support meetings offered or to see the activities scheduled for this month, you can get information by calling our 24/7 helpline at 1-855-825-3275 or email email@example.com. More information can also be found on our website at preventionlinks.org
Host: Well that’s great! So now Madeline, are these programs and services limited in coverage to a specific region and what are the eligibility requirements if any?
Madeline: Our recovery community centers generally serve residents within the county they serve, which are Union, Hudson and Middlesex counties, but are open to anyone seeking a recovery community. The only eligibility requirements are having current or past experience with problematic substance use.
Our Recovery Employment programs, offer workforce support in Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Union, Essex and Hudson counties. Unlike the recovery centers, eligibility is restricted to residents who live in those counties. This is also offered in other counties across the state, so if someone lives outside of those 5 counties, they can still give us a call and we will point them in the right direction.
Host: That’s fantastic, so they can still call the same hotline number which is 24/7 1-855-825-3275 right?
Host: Now tell me, how does this work specifically target or serve the South Asian Population listening?
Madeline: Our services are open to all Somerset, Middlesex, Union, Essex and Hudson county residents wanting to get involved in the recovery community or receive workforce support. We know that there is a large and thriving South Asian population in the communities we serve; our hope is to be a resource to those people and to provide services that are culturally relevant in their preferred language. We utilize a translation service that allows us to connect with people in over 100 languages.
Host: Oh wow, that’s really huge, you know? 100 languages meaning you cover different regions, Spanish, English, Hindi, or whatever. In the South Asian community you must be serving a lot of different languages as well, right?
Madeline: Yes, absolutely.
Host: How is your program serving COVID-19 impacted individuals and/or what needs resulting from COVID-19 can you meet?
Madeline: You know, substance use and mental health challenges have risen significantly during the pandemic, and continue to rise as things start to return to the “new normal.” From the start of the pandemic, we’ve been providing services on the phone and over Zoom. We are once again offering in-person services as well, but plan to continue to make virtual options available for both group and individual services.
We also found that connection and fun are incredibly important for our recovery communities coming out of the pandemic. We’re still offering monthly social activities through our Recovery Centers. Some of our most popular events are hikes and game nights…and this really goes back to that sense of belonging – there’s really just nothing like it. I believe that’s what keeps people hopeful and most importantly, connected.
Host: That’s fantastic that you have both the options for virtual as well as in-person, so people can choose whatever is comfortable for them. What is a service component that is novel or unique to your program?
Madeline: I think it’s the fact that we address recovery and the negative impacts of addiction on all levels – from preventing substance use, to supporting the individuals and families impacted by addiction, to strengthening the recovery community and workforce. This is a holistic approach, and it’s rarely found under the umbrella of a single organization. All of these services are also provided by staff who are on one level or another personally invested in the work that we do – whether they are in recovery, or maybe saw how prevention could have made a difference in their own community. We’re addressing addiction as a public health crisis which touches each and every one of us, and with that knowledge, we empower each and every individual, family and community to be the change in their own environment.
Host: That’s really good! The people who are working there, they themselves have experience with certain situations and the outcomes of that. They themselves are helping these people, right?
Madeline: Yeah, absolutely.
Host: Can you share with us a quick success story, omitting any elements that would identify your participant?
Madeline: Yeah of course, this is my favorite part! So, there’s a staff member who joined our team a little over a year ago. She first joined us through our Recovery Employment Program as a recovery center intern and I was her supervisor at the time. She was still on recovery court, previously called drug court, which was due to numerous drug-related arrests and incarcerations. This may have been an issue at another internship, but our organization is familiar with recovery court processes and we obviously supports anyone seeking meaningful employment in recovery.
Her lived experience of addiction and recovery, strong work ethic, and passion for helping others made her stand out to us. So luckily, at the end of her internship, we had an open position for a recovery peer on our 24-hour peer hotline. We offered her this position and she accepted it! She’s still working with us today and we have nothing but amazing things to say about her and how far she has come. I think that she is truly a testament of what can happen when you address all of the needs of a person seeking long-term recovery. She believed in her own potential and all we had to do was reinforce that belief. We’re really grateful to have her on the team, and I feel lucky to have been able to supervise a person so dedicated to our mission. She made my job really easy, and now I get to see her making a positive and profound impact on the recovery community.
Host: Well it’s such a proud feeling for you, she was under your supervision and today she is fully recovered and working for the same organization where she got recovery (support). So what better testimonial to have! What is the best way for listeners to contact you for more information?
Madeline: Yes absolutely! People can call our 24 hour, 7 days a week hotline at 1-855-825-3275 or they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Host: Thank you so much Madeline for coming on EBC Radio and sharing all of this wonderful information, and the work & service you’re providing to the community is really commendable. What better thing I can ask of you that you are doing, such a great job and great work. Listening to your testimonial and the recovery (work) you did with one of your (participants) is amazing. So continue that and I’m hoping I can talk to you again sometime soon. Looking forward to talking to you again, thank you so much.
Madeline: Thank you so much Alka, really grateful for the opportunity. Have a nice day.