Collaboration of the Year: Reliance Health and Norwich Police
Each year, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut presents the Eastern Connecticut Social Service Awards, recognizing agency staff and volunteers who have gone above and beyond in their duties, as nominated by industry peers. At the 12th Annual Social Service Recognition Breakfast, we honored Reliance Health and the Norwich Police Department as Collaboration of the Year.
This unique collaboration between Reliance Health’s recovery coach program and Norwich PD began as a response to the increase in opioid cases in southeastern Connecticut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although nontraditional in approach, recovery coaches and PD have been able to provide guidance and resources to those handling addiction.
“I am a firm believer of the smallest gesture can change someone’s whole life,” says Autumn Bouchard, a recovery coach that has worked closely on this program. “No one is immune to life’s hardships. Everyone is fighting a battle silently that others may know nothing about. Social Service plays an essential part in this, especially peer support services.” Bouchard uses her personal and professional experiences to support others through recovery.
Recovery coach Deanna Delaney feels strongly that social distancing played a key part in the spike of opioid cases. “Isolation has become common place among all of us to some extent. The overdoses have gone up and people have felt disconnected.” Working alongside Norwich PD, physical and virtual meetings were able to resume for overdose survivors.
Delaney adds that the cornerstone to this program’s success is its personal touch; “…the importance of one addict helping another is unparalleled. Those struggling with substance use are almost always more likely to open up to someone they believe understands their struggle on a personal level.”
A team of talented and dedicated individuals are to thank for this collaborative program, some including; Reliance Health recovery coaches Autumn Bouchard and Deanna Delaney, Mike Doyle of Reliance Health, Leeann Gomes of Norwich Human Services, Valerie Moore of Adult Probation, and Sgt. Nick Rankin and Officer Bob McKinney of Norwich Police Department.