New Project Aims to Increase Addiction Recovery Connections and Resources in Essex County

Left-to-right:

Community Outreach Liaison Gary Barrett, Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan, and Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger at the P.A.A.R.I. two-year anniversary gala in June. (Wayne E. Chinnock Photography/Courtesy photo)

Announcing a Two-Year P.A.A.R.I. Partnership with Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation

New Program Coordinator Hired and Partnership with Essex County Sheriff Launching

GLOUCESTER — John Rosenthal, Co-founder and Chairman of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.), and Executive Director Allie Hunter McDade are pleased to announce the start of an exciting two-year project funded by a grant from the Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation.
Virtually all communities in Massachusetts and across the nation have been impacted by the rapidly growing heroin and opioid addiction epidemic. Essex County has been hit particularly hard, with drug overdose deaths rates higher than both state and national averages. Opioid overdose deaths have increased almost five-fold in Essex County since 2000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2012 to 2014, an average of 426 people died annually in Essex County due to drug overdoses, with projections for continuing increases indicated in 2015 and 2016. Essex County has a drug overdose mortality rate of 2 deaths per 10,000 residents, which is higher than both state and national averages.
The grant from the Lutz Foundation totals $185,000 in 2017 and a potential additional $135,000 in 2018, in the form of a challenge grant, which will dramatically increase P.A.A.R.I.’s work in Essex County. 
This grant will help P.A.A.R.I. bring on additional police departments in Essex County, while expanding its staff to assist these agencies, steer participants into recovery, train officers to use Narcan and overall assist law enforcement work with those suffering from addiction. Through this additional staff support and coordination, P.A.A.R.I. will work with law enforcement agencies to prevent opioid overdose deaths, engage more residents in effective treatment and recovery from substance use disorders, and improve hospital, police, and community collaborations.
The new P.A.A.R.I. outreach workers will receive training and initial supervision from leaders of the Gloucester Police Department Angel Program and Arlington Police Department Outreach Initiative. Applications are currently being accepted for these two positions. 
“The life-saving and game-changing work started by the Gloucester Police Department and P.A.A.R.I. less than two years ago has expanded like wildfire across the Commonwealth and Country. Families in Essex County have been hit particularly hard by the opioid and heroin epidemic and we are very proud to partner with the Lutz Foundation and Beverly Hospital to bring more vital resources in the fight against the disease of addiction right here at home,” Rosenthal said. “Like with every other chronic disease without a cure, there are only two options, long term treatment or death.”
Added Hunter McDade: “This project empowers P.A.A.R.I. and all of Essex County to make real changes today in how we fight the opioid epidemic. This grant allows us to increase our staff and provide direct benefits to police departments that are placing themselves at the front lines in the fight against opioid addiction.”
The Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation is a nonprofit organization engaged in supporting and encouraging medical research and continuing education in connection with Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals.
Dr. Suzanne Graves, President of the Lutz Foundation, initiated a request for proposals last summer to help encourage new thinking and new ideas for dealing with the escalating addiction crisis. “Addiction continues to impact so many families in our community,” Said Dr. Graves. “The problem is nearly out of control, but the creative solutions that P.A.A.R.I. is proposing will allow for improved care and support through this innovative collaboration with Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals.”
Graves added, “The Lutz Foundation is thrilled to have helped lead the way on this new initiative.”
P.A.A.R.I. Introduces Program Coordinator Victoria Kiarsis
P.A.A.R.I. is pleased to welcome Victoria Kiarsis as the newest member of the P.A.A.R.I. team. Victoria will serve as Program Coordinator as P.A.A.R.I. launches this exciting two-year project with the Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation. 
Victoria is a recent graduate from Emerson College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She has been personally involved in recovery for over three years and is incredibly passionate about helping others get the care they need. 
“P.A.A.R.I. blew me away when I first heard of it during the summer of 2015 and joining the team is truly a dream. I am so excited to start my professional career with such an amazing initiative that works to help the lives of people suffering with the disease of addiction,” Victoria shared.
In her role as Program Coordinator, Victoria will build relationships and manage communication with new and existing P.A.A.R.I. partners in Essex County, including law enforcement agencies, treatment providers, and community groups. She will also develop community resource kits, coordinate convenings and training sessions, track program data, and a variety of other tasks as P.A.A.R.I. embarks on this exciting new partnership.
“We are thrilled to have Victoria join our growing team to help launch this new project,” said Allie Hunter McDade, Executive Director. “Victoria will be central to the coordination and communication of this new project and we are pleased to have someone with such passion, determination, and shared life experience in the role.”
Victoria will be based in Gloucester at the P.A.A.R.I. office and can be reached at victoria@paariusa.org, or by calling her directly at (888) 9-PAARI-9 ex. 704.
P.A.A.R.I. Announces Essex County Sheriff’s Department as First Law Enforcement Project Partner
P.A.A.R.I. will work with 4-8 new law enforcement agencies in Essex County through the new project funded by the Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation. John Rosenthal, Co-founder and Chairman and Executive Director Allie Hunter McDade are pleased to announce that the Essex County Sheriff’s Department is the first law enforcement agency to become a project partner.
Former inmates are at extremely high risk for fatal overdose after release from prison, especially during the first two weeks. As such, P.A.A.R.I. will support the department’s rehabilitative, educational, and reentry programming to help individuals with substance use disorders make successful transitions back to the community.
“I am pleased to partner with The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) in their work battling the opioid crisis,” said Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger. “This epidemic affects every part of our society and every part of our society must be engaged in combatting it. P.A.A.R.I is an important weapon in this fight and I look forward to working with them in battling this scourge.”
Added Chief Ryan, who is also chair of the P.A.A.R.I. Police Council: “Adding a modern and progressive law enforcement agency with the history and track record of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department is the perfect way to kick off this major undertaking, as the mission of P.A.A.R.I. and its law enforcement partners continues to grow and rise to meet the challenge posed by opioids and the disease of addiction.”
Additional police departments and law enforcement agencies in Essex County are encouraged to reach out to Victoria Kiarsis, Program Coordinator, at victoria@paariusa.org if you would like to discuss being part of this project.

P.A.A.R.I. is pleased to welcome Victoria Kiarsis as the newest member of the P.A.A.R.I. team. Victoria will serve as Program Coordinator as P.A.A.R.I. launches this exciting two-year project with the Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation. (P.A.A.R.I. Courtesy Photo)

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