Mayor to create recovery coordinator position


After Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson won the election in 2019, he made a list of what he wanted to work on year by year.

In 2020 and 2021, housing was the No. 1 priority. For 2022, he wrote, “We do recovery.”

On Monday night, Nicholson announced during his State of the City address at city hall that providing help for people recovering from substance abuse disorders was going to be his primary focus this year.

Incorporating recovery into his 2022 plans started to come together Jan. 26 when he met with eight people in long-term recovery.

During that meeting at city hall, Nicholson said he wanted to learn more about what the city can do to address substance use disorders and recovery.

Some examples of issues the city and county face when it comes to addressing substance abuse disorders and recovery include not having a sober living facility or an in-house treatment center.

“The big piece that I walked away from that meeting with is we have to create the conversation about recovery,” he said.

On Jan. 31, Nicholson met with a man who works for the Alliance for Substance Abuse Program in Columbus. That man, who is in recovery, had been scheduled to attend the earlier meeting but was unable to make it. That proved to be fortuitous for Nicholson’s plans.

When the man went to work the next morning, he told his director about the meeting. The director said Nicholson might be interested in a 16-month $100,000 grant from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction that was available.

The ASAP director said the timeline to apply for the grant, however, was short.

Despite the short timeline, Nicholson said he opted to go ahead and apply for the grant, which is designed to create a recovery coordinator position to help direct those in recovery toward resources that might be beneficial for them.

Nicholson asked 50 governmental entities, organizations serving those in recovery and businesses to write letters of support for the grant and worked with ASAP to make sure everything was submitted correctly. With the help of his staff, the application was completed on time, and early last week, Nicholson said he learned the city had secured the grant.

“Now, we’re going to scramble to get a small board put together with the right stakeholders,” he said.

The next steps after obtaining the grant are putting a job listing up for the new recovery position and trying to find the right person for the job.

Nicholson said ASAP is written into the grant to be a consultant with the city in finding a recovery coordinator. He said he hopes to address those with substance use disorders in the community by “filling in the gaps” with what isn’t available in the city.

“To me, the catch to this whole thing is it’s great to think about it,” he said. “We know we don’t have a treatment center. We know we don’t have sober living facilities. We know these things are missing, but nobody’s day job is to work on this. This grant allows us to create this day job.”

One aspect of ASAP’s recovery model that Nicholson said he was inspired by was their “Hub” mechanism.

ASAP’s Hub is a centralized program where someone in recovery can discuss with the organization specifics about what kind of help they need, and ASAP can help direct them toward resources available for their benefit, such as recovery housing and programs, residential treatment or a county’s health system. ASAP does not create new programming.

Nicholson said some of the local places that people might be directed toward include New Beginnings Recovery Center, Centerstone and Christopher and Associates.

The mayor said he hopes to introduce other people to tell their stories about recovery to encourage others to get help, such as a local man he knows who is two years clean from methamphetamine addiction after being in prison for two years for drug charges.

“How do we share that story with the world?” he said.

Nicholson said his ultimate goal is surrounding recovery.

“I want to look back in 20 years and go ‘We have a community that embraces recovery and know that it’s humanly possible’ because it is,” he said.

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