Waldo County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) will participate in a grant-funded program beginning in March to train “recovery coaches” who will strengthen substance abuse recovery support services.

Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center (MCRRC), managed by WCSO, will work with Healthy Acadia of Ellsworth to form a Waldo County arm of the Maine RecoveryCorps, which will be funded by an AmeriCorps grant.

MCRRC is a residential facility in Belfast for incarcerated men preparing to transition back into society. The center, which operates in partnership with Volunteers of America (VOA) and the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, provides treatment services, education and vocational training with the aim of preventing recidivism.

According to Sonia Turanski, Maine RecoveryCorps program manager for Healthy Acadia, the total AmeriCorps grant award of $283,768 is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Healthy Acadia will administer the program in partnership with WCSO and the reentry center, as well as VOA. The grant and additional matching funding from partner organizations will be used to train and support 30 AmeriCorps members in the state with stipends, health insurance, mileage, and other expenses.

RecoveryCorps coaches will work with both men and women who are returning to Waldo County from Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, according to the sheriff’s office. Coaches selected for the corps, who will serve as mentors and assist participants in reaching their recovery goals, are likely to include people who experienced substance use disorder and recovery personally or through a close connection such as a family member.

Turanski said training will be conducted at the Waldo County Emergency Management Agency building in Belfast from March 12 to 15. Healthy Acadia program managers Denise Black and Terri Woodruff will serve as instructors for the coaches using techniques developed by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery.

Program administrators plan to hire full-time corps members who will receive a living allowance of more than $13,000 and an AmeriCorps education award of nearly $6,000 to help pay for college or other expenses. Part-time corps members will earn a $1,000 stipend and more than $1,200 as an education award. The service terms will begin in September and October, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The Maine RecoveryCorps program fills an important gap in local recovery efforts by providing a free peer-to-peer support service to those struggling to overcome addiction,” Turanski said, adding that recovery challenges include acquiring sufficient clothing, food, shelter, transportation, and access to services and local recovery communities. “RecoveryCorps members serve as mentors and role models, providing individual support to the recoverees in their efforts to overcome these barriers.”

WCSO Chief Deputy Jason Trundy said his department has partnered with numerous organizations over time to address substance abuse in Waldo County. “We view the addition of recovery coaches to our efforts as the next step in reaching out into the community to connect with those suffering from addiction. The recovery coaches will be a valuable resource and support to those engaged in or seeking recovery,” Trundy said.

Restorative Justice Acting Director Carrie Sullivan lauded the VOA and the sheriff’s office for partnering to make the RecoveryCorps coaches program possible for Waldo County. “For Restorative Justice, we are members because we don’t want to see people become engaged in the criminal justice system due to substance and mental health issues,” Sullivan said.