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Fighting addiction by finding a job in Harford and Cecil counties | READER COMMENTARY

Charlie Negrete. left, a former addict and now chef instructor at L.A. Kitchen, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles that trains people for kitchen jobs, works with students Jose Moreno, center, and Michael Hernandez as they prepare to turn oven dried tomatoes into tomato powder. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Charlie Negrete. left, a former addict and now chef instructor at L.A. Kitchen, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles that trains people for kitchen jobs, works with students Jose Moreno, center, and Michael Hernandez as they prepare to turn oven dried tomatoes into tomato powder. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times) (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Alexandra Wimberly and Shawna Murray-Browne cite the vital need for employment and workforce development programs for people in recovery from drug addiction (“Want to reduce overdose rates? Treat poverty first,” July 20).

Good news: For Cecil and Harford counties, the Susquehanna Workforce Network has started Project FORWARD (Fostering Opioid Recovery Workforce and Resource Development). Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Labor are funding our two counties and 16 other jurisdictions in Maryland through the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Support to Communities: Fostering Opioid Recovery Through Workforce Development.”

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Ms. Wimberly and Ms. Murray-Browne describe the heartbreaking connections between drug addiction, poverty and joblessness. Evidence-based studies show that having a job with support services such as counseling, child care and peer support is an effective pathway for people to stay sober and maintain their recovery.

At the Susquehanna Workforce Network, we realize that this is not easy work. Our employment specialists and other staff are trained to be especially empathetic and understanding about the dynamics and behaviors associated with substance use disorder. We have created new partnerships with recovery community organizations like Addiction Connections Resource in Harford County and Voices of Hope in Cecil County.

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One fallout from the COVID-19 epidemic is the need for workers to replenish the labor market throughout Maryland. Our primary goal at Project FORWARD is to help both people with substance use disorder and our economy recover.

Bruce England and Don Mathis, Havre de Grace

The writers are, respectively, executive director and board member of the Susquehanna Workforce Network.

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