The Crossing, Addiction Freedom Program will provide free assistance to addicted individuals and their families in Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid, Stoddard, Pemiscot, Cape Girardeau, Ripley, Butler and Dunklin counties through outreach, case management, education and mentoring.
The three-year project will be funded entirely through the $1,497,770 private MFH grant. "This is not your tax dollars," said Janie Pfefferkorn, executive director of Mission Missouri, during a celebration of the grant award held Monday at Mission Missouri.
The program's goal is to aid rehabilitating individuals by creating a safety net to facilitate recovery and a productive re-entry into society. "We hope to serve 4,500 individuals in the first year and identify another 3,600 in the second year," Pfefferkorn said.
Eight collaborative partners will assist in the crises-to-well-being component of the program in addition to Mission Missouri: Chambers and Associates of Grand Chain, Ill.; Scott County Faith Mentoring; Operation Hope of Ripley County; Project Hope of Cape County Faith Mentoring; Families and Communities Connecting of Pemiscot County Faith Mentoring; Committed Caring Faith Communities; SEMO Health Network; and the North Sixth Street Evangelistic Church of God in Christ in Hayti, which is the first of what will be many "Healing Harbors" planned for the program.
"The Healing Harbors are sites that will serve Crossing participants (addicted individuals and their families) by providing information/referral, hosting trainings, support groups, etc.," Pfefferkorn explained. Committed Caring Faith Communities will provide training for churches so they may become Healing Harbors.
Providing the state's perspective on the program, Mark Stringer of the Missouri Department of Health's Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse commented on the effect state funding cutbacks have had on treatment facilities.
"As the funding shrinks, the waiting list grows longer," Stringer said. "In some cases it's a death sentence...If we don't get people in treatment within 48 hours, we lose them."
While drug abusers have a choice in their addiction, their children do not, nor do the victims of drunk drivers, he noted.
"It's a lifeline that could not have come at a better time," Stringer said of the Crossings program.
"This is everybody's issue," said Lynne Chambers of Chambers and Associates in Grand Chain, Ill. "It's touched our society - no one is immune from this disease."
Chambers also noted the importance of persistence, citing the 18-month process that preceded the grant award.
State Rep. Peter Myers said as a member of the state legislature's appropriations committee, he would rather see money go toward prevention programs than prisons.
"We're going to see transformed lives," promised Pfefferkorn, "and that, in turn, helps everybody."
Using a powerpoint presentation, Pfefferkorn reviewed Mission Missouri's mission and history, presented statistics illustrating the need for the Crossings program, and outlined how the program will work.
Pfefferkorn explained it will use a three-step process in which all of the partners will serve as points of entry for the program with Mission Missouri being the primary point of entry.
Within 24 hours, participants will be referred to the nearest of the faith-based mentoring entities formerly funded by the Missouri Department of Social Services in Scott, Cape Girardeau, Ripley and Pemiscot counties. These in turn will assess and direct participants toward appropriate intervention.
The "community celebration" was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the House of Liberty, formerly a 60-room nursing home which was donated to Mission Missouri in March 1999 and was transformed over two years through Missouri Methodists' Office of Creative Ministries into a place where Crossings participants can stay in a supportive atmosphere while they wait for treatment or re-engagement in society. "The gap is in aftercare and support," Pfefferkorn said.
Pfefferkorn closed the celebration with the program's motto: "Let's move from darkness into the light."
With current assets of about $1 billion, the Missouri Foundation for Health is the largest health care foundation in the state and the second largest conversion foundation in the country.
The MFH was formed in 2000 as the result of the 1994 conversion of the not-for-profit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri into a for-profit company, RightCHOICE Managed Care Inc.
As not-for-profit entities are considered community trusts in Missouri, Attorney General Jay Nixon sued on the grounds that assets accrued by Blue Cross Blue Shield as a charitable organization should continue to benefit the public.
The case was settled with 80 percent of RightCHOICE stock going to the foundation. RThe foundation must distribute at least 5 percent of its assets each year by 2004.
For more information contact Janie Pfefferkorn at 472-4141.