BY BROOKE WILLIAMS
The Wyoming County Hope Coalition plans to continue spreading its message to maintain hope amid a widespread epidemic of substance use disorder.
Since 2018, the coalition has brought together local stakeholders, including medical providers, law enforcement, county officials and individuals in recovery with the goal of combating the epidemic in Wyoming County.
The Hope Coalition met earlier this month at the Dietrich Theater to discuss progress on its 2020 goals. Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency Director Gene Dziak led the meeting, as Wyoming County Director of Human Services Michael Donahue was absent.
Dziak thanked everyone for coming and reminded them that the coalition has made great strides thus far.
“A lot is coming out of it,” he said. “It’s really good for Wyoming County.”
Before breaking off into individual subcommittee meetings, the Hope Coalition also heard from Ryan Hogan, who recently replaced Steve Ross as director of the Luzerne/Wyoming Counties Drug and Alcohol Program.
Hogan acknowledged that Wyoming County has not always been as in the loop with the program as Luzerne County and said he wants this to change under his leadership.
“I look forward to bringing Luzerne and Wyoming County closer together,” he said.
When the groups reconvened, coalition member Barb Landon shared plans for the prevention and community awareness subcommittee.
The coalition will hold a panel discussion open to the public under the theme “Community to Hope” with resource tables and wellness baskets for door prizes.
The panel will focus on substance use disorder and its impact on different populations in Wyoming County, as well as keeping hope alive, with an official list of speakers to be announced.
The Hope Coalition originally scheduled the evening panel discussion for May 19 at the Dietrich Theater, but has postponed it due to concerns with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The new date is to be announced.
Landon hopes the coalition could use these opportunities as a springboard for other educational events.
The subcommittee has been working on getting the winning submission from last year’s poster contest posted on a local billboard, and Landon said it would be great to hold another contest this fall in time for National Recovery Month in September.
The Hope Coalition has scheduled another recovery celebration for Sept. 19, which the prevention subcommittee has already started helping to plan.
Wyoming County Commissioner Tom Henry announced plans for the treatment subcommittee.
The subcommittee has been discussing the need for medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, in Wyoming County.
Henry later explained that there was originally a goal to have a system for MAT in place by May of 2020, but there have been roadblocks along the way. So far, there have been no decisions made on a provider or location, though options have been explored, he said.
Henry also assured that this system would only treat Wyoming County residents.
The subcommittee also discussed creating a website and a Facebook page for the Hope Coalition.
Ryan Taylor, volunteer and projects coordinator for Trehab Community Resource Center in Tunkhannock, spoke on behalf of the recovery subcommittee.
Taylor said his subcommittee could work on finding guest speakers for the Sept. 19 event.
Landon encouraged replicating last year’s success with having speakers in various stages of recovery, which was “powerful.”
“We need to focus on the hope that there is life after drugs or alcohol,” she said.
Members also discussed setting up a Facebook page for the Hope Coalition, with a representative from each area as an editor who could post news on behalf of their subcommittee.
Taylor said the recovery subcommittee has also been looking into planning a dance for people in recovery, with details to be determined.
The Hope Coalition is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, May 14 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Dietrich Theater.
“This coalition is going well and it’s only because of the support we have in this room,” Dziak said.