CENTREVILLE — Symphony Village Outreach made a pair of $1,000 donations to the Drug Free Coalition and Crossroads Community Inc. Monday, Feb. 4, to continue efforts against the opioid crisis in the county.
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann joined John Plaskon, executive director of Crossroads, to accept the donations. The funds were raised by Symphony Village Outreach with a card party attended by an estimated 110 patrons gathering for favorites such as Bridge, Maj Jong, Canasta, Dominos, Scrabble, and Hand and Foot.
The decade-long tradition joins two other fundraisers they have throughout the year to collect money for county non-profit organizations. The 11-member board, which boasts an estimated 22 members, votes on the best charities for that year.
“I want to tell you how much it means that (Symphony Village Outreach) supports the efforts of QAC Goes Purple,” said Hofmann. “It has been an effort that has touched every single one of of our lives. Anything we can do to create awareness and education affects enforcement. When we started the purple campaign, we got a grant from the state. That was for awareness effort and it worked.”
Hofmann further noted intervention in cases of addiction is best before the individual has hit rock bottom.
The Drug Free Coalition, founded October 2003, aims to “advocate for a comprehensive alcohol and other licit and illicit drug prevention initiatives in Queen Anne’s County, and to work with other agencies, public or private, or state and local governments and the community at large to identify programs, resources, and unmet needs in (the county).”
Most recently, they joined with the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Department in September 2018 for “QAC Goes Purple” to spotlight the spike in opioid addiction and deaths due to overdose.
Since the start of 2019, total opioid-related calls to both Centreville Police and the sheriff’s office included six suspected nonfatal overdoses and two fatal overdoses.
“We reached out to the high schools last year with Chris Herren as the speaker. This year, we’re reaching out to middle schools and high school athletes with the Sheriff talking to them. We have many good things in the works,” said Warren Wright, chairperson for Queen Anne’s County Drug Free Coalition.
Statewide, the Maryland Department of Health released data for unintentional drug and alcohol-related intoxication deaths through the second quarter of 2018. During this six-month period, which included January through June of 2018, there were 1,325 total unintentional intoxication deaths, a 12 percent increase over the same period in 2017. Of these, 1,185 were opioid-related deaths in the state, including 1,038 fentanyl-related deaths.
More than three-quarters of all overdose deaths in 2018 involved fentanyl, a trend that has continued since the first quarter of 2017, when the number of fentanyl-related deaths first exceeded the number of heroin-related deaths.
The other recipient of the donation was Crossroads Community Inc., which was originally incorporated in 1984. The fledgling organization was initially charged with providing psychosocial rehabilitation services to adults with serious and persistent mental illness who resided in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.
“We treat people with mental illness and often they have concurrent issues with addiction,” said Plaskon. “The funding we get is for services and there are ancillary costs like a new set of clothes for someone for a job interview, or medical visits. They even include residential programs for clients and for that we thank (Symphony Village) very much.”
Crossroads now provides a full array of psychiatric rehabilitation services to adults and children and case management services to adults throughout five mid-shore counties. In 2009, Crossroads expanded to also provide clinical services through its clinic, Corsica River Mental Health Services.
From July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018, 233 individuals were served, a total of 229 volunteer hours were amassed, and there was a sum of $56,073 in grants and contributions.
According to data collected by Crossroads, among those who receive treatment for mental health issues, 70 to 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life. An estimated 45 to 60 percent sustain complete remission, even from such debilitating illnesses as schizophrenia, clinical depression and bi-polar disorder.
Interest for the next card party is already very strong with Symphony Village Outreach making plans for the event, organizers said.
“I’m glad that we can give these donations. The card party is something we’ve done for 10 years now, and it’s a really big fundraiser for us,” said Carlene Cook, chairperson of the card party.