By Cheryl Conway
Where there is a will, there is a way, the familiar saying goes, and with hope, anything is possible. Especially with two vehicles making appearances throughout Morris County bringing services to the
people, from treating individuals with drug addiction to providing outreach in a wide range of areas such as homelessness, unemployment, aging, child care and veterans’ services. Hope One vehicle has been in motion for the past year; joining the tandem this fall will be a second vehicle, Navigating Hope.
“The impact of the Morris County Sheriff’s Hope One program on the addiction and mental health communities of Morris County has been tremendous!” says Jennifer Carpinteri, director of Human Services for Morris County since Oct. 2014. “It is now time to offer a broader range of services to expand upon those currently offered by Hope One, the county’s Department of Human Services and the Morris
County Community Provider Network.
While the specific details of the Navigating Hope vehicle are still being finalized, Carpinteri says “the outreach vehicle will provide a comfortable, confidential way to deliver services and connect with
individuals who have had difficulty navigating and accessing services through the traditional means of provision. Use of mobile technology will be an important component to this work, as it provides for the
greatest access to resources.
“All human service related resources will be made available to provide on-site services as scheduled or requested by a municipality, business, school or provider,” she adds.
“Navigating Hope, the mobile community assistance access center, will travel to different locations throughout Morris County, bringing services out into communities to help residents identify their short-
term needs and provide additional case management supports necessary to navigate the complex systems of care to achieve long-term sustained well-being,” she explains.
Areas that will be addressed include: homeless service & affordable housing; employment services; emergency shelter; aging service; veterans services; Medicaid; food stamps; child support; transportation; and linkages to The Family Justice Center/Domestic Violence Needs, educational services, literacy/ESL classes, health screenings, HIV/AIDS services, legal services, faith based supports and numerous other critical resources identified on an individualized basis.
Cost of the new vehicle is about $100K. The Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders has approved funding to support the Navigating Hope Initiative within the 2018 Operating Budget.
The Hope One vehicle is funded and maintained by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, she adds. “While these are two separately funded vehicles, they represent the strong partnership between the county Department of Human Services and the sheriff’s office in reaching our most vulnerable residents by breaking down barriers and bringing hope into each municipality,” she says. Professionals will be on site in each vehicle and visit. “The Navigating Hope vehicle will be staffed by a specialized Human Service team of professionals,” she says. “The positions that will comprise the team, through on-site and via skype capabilities are: Morris Care Navigator; OTA Generic Interviewer; OTA Social Worker; veterans’ staff; aging staff; and child
In addition, “Development of a volunteer component will be a goal during the first year of operation,” she adds. Navigating Hope is targeted “to serve thousands of residents per year. The expanded array of services offered will ultimately draw additional people and reach the most vulnerable, hard to serve residents.” The county has always offered these services, but some residents either do not know they exist or choose not to utilize them.
“These are not new services, rather a new way of delivering them,” says Carpinteri. “We expect to reach people who are hesitant to reach out to the county for help.” The county is hoping to launch Navigating Hope this fall. It will travel in tandem as well as separately
from Hope One, with plans to visit all 39 municipalities, says Carpinteri.
“The autonomy of Navigating Hope allows us to utilize it as a mobile outstation model for residents seeking short term and long term benefits, reaching all municipalities in the county when not supporting the work of Hope One,” she explains. “Two vehicles provides more capacity to bring an array of services into the community and reach more people.
“This program has the potential to serve thousands of residents per year,” and if it follows in Hope One’s path, progress is likely.
“The success of the sheriff’s one-of-a-kind idea that came to life just a year ago is now looked as a statewide model!” she says about Hope One’s first year. “With the growing addiction epidemic
nationwide, and especially here in Morris County, partnerships and collaborations are now the future of combatting addiction and saving lives. The opportunity for our Department of Human Services to work
in concert with law enforcement is a welcome paradigm shift on both sides. I am humbled to be a small part of the program!” She has high hopes for Navigating Hope as well.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to better connect and serve Morris County residents,” she says. “Many of whom are our most vulnerable and hard to serve! Like Hope One, Navigating Hope also
will be a mobile community assistance outreach program. It is my sincere belief that soon, both Hope One and Navigating Hope will be symbols of recovery, inclusion and a pathway to a better tomorrow!’
To know in advance when these vehicles will be visiting the area, a schedule will be provided on websites and publications.
In its first year of service, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon’s Hope One program travels twice a week to locations throughout Morris County, bringing services to persons in need. A sheriff’s officer, licensed clinician, and a certified peer recovery specialist staff the vehicle with a goal to prevent drug overdoses and deaths by reaching out to those in need.
Since its inception, Hope One had nearly 3,000 residents in need visit the mobile unit and nearly 850 county residents received life-saving Narcan training to be employed in emergencies. Stops have included
supermarket shopping centers, libraries, churches and malls.
Hope One is able to provide clients immediate access to services and treatment facilities, putting them on the road to recovery and wellness; Narcan training and kits are provided to family members and friends of individuals with opiate addiction.
For more information, visit: https//sheriff.morriscountynj.gov/community/hope-one/.