This is Change
With Greg Kennedy
I love how VOA Oregon is a part of this community and willing to be a part of solutions to the issues we face. One of the biggest issues we see is a need for treatment resources for a variety of populations. At VOA Oregon we are experts on substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health treatment. We look at each person individually and develop treatment plans.
We see people enter the criminal justice system because of various crimes. In the past they have just been shuttled through the prison system. When we look at the underlying causes and conditions for people in this situation, most stem from trauma, mental health, and houselessness. If these causes aren’t addressed or people don’t get support, the probability of returning to the criminal justice system is high.
At VOA Oregon, we play a part in working to break that cycle. We help our clients to make different decisions and show them where their life can look different. By providing recovery tools, housing, assistance with mental health issues and trauma, and working together to break down barriers, our clients can live a different life.
Most people coming into our program with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health issue. Trauma is often the gateway to a lot of folk’s substance use. It is important to know that people can change. They are not necessarily defined by their past or the crimes they have committed. There is hope.
When the announcement came that we were no longer allowed to go to work in person due to COVID-19, we had to look at how we were going to continue to serve our clients. We couldn’t stop providing treatment, so we had to figure out how to adapt. Our team came together and, with some resiliency and creativity, figured out how we were going to provide services in a pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, our commitment to providing treatment services has stayed intact. Recovery, especially in the beginning, is difficult in the best of situations. To add the pandemic on top of it gave our clients many reasons to relapse, but there were a lot of people who didn’t. I am impressed at the level of commitment, dedication, and passion that the staff at VOA Oregon bring to do this work.
Every day I am energized knowing that what I am doing makes a difference. I am part of a team of people who are passionate about working with and supporting those whose lives have gone in a direction they didn’t expect. We have people who have had their lives turned around since entering the program. We see people come in broken and with nothing and within a period of one to three years they are in recovery, have their families back, have good jobs, and are happy, productive members of society. That is why I do this work.