Recovery Day Journals – 2019 – Women’s Hope

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Excerpts from the Journals of Women’s Hope Clients after attending the 2019 Recovery Day Celebration in Boston on Monday, September 16.

“I was really impressed with sobriety is in this city.” – Anonymous

“It was a good experience for me then the mayor spoke. I didn’t know he was an addict. That showed me that I’m not the only one.” – Vanessa

“I got to hear messages from staff, peers, the mayor. Wow! I never experienced so many inspirational and motivating people in one place. Thank god I was here for that.” – Anonymous

“It was my first time ever going to something like this & we got to see the mayor speak, which was amazing!” – Ashley

“We see what we see. We feel what we feel. Sometimes we never know what is real. We lose our freedom. With no place to roam. When all we really need is the place called home.” – Anonymous

“I had an amazing time, it felt good to enjoy this time sober.” – Tiffany

“It had me think, if they can do it, I can do it.” – Anonymous

If you would like to support our recovery services or any of our work with people who use drugs, people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses, or individuals and families facing homelessness, please click here.

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A Little Haven in the Middle of Urban Life

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Guest Blog by Hattie Grant, a young volunteer at ReVision Urban Farm

I live in the city but love the outdoors. I spend my summers far away from Boston in the wilderness, working with my hands and getting dirty and that’s where I feel the happiest. So when I discovered an opportunity to work on a farm in Boston, I jumped at it.

Before arriving at Revision Urban Farm, I knew very little about it except that it was an urban farm and it was a part of Victory Programs. When I got to the farm, I was blown away.

My first impression was merely based on its aesthetic beauty. It endeared me to its charm immediately. I loved the perfect rows of green plants and the way that each little patch of dirt teemed with leaves of all different colors and vibrant flowers. The entire place was a little haven in the middle of urban life.

My love for the farm grew stronger when I learned about its mission to provide fresh vegetables to low-income families whose access to affordable, healthy, locally-grown food is limited. The farm sells chard, tomatoes, onions, peppers, lettuces, and more at reasonable prices at local markets.

Working with Todd and Conor throughout the week was amazing. The experience of taking and adding to the land was extremely cathartic, not to mention hard work. One day, it took me around three hours to weed one row of carrots! However, each hour I spent on the farm was rewarded with new growth and delicious vegetables.

The food had such a rich and nutritious taste, I had never eaten food so fresh and straight from the source. Literally, I picked some husk cherry tomatoes from the dirt with my own hands before plopping them into my mouth.

My admiration for Todd and Conor grew as I realized how much they did every day. Their passion and interest in the crops they were growing were contagious and soon I found myself researching various types of tomatoes and making plans for the weeks to come when I hoped to visit again.

After two weeks on the farm, I fell head over heels for it. I loved the vegetables, I loved working on a farm with amazing people, and I especially loved feeling like what I was doing could help someone get a healthy snack. I feel incredibly lucky to have found this haven of leaves, roots, and flowers on the streets of Dorchester, and I hope to return to Revision Urban Farm as soon as I can!

If you are interested in volunteering at ReVision Urban Farm, please call Victory Programs’ Volunteer Coordinator, Tammy Blocker, at 617-236-1012 x227 or email tblocker@vpi.org.

If you would like to make a financial gift to support the farm, please visit: https://give.vpi.org/grow to help us grow!

Support from our generous volunteers and donors is essential to continuing our mission to provide fresh, nutritionally dense, affordable produce to our community. 

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International Overdose Awareness Day, August 31, 2019

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Drugs take beautiful people out of the world. It’s the friend. The lover. The son. The mother. The favorite aunt. The boy next door. The class clown. The first crush. Drugs take beautiful people out of the world. First they are gone. Missing from work. From school. From family dinners and social gatherings. Then they are gone. They leave a hole shaped like memory. Full of laughter and heartbreak. Complicated. Precious. Tender. Lonely. | - International Overdose Awareness Day, August 31, 2019 | 965 Massachusetts Avenue | 617-541-0222 | www.vpi.org | Victory Programs Logo | Background Image: black and white high contrast portrait from the shoulders up of an individual whose race and gender are not determinable against a black background. The portrait is blurry, as through seen through textured glass. The person is looking up and away, with right half of their face hidden in darkness.Opioid-related overdose deaths are down 11% in Massachusetts for the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period last year. At 611 confirmed deaths, with 292 to 363 additional deaths estimated, the number is still tragically high.

The decrease in fatalities is largely attributed to increased distribution of the overdose reversal drug known as naloxone, or Narcan, a highly-effective intervention responsible for rescuing 4,079 individuals from opioid-related overdoses in 2018, with 3,628 of the reported rescues performed by people who use drugs.

Community distribution of naloxone to people who use drugs and people who are likely to witness an overdose has a proven track record of reducing preventable opioid-related overdose deaths. Naloxone, which is safe enough to use on an infant, has no side effects, and no potential for abuse, is available to any Massachusetts resident from most pharmacies through their insurance. Individuals who are likely to experience or witness an overdose may also obtain free naloxone and training on how to respond to an overdose from organizations participating in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) program, like the Victory Programs’ Mobile Prevention Team.

