Partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative’s Overdose Response Network, the City of Jersey City is seeking the services of 20 faith leaders to help combat drug addiction.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Utilizing community-based and evidence-informed approaches, the Empowering Faith Leaders Program will directly engage and train community leaders across Jersey City’s diverse range of practiced religions to build the skills and tools to deploy ground-level actions into substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Applications will be available beginning November 2nd to fill the 20 available spots.
“As the most diverse municipality in the state, we want to empower our extensive network of faith leaders who are the critical lifelines and trusted advisors that people turn to for guidance during hardship, such as drug and alcohol addiction,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
“By leveraging our community resources, we are creating an impactful program in partnership with The Clinton Foundation that will help residents live healthier and more productive lives.”
Jersey City is one of three new communities selected for this program with funding through the Clinton Foundation.
Under the program, participants will learn about local prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction resources. The partnership will also implement community-based engagement projects to raise awareness about addiction and the overdose crisis.
“Faith leaders play an important role in turning the tide on the overdose crisis that has reached unprecedented levels in this country,” began Senior Director of Substance Use Disorders and Recovery at CGI’s Overdose Response Network Megan Affrunti.
“Many people turn to their faith leaders during times of crisis for guidance and hope, and when they are prepared to provide effective support, they can save lives. We know that many faith leaders aren’t taught how to respond to these issues in seminary, and our program fills this gap by training and mobilizing them to address these issues with evidence-informed and compassionate approaches.”
The Empowering Faith Leaders Program in Jersey City will build community leaders’ knowledge, skills, and confidence to address addiction and the overdose crisis.
Beginning in January 2024, leaders from Jersey City’s Department of Health and Human Services and CGI will lead a cohort of 20 faith leaders through in-person sessions on a range of topics related to substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery over six to eight months.
Each faith-based organization involved in the program will receive $2,000 in funding from CGI’s Overdose Response Network, along with the technical support to plan and execute a community-based engagement project to bring the information and resources back to their community.
Faith leaders receive education and training on a wide range of topics related to addiction, becoming trainers in naloxone administration, learning how to combat stigma, and connecting with local service providers.
“We have more than doubled our services over the past three years to meet the skyrocketing demand for mental health and addiction services amid COVID, and this Empowerment Program is an important next step in our continued progress in building bridges across communities to more directly address our residents’ wide range of issues and needs,” added Health and Human Services Director Stacey Flanagan.
“This program will explore how different faith traditions view substance use, addiction, and recovery to build bridges across communities.”
Chaplains interested in the Empowering Faith Leaders Program can reach out to HHS directly by emailing Jessica Garita at JGarita@jcnj.org.