Interview by Jan Osborn. Photos courtesy of Recovery Resource Council.
Recovery Resource Council is a nonprofit organization providing hope in conquering addiction and healing families. The Council is the link between substance abuse services and the adults, youth and families who are in need of such services. Accredited by the Joint Commission in Behavioral Health and licensed by the State of Texas as an Outpatient Treatment Center, the Council has an extensive history of providing case management and behavioral health services to those seeking help with substance abuse and mental health issues. Since its inception in 1946, the Council has grown to be recognized as a leader in North Texas in the fields of outreach, intervention and prevention. Each year over 100,000 individuals are touched by one of the Council’s programs in 19 North Texas Counties.
Eric Niedermayer serves as Chief Executive Officer at Recovery Resource Council. We recently had the opportunity to ask Eric questions regarding the pandemic and how it has affected programs at the Council.
As nonprofits across North Texas are working to respond to COVID-19, what does it look like for Recovery Resource Council to continue serving those in recovery?
COVID has resulted in all staff from direct care to senior leadership to work more hours more intensely than at any time in its history. The result of these efforts is that telemedicine treatment has replaced in-person outpatient treatment recovery services without a drop in numbers served, in fact, we have seen an increase in numbers served and a higher successful completion rate. Our veteran’s rapid rehousing program has doubled in size since COVID resulting in over 120 veterans and their families being housed in hotels or homes with that number growing daily. This housing program is not an 8-5 M-F program, needs are met as identified, problems are solved during the day, nights, and weekends.
How has Recovery Resource Council been able to offer practical support to those facing substance use disorders during such an uncertain time in our community?
The Council has remained accessible to those in recovery and seeking recovery during what’s become the “new normal” times. Even though over 90% of our nearly 100 staff are working out of the office if you call our main number you will get connected to the help you need. In the past couple of weeks, we have received over 600 calls a week from those needing help or direction. Children living in shelters and in low-income apartment complexes have had to face many months of isolation which puts them at risk for negative situations such as alcohol or drug misuse/abuse, depression, or trauma. The Council staff have gone to shelters either in person or virtually and have done prevention youth and parades in an effort to spread positive uplifting messages, educate on dangers of substance abuse, and do outreach.
Recovery Resource Council is fervently working to provide temporary financial assistance to low-income veterans and their families affected by the recent pandemic through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. In addition to including rent and utilities, qualifying participants in SSVF may also receive case management services, assistance in obtaining VA benefits and public assistance, and referrals and connection to other community services. The SSVF serves individual qualifying Veterans and their families, Veterans who are literally homeless or imminently at risk of homelessness. The household income must not exceed Tarrant County Area Median Income of $26,600 for an individual, $30,400 for a family of 2, or $38,000 for a family of 4.
According to a recent report by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the combination of job losses, social isolation, and mounting anxiety connected to the coronavirus pandemic has hit veterans especially hard. About one in every seven veterans employed in America today works in an industry considered high-risk for layoffs (Mining and oil/gas extraction, transportation, employment services, travel arrangements, and leisure and hospitality). Even before the current crisis, surveys showed that more than one-third of post-9/11 veterans had challenges paying their bills. Nearly 60 percent of in their 30s or 40s had significant credit card debt, compared to less than 50 percent for non-veteran households. In addition to the financial worries, veterans already facing mental health difficulties could see those problems aggravated by public health efforts to stop the outbreak.
Can you share a story of someone who has been helped through this program?
Timothy Red, a Veteran Services Case Manager for Recovery Resource Council, was recently assigned to aid a military family in need. Their family of eight (six kids in school, elementary through high school) had been living in one hotel room in NW Grand Prairie for the past year. The wife had lost her job because of the pandemic and the Veteran had taken out a loan to make up for the loss in her salary and to bury his father who had recently passed. Their air-conditioner had been out for over a week and the hotel kept making excuses about when it was going to get repaired. Using funds provided by the SSVF, Recovery Resource Council was able to put them in two adjoining rooms at a Comfort Suites that had sleeping accommodations for the entire family and provide them with emergency groceries. The Veteran told Red that it “was best they had slept in a long time.” This is just one example of what The Council sees daily in our DFW Veteran community.
In the event that a Veteran does not qualify for the SSVF program, Recovery Resource Council will make every effort to connect them to any available resources. Interested Veterans should call 817-413-3921 or email email@example.com.
What is the best way for the North Texas community to support Recovery Resource Council right now?
Provide financial support for two of our upcoming events. We are excited to be bringing former LPGA Player Laura Baugh to share her recovery journey at our Power of Prevention event on September 16th at the Hyatt Regency Dallas (virtual attendance optional). We hope as people are struggling in this very difficult time in our country she will bring a message of hope and perseverance. And on Tuesday, October 27th, we are hosting our 2020 Golf Classic at Ridglea Country Club in Fort Worth. Event sponsorships and donor support are down due to COVID and those dollars are critical to us making a budget and avoiding furloughs and or layoffs.
For more information, visit recoverycouncil.org.