The United Council on Opioids serving White County just celebrated its first anniversary.

Since Jan. 25, 2019, more than 70 community members have participated in creating solutions to the local substance abuse crisis. The UCO has developed partnerships with agencies across the region.

As we celebrate the UCO first anniversary, let’s reflect on all the accomplishments of its first year.

White County United Way brought leaders from the area together in the spring of 2018 to ascertain whether there was interest in developing a coalition to address the substance use epidemic. Under the United Way leadership, the AmeriCorps United Against Opioid Abuse initiative began and led to the formation of the United Council on Opioids.

In one year, the UCO task force groups have sponsored three rounds of billboard advertising promoting awareness of substance abuse in partnership with the city of Monticello.

They gathered information on treatment and recovery services in multiple locations around White County, developing resource directories/brochures of services that support mental and substance use disorder.

In a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of White County, an opioid awareness play was written and performed by Boys & Girls Club members to fifth graders at Meadowlawn Elementary School and the members of the Lynn Treece Boys & Girls club in Lafayette.

The UCO has partnered closely with the North Central Quick Response Team in connecting peers to local agencies and services. The UCO has spread the word about QRT to service organizations, government agencies, and business to help reach out to those in need in our community.

They are partnering with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) to bring a grief support group to White County as well as providing facilitator training for people desiring to lead mental health support groups locally.

The UCO partnered with Indiana University Health, the White County Health Department and the coroner, ministerial association, community corrections, and White County United Way for an ISDH INCARES ECHO grant to further awareness and treatment options in White County.

Healthy Communities of Clinton County has become a valuable ally, connecting White County to services and grants to meet the needs of our community in child safety, healthy lifestyles, mental health, and substance abuse prevention and awareness.

The UCO has worked closely with local law enforcement, the coroner, probation, prosecutor and health departments to gather statistics to show the needs and improvements made in combating substance abuse.

They invited nationally recognized speakers like Justin Beattey, from the Indiana Association of Peer Recovery Support Services, Justin Phillips, from Overdose Lifeline, and Mike Thibideau, from Indiana Work Force Recovery, to the county to share information about solutions to substance abuse and how those services can impact our community. Their expertise and knowledge have inspired and guided UCO work and goals.

The UCO is grateful for every individual and organization that has joined the vision of eliminating overdose deaths and increasing treatment and recovery awareness and services in White County. Together we can accomplish so much. There is synergy in our collective efforts and the momentum is increasing and moving us forward.

The task is large and can be overwhelming. But together as we pool resources and knowledge, we are making a difference. Everyone has gifts that can work toward meeting the needs of our community.

If you would like to join this important work, please contact me or Nikie Jenkinson at 574-583-6544. Our next UCO quarterly celebration will be noon to 1:30 p.m. March 6 at IU Health White Memorial Hospital. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience the successes of the UCO first hand. We would love for you to join us!

Happy Birthday, United Council on Opioids! May you have many more years of service to the community.

Lynn Saylor is an AmeriCorps member serving in the United Against Opioid Abuse Initiative through the White County United Way. She can be contacted at opioidinformation@gmail.com.