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Partnership adds 5 VISTAs to battle opioids

MADISON – To assist in decreasing threats from the opioid crisis, Partnership for a Drug-Free Community has added five staff members with the AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America or VISTA program. 

The VISTA workers will boost working resources to address the opioid crisis for the next 12 months, spokesperson Wendy Reeves said.

New staff members for the partnership are Ashley Mahanna, Madison; Kelsia Smith, Huntsville; Silla Dixon, Huntsville; Jacqueline Carter, who recently relocated from Jackson, Miss. to Madison; and Brandy Wilkerson, a former resident of Savannah, Tenn. who moved to Huntsville.

The VISTAs’ orientation started Jan. 22 at the partnership office, located at the One Stop Shop for Community Services, 2201 Clinton Ave. W. in Huntsville. VISTA workers will focus on community outreach, volunteer recruitment, communications, program development and resource development.

“Each day for two weeks, they are meeting a variety of agency partners and receiving training about the issues in Madison County. On one afternoon, they heard about what’s happening on the streets locally from Huntsville and Madison police, as well as the Madison County Sheriff’s Office,” Reeves said.

“The VISTA members are dedicating themselves to help the agency build its capacity to strengthen its prevention and education efforts in the community,” Candice Dunaway said. Dunaway is executive director of Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, which serves Huntsville, Madison and Madison County

The Corporation for National and Community Service provided a grant to the partnership for this effort. More than 980,000 Americans have given more than 1.4 billion hours of service through AmeriCorps to help millions of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

“In recent years, funding issues have forced us to reduce staffing and hours,” Dunaway said. “At the same time, our community has been hard hit by the opioid crisis, and we need to do more.”

“We very thankful for this grant opportunity to add five amazing, highly qualified VISTA workers to help us build capacity and do a better job of serving our community,” Dunaway said.

Visit partnershipforadrug-freecommunity.org.  

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