Bartow County is one step closer to launching a recovery community organization (RCO) similar to Rome’s LivingProof Recovery. A time and location has not yet been finalized, but at a public meeting Thursday night local stakeholders nailed down the late April/early May window for a possible symposium date.
Several representatives of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse (GCSA) were present at the meeting at First Presbyterian Church in Cartersville.
“We receive funding from [the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA] and and then we pass that money down to these RCOs so that they can help build long-term sustainability, build capacity and expand their recovery support services,” said Emily Ribblett, a GCSA Building Communities of Recovery (BCOR) grant coordinator.
GCSA RCO Development Coordinator Brian Kite said such organizations are independent nonprofits led and operated by peers in substance use recovery. Among other goals, he said RCOs emphasize advocacy, training, education and peer recovery support services.
“What they do not do is provide clinical services,” he said. “But they can refer a few individuals to those services that are within the community.”
The GCSA, Kite said, offers technical assistance and support to RCOs.
“We have a network learning collaborative that Recovery Bartow will begin to be a part of,” he said, referring to the grassroots organization behind the push for a local RCO. “Not everybody needs direct peer support services, but again, it’s about the community becoming into recovery, as well.”
Ribblett said RCO symposiums usually run about four hours and include a litany of community speakers and panelists. The events are meant to pinpoint the specific gaps and needs communities may face in the battle against substance use dependency without duplicating existing services.
“What is that you guys offer that this community could really benefit from?” she said.
Kite said it’s not atypical for such symposiums to draw crowds in excess of 200 people. The GCSA, he said, can reimburse community organizations up to $6,000 for event expenditures.
“Each symposium is unique and hopefully, it’s just a reflection of the entire community,” he said. “We want to get as many people involved as possible.”
Kite ran down the three primary goals of the symposiums. The intent, he said, is not just to develop local leadership in recovery initiatives, but to also develop learning communities and connect local resources with each other to foster sustainability.
Several potential venues were listed at Thursday’s planning meeting — the Cartersville Civic Center, the Hamilton Crossing Park gymnasium, First Baptist Church and the Clarence Brown Conference Center were all name dropped — but no location for the symposium has been determined.
The same goes for the date of the symposium, although April 25 and May 2 — both Saturdays — were checked off as preferable.
As for potential community partners, Bartow Collaborative, Inc. Executive Director Doug Belisle said his organization could potentially serve as a “fiscal agent” for the symposium, adding the nonprofit could possibly chip in $5,800 for the event.
Recovery Bartow plans on having regular meetings in the lead-up to the symposium, ironing out specifics on things like door prizes, speaker lists and community partnerships.
When it comes to potential partnership opportunities, Kite said the possibilities are wide open.
“Anybody that is willing to provide resources for our supports for the individuals in recovery or that already does,” he said. “It could be an employer that says ‘Hey, we actively will employ some people,’ and some folks might not know about that in the community.”
More information on the local efforts to bring an RCO to the community is available online at www.recoverybartow.org