A large crowd of community organizations and elected officials gathered at the Mental Health Association Tuesday to celebrate the award of a $500,000 grant that will help people in recovery return to the workforce.
MHA Executive Director Steven Cobb said the two-year federal grant is coming from the Appalachian Regional Commission‘s INSPIRE (Investments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems) Initiative, “The purpose of that is to develop a recovery ecosystem that supports people in recovery as they return to the workforce, to remove barriers, to provide opportunities for education, and to provide assistance where wrap-around-services don’t traditionally supply assistance.”
Cobb said the grant will enable them to work with businesses to help them develop tools to support employees in recovery as well as helping employees who have family members who are have substance use issues.
He said the program will be implemented across Chautauqua County.
Cobb said St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will be a facet of the grant through the collaboration with MHA on the social-enterprise program, St. Bernard’s Blessed dog biscuits. He said that program will be used as a classroom, “For folks in our community who might need some support in developing skills to go back to work, communications skills, skills insofar as showing up to work, being on time. And we will use the making of these biscuits, the marketing of the biscuits, the packaging, the selling as a classroom to teach people skills that they can take and then go back to work.”
Cobb said another facet of the grant will allow MHA to go into the Chautauqua County Jail to work with inmates transitioning out in order to shorten the gap between their release and going back to work.
He said MHA and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church are each matching the $500,000 grant with $250,000 of in-kind services for a total program value of $1 million.
MHA was the only ARC INSPIRE grant recipient in New York State this year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As a point of transparency and disclosure to our audience, MHA in Chautauqua County is a corporate underwriter for WRFA and has provided a financial contribution for the general operations of the station within the past year. Funding we receive for General Operations is not used to fund our coverage of local news in the community. That is only made possible through a Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.