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United Way awards grants to health department, Nazareth Child and Family Connection

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Rowan County United Way last week awarded more grants from its COVID-19 Relief Fund that will go toward opioid abuse treatment and training new foster families.

Among the grants, the Rowan Health Department was awarded with $10,000 to help the county’s Post-Overdose Response Team, or PORT, purchase more medication designed to reverse opioid overdoses.

Amid the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the amount of substance use and an increase in the number of reported overdoses, according to the health department. These can be attributed to stay-at-home orders that have been implemented, which can create barriers for receiving treatment.

One way PORT is working to mitigate overdoses in the community is by providing families and individuals with Narcan kits. The medication Narcan is a drug overdose reversal, and kits include education on the medicine, gloves and a CPR kit. The grant from United Way will help the health department purchase more Narcan, which will in turn “save many lives and provide an opportunity for treatment for individuals that would otherwise not be alive,” said United Way Executive Director Jenny Lee.

Rowan County Public Health Director Nina Oliver said the donation “means everything to us.” The health department is running out of funding for the Narcan kits. Currently, only abut 60 doses remain for the rest of the year. In June alone, Oliver said, PORT distributed more than 100 doses of Narcan to the community.

She said there’s too much stigma still attached to the use of Narcan, specifically that the drug enables opioid addiction. And Oliver has personal experience with addiction, as she lost her sister to addiction and her brother is a recovered addict. She said sometimes it takes many times for someone to get better, as it did for her brother, but Narcan can be essential. It helps people stay alive en route to getting better.

One of the health department’s goals for the county is to address opioid abuse, according to the 2019 State of the County Health report.

Another grant in the amount of $2,456 was awarded to Nazareth Child and Family Connection. The grant will help the organization support 24 new foster families to help them complete their licensing applications virtually due to in-person meeting restrictions amid the pandemic.

Nazareth Director of Development Blair Wilson said there’s a significant need to pair children with good, stable homes; that need doesn’t stop because of a pandemic. The licensing period takes 10 weeks, but the organization has been limited in its resources to allow virtual training.

The grant has “taken a burden off our agency,” Wilson said, to be able to provide a service to local children, which means there won’t be a “lull or child in need” who can’t be placed with a family, she said.

To date, the United Way has distributed $101,140 to the community from its COVID-19 Relief Fund and has raised $235,463. Recent donations include:

  • $200 from Edward and Susan Norvell
  • $350 from Godley’s Garden Center
  • $100 from Calvin Safrit
  • $200 from Dorothy Loftin
  • $50 from Margaret Stridick
  • $150 from an anonymous donor

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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