Each month, our team of PAARI Recovery Corps Members share a short write up of the month’s activities. We’re pleased to share David Toto’s write up for July 2020 to give you an inside look of what it’s like to be a Recovery Corps Member, especially during COVID-19. David serves as a Recovery Coach with the Methuen Police Department in Massachusetts.
July 2020: A Fulfilling Month
During this month, I was dealing with the deleterious effects of COVID-19 and how it has kept us out of our offices and off the streets. Serving from home has been keeping me and my other colleagues safe, which is great but there is an alarming increase in overdose in our community during this pandemic. This month, I attended the Circle of Hope family support group on Monday nights and the Lawrence based HUB meeting on Tuesday mornings. The Circle of Hope was started years ago but has been the mainstay of a couple who have children that have substance use disorders. They are an amazing couple who have a very unique perspective of the disease and the “best” way to relate to the sufferer. They very often invite new members into their home to share their stories and to offer time-proven methods that relieve the suffering of the family members. In my role as underling to C.A.R.E.S., I simply offer support to any family member who is encountering difficulty in dealing with their loved ones. I try to emphasize personal care and making sure that they are doing something nice for themselves each and every day. We do not realize how much of a personal strain that substance use disorders sufferers place upon the family. I also arrange for any medical care that the family member might require.
Our HUB meeting is the best! We have members from a large amount of agencies throughout the Merrimack Valley whose only concern is to provide services for the sufferer. The HUB was originally initiated by the Lawrence PD under Lt. Dan Fleming. He saw the need to “break the cycle” and pushed for the HUB. Each week we meet and anonymously present cases to all of the agencies. We then vote on whether to offer our services to the client, which we then present and follow-up on the cases. There have been numerous cases where I and my fellow Recovery Coaches have been asked to take on new clients. Given COVID-19, our role supporting these cases have shifted and we are finding ways to virtually support individuals.
Whatever moral and physical support that I can lend to families is very much appreciated by the members of the group. Doing what I can to support our HUB is also very important to me.
As a Recovery Coach during this pandemic and my personal status as a person with long term sobriety; I have care and support myself as well. This month, I made time for meditation and self care. It is similar to the airplane industry that strongly suggests that you put your mask on first before attempting to help others. I celebrated 25 years of sobriety on August 7th!
My service to PAARI’s Recovery Corps ends in August and as I enjoy my retirement my service to the community will not end. I will always be available to help the next sick and suffering person.
Check out our other Recovery Corps members who are working to make a difference in their communities every day. You can also learn more about our Recovery Corps program and see all currently open positions here.