PRO-ACT offers two new services: the Family Education Program and the Mentor Plus Program.
In 1998, the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania (formerly the Bucks County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) established the Pennsylvania Recovery Organization - Achieving Community Together (PRO-ACT), a grassroots advocacy and recovery support initiative.
PRO-ACT works to reduce the stigma of addiction, ensure the availability of adequate treatment and recovery support services, and to influence public opinion and policy regarding the value of recovery.
Through PRO-ACT, the Council offers a multitude of services to the Recovery Community. Two of these services are the Family Education Program and the Mentor Plus Program.
Family Education Program
When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the disease affects the entire family. They need information and support and the Family Education Program is a place for them to turn. The program helps individuals and families recognize and address addiction problems in a spouse, parent, child or a loved one.
PRO-ACT launched its first Family Program in 2001 in Bucks County. The group has served over 4,000 families throughout the Delaware Valley and currently has nine locations.
Facilitated by trained volunteers who have been through the same situation, this information and education-support program gives the participants the tools they need to address addiction/recovery in the family constructively and begin their own process of healing and recovery.
The program, which is free, is a three-week one which covers:
- Understanding Addiction/Recovery
- Impact on Family
- Developing Your Next Steps
Recently, following the death of a 19-year-old woman of heroin overdose, the young woman's parents have lent her name to a free community education program aimed at shedding the stigma of drug addiction and battling heroin use. It is titled the Anna Straw Initiative and is being led by a parishioner of the church the Straw family attends.
The program is offered in four two-hour sessions and will be ongoing.
The focus will be on addiction as a disease and its recovery, family impact and rehabilitation, developing a support network and how and when to use Naloxone (to reverse the life-threatening effects of opiate overdose).
Mentor Plus Program
PRO-ACT's Mentor+ Program was developed in 1999 and was created by the recovering community of Bucks County, PA, to serve inmates in early recovery at the Bucks County Correctional Facility (BCCF).
Its purpose is to offer hope, advice, counsel and friendship to inmates who are incarcerated directly or indirectly for substance abuse-related crimes.
Working in pairs, the Mentors (trusted advisors) meet with the "Mentee" to assist them in making healthy decisions in the areas of housing, employment, transportation, parental issues, identification, health, substance abuse and other support programs and social activities.
Mentor pairs meet with each Mentee weekly while incarcerated to assist the Mentee in formulating a plan for the relevant areas of their lives, so upon release usually in about three months, the Mentee may increase the likelihood of success in Bucks County, and minimize the risk of re-incarceration.
Upon release from BCCF, the Mentor pair continues to work, usually weekly, with their Mentee, continuing to provide support and assistance while the Mentee begins to put his or her plan into action. Concurrently, all Mentors meet together as a group monthly to receive training in various related topics, such as legal assistance, in order to improve their utility to guiding the Mentees.
Mentees are given material that explains the Mentor+ Program, are screened and selected by trained staff at BCCF, and must be Bucks County residents or will be residing in Bucks County after their release. Being a Mentee does not affect the date of release from incarceration or count toward any court-imposed requirement – it is meant solely to assist the incarcerated person with the work he or she must do to meet self-set objectives.
Those interested in becoming a Mentor must be members of the recovering community, with a minimum of two (2) years of continuous sobriety, and cannot currently be on probation or parole with any criminal justice agency.
The Mentor+ Program also consists of an Advisory Board, comprised of a pool of experts in several relevant fields, such as judiciary, medical including mental health, legal, educational and employment. These volunteers provide knowledge and education to the Mentors to assist them in acquiring information for handling different areas of the Mentee's plan. The volunteers for the Advisory Board are not required to be a member of the recovering community.
For more information:
Beverly J. Haberle