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Elkhart County agency receives funding to support youth impacted by opioid crisis

NOW: Elkhart County agency receives funding to support youth impacted by opioid crisis

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. – Big Brothers Big Sisters in Elkhart County will receive federal money to fund training which will provide support to local youth and families touched by the opioid crisis.

The funding is a part of a $1.25 million grant distributed by the Indiana Youth Institute. Over the next three years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County will get $50,000 to $60,000.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a mentoring agency that matches youth with community volunteers.

The grant money will provide particular training and resources to volunteers and staff members who support children impacted by opioids and addiction.

The organization hopes this will be a preventative measure for opioid addiction in the county.

Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County Menessah Nelson says that training will be provided to volunteers and staff members who support children with multiple risk levels or adverse childhood experiences.

“Specifically to our community, we’re smaller, we’re small and mighty. We often don’t get those opportunities to be kind of zeroed in to have these specific training, and for us to have the grant and resources to be able to provide this just makes us stronger and allows us to bring partners in to really reach out and work together,” Nelson said.

Following the training and resources funded by the grant, opioids and addictions is a major risk level that volunteers and staff will be better equipped to handle.

Aubrea Mvalo is a Big Sister, but she also provides case management to the organization’s matches in the county.

She says that based on the case load, it is prevalent that children in the county are directly impacted by the opioid crisis

“Myself, just like a lot of our other volunteers, it’s rare that they do have a background in mental health and or substance abuse. And, I don’t have that background per say. So I’m excited to be able to um kind of learn about the preventative measures and kind of what are red flags to address it before it would become an issue,” Mvalo explained.

In 2018, BBBS served 124 matches in Elkhart County.

Because the organization works with youth, parents, and volunteers, the training funding by the grant can potentially reach over 300 people.  

The money is set to come in this month and training will soon follow at the beginning of September.

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