$2.6 million grant boosts Goodwill Northern New England’s Workforce Solutions

Free job services available to Mainers affected by opioid

Wed, 12/23/2020 - 3:45pm

Hundreds of people affected by the opioid crisis in Maine are beginning to receive much-needed help through a $2.6 million grant from the United States Department of Labor. Hoping to help more people this winter, Workforce Solutions is seeking more participants for these free job services, according to Goodwill Northern New England, in a news release. 

“The opioid crisis has had severe impacts on workers nationally and Maine is no exception,” said Antoinette Mancusi, executive director of Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. “Opioid abuse affects both employed and unemployed individuals – we know the effects of addiction are widespread. This grant will help support both people who have used opioids directly and family members.

Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc., is the workforce board that is overseeing and managing the grant for the coastal counties region of Maine.

“Addiction affects a whole community’s stability, and we’re addressing that one person at a time by empowering people through job development opportunities paired with wrap around supports,” she said.  

Workforce Solutions (operated by Goodwill Northern New England) hired 12 Career Advisors and Life Navigators to help people affected by the opioid epidemic address barriers to employment and life stability and connect to training and employment opportunities. Key referral partners include Cumberland County Jail, Maine Pre-Trial, and Region I Adult Community Corrections and the local recovery community. 

Workforce Solutions is also hiring Peer Navigators to outreach to their peers in recovery, and connect them to the Career Advisors and Life Navigators. Part of the grant will also be used to train unemployed people in fields that support opioid recovery, which will likely have state-wide benefits.

“People in recovery can have an especially difficult time finding good careers,” said Rick Horton, a Life Navigator specializing in supporting people with addiction backgrounds. “Addiction can often lead to involvement with the justice system, mental health challenges, housing instability, discrimination and stigma – all of which becomes a barrier to work. It’s also hard for some people with a history of addiction to get good recommendations or show a stable work history because of their addiction. This program helps clients build an individualized plan and get their lives back on track.”   

The opioid-focused work will use Goodwill’s Job Connection model, which offers holistic, wrap-around supports to each participant. Each participant will be paired with both a Career Advisor and a Life Navigator. The Career Advisor helps with job skills, training supports, resume and interview skills, and ultimately job placements. The Life Navigator is a social worker type role, helping with any situation that might get in the way of long-term employment including housing, childcare, addiction issues, health, transportation and more.  

“Often people need more than just job help to get and keep a great career,” said David Wurm, senior director of Workforce Services at Goodwill. “It’s all of the other things in life that can get in the way – mental health, substance use, unstable living conditions and more. When we pair the best practices of both workforce development and social work, we find people do better in the long-term.”    

The coastal counties region will serve 360 participants with this grant. To be eligible individuals must have been impacted by the opioid crisis in some way or be unemployed and interested in a career to help combat the opioid crisis.

Workforce Solutions can assist people in Maine’s six coastal counties – Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo and York. If you or someone you know needs this help, visit workforcesolutionsme.org or call 207-930-7047 or email sarah.overlock@workforcesolutionsme.org 

The USDOL awarded the two-year National Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant to Maine Department of Labor, in partnership with Maine’s three local workforce boards. Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. (CCWI) is overseeing and managing the grant for the coastal counties region of Maine. Their service provider, Workforce Solutions (operated by Goodwill NNE) will perform the work.