Opioid-related overdose death isn’t the only challenge facing people who use drugs, however. Individuals in active use, particularly those who inject drugs, also face increased risk of contracting infectious diseases and other health complications. While naloxone is the most effective tool for preventing opioid-related overdose deaths, other methods of harm reduction like risk reduction kits, needle exchanges, and routine testing can lower the rate at which infectious diseases are spread through injection drug use.

In addition to overdose education and naloxone distribution, Victory Programs’ Mobile Prevention Team offers the following services to the community:

Every opioid-related overdose death is tragic. Most could be prevented by effective, timely intervention with naloxone and/or emergency medical care. Stigma against people who use drugs continues to present a challenge to reaching those at-risk of experiencing an overdose and although overall fatalities are trending downward opioid-related overdose deaths have become the leading cause of workplace fatalities according to a special study conducted by the Occupational Health Surveillance Program in 2018.

Drugs take beautiful people out of the world, but it doesn’t have to be the case. Providing safe, effective, evidence-based interventions to more members of our community, particularly those likely to witness an overdose, has a significant impact on reducing drug-related fatalities by giving people who use drugs and the friends and family who love them better tools to reduce risk and maintain their health and wellness.

You can learn more about Victory Programs’ Mobile Prevention Team and services here.

If you would like to support our prevention work or any of our other services for individuals and families facing the challenges of homelessness, substance use disorder, chronic illness, or infectious diseases like HIV, Hepatitis C, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, please click here to make a gift to support any of our programs or “where needed most.”

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Phaedra’s Story

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

From Fear to Determination and Hope

“Right and wrong choices are like twins, they are always together, they speak their own secret language, and confusingly, to people like me, they often look the same.”

Late in 2019, Phaedra realized she needed to learn to differentiate between right and wrong choices. She was tired of living in fear, running from everything she had done to fill needs she didn’t fully understand. For so much of her life, Phaedra had turned to substances and toxic relationships to quiet her unmet needs. She felt like the walls were closing in on her, and she knew she needed help to make a meaningful change.

Phaedra found the support she was looking for at Victory Programs’ New Joelyn’s Home. “What I’m doing right now is working with great counselors,” she shares. “I’m learning to practice patience.” For Phaedra, learning patience gives her the space to think about her choices. She says taking the time to really think through her choices and consider the impact they might have on her future makes it easier to tell those right and wrong choices apart.

“I was choosing from a place of suffering,” she says. “At the time, so many obviously terrible choices seemed like the only choice.” She’s grateful for the support she receives from both staff and other clients at New Joelyn’s Home for helping her develop the tools to forgive herself for her past and think about what she needs to build a brighter future.

“I’m using all of the tools that I’ve learned here to cope with life and to handle life as it comes at me,” she explains. “Life is always going to be life and the tools that I have gained here have given me that strength.”

See Phaedra’s Story in her own words by watching the video below.

 

 

You can support recovery clients, like Phaedra, by supporting Victory Programs. Please click here to learn more.

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Concern for Our Neighbors

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

The following went out to our supporters on August 9, 2019:

If you’ve spent any time near Victory Programs’ administrative building at 965 Massachusetts Avenue, you’ve inevitably seen some of our neighbors. The intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard offers a glimpse into the immense need many of our community members face while trying to manage the challenges of homelessness and addiction.
Anyone who passes through the Mass/Cass intersection on their way into our neighborhood inevitably asks “what is the answer? what should we do?”

To say that it is a complicated, slow, painstaking process feels cliché, but it is very true. This neighborhood is rich with low-threshold services, which is why it is an attractive place for people with nowhere else to go to congregate. There is daily outreach happening alongside an increasingly active police presence. Despite this, there are still large groups of people in a desperate situation with massive, ever-growing, needs.

Things that do or could help: more shelter options, diverse types of housing, harm reduction services, short-term navigation, medication-assisted treatment, safe consumption sites, and more. With individuals as vulnerable as our neighbors, we’ve learned that people have the best chance of success when they have immediate access to services at the exact moment they first consider seeking support. Access to the right service, at the right moment, can save a life and restore dignity and respect.

In addition to the front-page story about recent events in our neighborhood in today’s issue of Boston Globe, we encourage you to read the opinion section from the same paper which features an opinion piece penned by State Senators Cindy F. Friedman and Jeffery N. Roy on the hope represented by safe consumption sites, and another piece by Dr. Jon Santiago, a state representative, on the need for a comprehensive response to address the challenges vulnerable individuals face.

If you have been monitoring the situation and wondering what to do. Please consider contacting your legislators and/or writing a letter-to-the-editor in response to any of the news articles linked above.

The individuals congregating in this area are our neighbors. They are the people who come through our doors asking for services and support when they are ready to seek help. Victory Programs, despite the complicated and heartbreaking nature of the situation, continues to daily find ways to meeting individuals where they are with compassion, evidence-based care, and opportunity.

Sarah Porter, Intermin CEO
Victory Programs

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