FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2020 - The Golden LEAF Foundation awarded $423,459 to Wilkes Recovery Revolution, INC. (WRR) to support the organization’s new program, Healing Our Workforce. WRR will use the funding to provide peer support and education and employment opportunities to those who are seeking recovery from substance abuse disorders.
“Golden LEAF is proud to support Wilkes Recovery, Inc. in providing employment opportunities to those who are seeking recovery from substance abuse disorders,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer. “This initiative will help build the skilled workforce to meet the needs of employers needing to fill quality and sustainable jobs.”
Personnel, supportive services, equipment and administration to connect individuals seeking recovery from substance-use disorders to employment by providing clients with supportive services and training and certifications in manufacturing and industrial maintenance skills, nurse aide I, and skilled trades in construction.
Through Healing Our Workforce, North Carolina certified peer support specialists called Peer Navigators will support WRR clients in their journey to once again become members of the local workforce. In addition to the hiring of these navigators, the grant provided by Golden LEAF over the next two years will also fund certification courses in manufacturing, industrial maintenance, nursing, construction work, and other skilled trades that will lead to employment in the local economy.
“I want to thank the Golden LEAF Foundation for helping us provide a second chance to those in recovery while helping to boost the local economy by investing in our workforce,” said Devin Lyall, WRR’s Executive Director.
The new program, Healing Our Workforce, came about following the work of Blue Cross Blue Shield, the UNC School of Government and The Health Foundation in Wilkes to create COPE, a community opioid prevention and education team, and from Lyall’s participation on the Substance Abuse Advisory Council of the Appalachian Regional Commission. Their recommendations highlighted the need for greater investment in workforce development particularly for those dealing with substance abuse disorders.
“We know that individuals want to work but we must make sure they receive the guidance and support they need to find meaningful employment,” said Lyall.
WRR will partner with other agencies including Wilkes Community College and NC Works to provide the skills training program funded by Golden LEAF. Once a needs assessment is completed, the peer navigators will make direct referrals so that their clients can get the education they need for job placement.
WRR will also partner with the Wilkes Public Health Dental Clinic and with other organizations in the county to address visual, dental and other impairments that might serve as barriers to employment. And through the program WRR will be doing outreach to dozens of local businesses to create a recovery friendly environment, including distributing window stickers to show that these businesses understand and support those who are in recovery.
Since 2016, WRR has worked to advance substance misuse recovery-based services in the county. Their mission is to create an ecosystem in the county where recovery is made possible by “restoring hope, repairing lives and rebuilding community.”
Lyall said, “We would like to also say thank you to our community, donors, and partners for your continued support. We know complex problems are never solved alone.”
The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding received from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. For 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation. The Foundation has provided lasting impact to tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural areas of the state by helping create 65,000 jobs, over half a billion dollars in new payrolls and more than 84,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages.