A Community Foundation grant helped STEP Industries add a position for training its clients who are dealing with opiate addictions but, in the end, the organization may have learned the greatest lessons.
A $45,000 grant over three years from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership supported a new recovery coach position to help with the job retraining for the growing number of people attempting to recover from heroin and other opioid addictions. The Basic Needs Giving Partnership is funded by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs within the Community Foundation from the annual U.S. Venture Open golf outing, with additional money from the J. J. Keller Foundation and other community partners.
With the grant period now completed, STEP ended up with four certified recovery coaches and nine other staff members receiving training in related life coaching skills.
“One of the enlightening moments was realizing that the more we invested in our staff and furthering their education and experiences with different ways of thinking, the more we can serve our people,” Executive Director Michelle Devine-Giese said.
With the increased heroin use locally, the job training program is seeing a population that is younger and has less or maybe no work experience. The damage they’ve done to their brains also takes longer to mend, Devine-Giese said.
Add to that the sudden growth of crystal meth that the Fox Valley is seeing.
The trainers start with the basics of employment – the importance of being on the job on time, how to fill out paperwork and how to speak and dress appropriately for the workplace. Dealing with people with short-term memory loss, the trainers learn to be patient, repeat lessons learned and, when encountering bad behavior, figuring out what’s causing it and eliminating those barriers.
After the first job coach received this training, Device-Giese said, “We started to go, ‘You know, this wouldn’t be bad for some of our other staff.’”
On surveys of program participants, more than 95% said they feel better equipped to address problems appropriately and feel more confident in their sobriety. STEP also has seen an 8% improvement in its own manufacturing efficiency.
Other agencies have taken notice and have asked STEP to talk to them about the successes of this approach.
The recovery coach positions are continuing on after the three-year grant with support from United Way Fox Cities and the Green Bay Packers Foundation. STEP is trying to find additional funding.