New grant money to be used to address growing opioid epidemic in U.P.

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula Coalition Network received a $52,500 grant to address the growing opioid epidemic on Friday.

The funding comes from the Taking Action on Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse in Michigan by Supporting Community Responses Initiative. The initiative helps community coalitions, like the U.P. Coalition Network, begin new projects or expand existing projects aimed at reducing opioid and prescription drug abuse and harm.

The grant is the product of a collaboration between The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, The Michigan Health Endowment Fund, The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and The Superior Health Foundation.

“This is something that we have to get out in front of. We are just very pleased to be able to partner collaboratively, provide some funding dollars and address and issue that we think is paramount for the future of our kids and the future of our families,” said Jim LaJoie, the executive director of the Superior Health Foundation.

The Upper Peninsula Coalition Network includes all 14 youth prevention coalitions from across 15 U.P. counties. The funding will help them continue to focus prevention efforts, especially through the means of a “Tri-Ethnic Readiness Survey.”

“This money will primarily be used to help us determine what the readiness level of each community is,” said Gery Shelafoe, prevention coordinator with NorthCare Network/Upper Peninsula Coalition Network. “If a community, for example, doesn’t understand that there’s a problem in their community, then the response would be to help that community understand that so they’d be more willing to help.”

The funding will also cover collaborations with law enforcement, like the Drug Take-Back Days, treatment providers and doctors, as well as message campaigns.