BOSTON, MA February 23, 2023 – The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) and Volunteers of America (VOA) Northern New England are excited to share the announcement of the first Maine Statewide Convening to be held on March 7, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. EST. This virtual event is intended to increase awareness and provide an overview of deflection and diversion initiatives within the state of Maine.
The convening will welcome police, public safety, treatment, and public health organizations, as well as members of the public. The gathering of these like-minded organizations will provide an opportunity for agencies to share how they are implementing non-arrest programs for those with substance use disorder and connect with other agencies involved in similar work across the state. During the convening, PAARI partners will have a chance to share any feedback with the organization and learn about opportunities for support and assistance.
The Maine Convening will kick off with Robyn Goff, Director of Community Justice Programs, and Stephen Brimley, Diversion and Deflection Program Manager, of VOA Northern New England, sharing a brief introduction to their organization and describing the importance of Maine’s community members to gather to discuss solutions to help those with substance use disorder. Brittney Garrett, Director of Public Safety Training and Outreach at PAARI, will then present a brief introduction to the organization and an overview of deflection and diversion methods. The convening will continue with Lauren Dembski-Martin, Social Services Navigator for Scarborough, ME, and Gordon Smith, Director of Opioid Response for the State of Maine, providing an overview of their services.
Following introductions and overviews, William Bonney, Interim Chief at Waterville PD, will highlight its use of PAARI’s Recovery Corps Program, which places a full-time PAARI volunteer alongside a police department to address the opioid epidemic and expand access to treatment and recovery. Najja Morris-Frazier, Director of the Support Bureau at LEAD National, will then present about LEADS’s programming and share the work they have accomplished in the state of Maine. VOA Northern New England will follow by sharing their noteworthy work in the state. The convening will come to a close with a Q&A session and sharing of any next steps.
“It is important to VOA Northern New England to hold this event in partnership with PAARI, in Maine. We hope to educate community members on diversion and deflection work, how to start up initiatives in their respective communities, and to provide information on how to access these existing resources,” says Robyn Goff of VOA Northern New England. “We also want to share with attendees the importance of collaboration and effective communication with one another. We all have the same end goal and believe we can get there more effectively when we are all on the same team.”
“We are grateful to VOA Northern New England for partnering with us to share this important information with our Maine partners and community members,” says Zoe Grover-Scicchitano, Executive Director of PAARI. “When like-minded organizations come together in spaces like these, real change is possible.”
Written by: Isabella Nowak
ABOUT PAARI: The Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. Founded alongside the groundbreaking Gloucester, Mass., Police Department Angel Initiative in June 2015, PAARI has been a driving force behind this rapidly expanding community policing movement. We provide technical assistance, strategic guidance, connection to training resources, and other capacity-building resources to more than 700 police departments in 40 states.
PAARI works with more than 130 law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts alone. PAARI and our law enforcement partners are working towards a collective vision where non-arrest diversion programs become a standard policing practice across the country, thereby reducing overdose deaths, expanding access to treatment, improving public safety, reducing crime, diverting people away from the criminal justice system, and increasing trust between law enforcement and their communities. Our programs and partners have saved tens of thousands of lives, changed police culture, and reshaped the national conversation about the opioid epidemic since its founding in June 2015. Learn more at paariusa.org.
ABOUT VOA Northern New England: Over the years, Volunteers of America has established itself as “The Place to Turn” for our country’s most vulnerable individuals. Volunteers of America was founded in 1896 by social reformers Ballington and Maud Booth. They envisioned a movement dedicated to “reaching and uplifting” the American people. On behalf of the organization, the Booths pledged to “go wherever we are needed, and do whatever comes to hand.” That declaration continues to guide Volunteers of America’s outreach efforts today.
At Volunteers of America Northern New England we serve the people of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont with the promise to reach out and uplift the human condition and provide opportunity for individual and community involvement. Volunteers of America has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions. Volunteers of America is also proud to be the largest provider of affordable housing in the country. Learn more at voanne.org.