LOGANSPORT, Ind. (WLFI) - Four County Counseling Center in Logansport is getting some help from the federal government. The center is one of six Indiana entities that is receiving this grant money.
The money is part of the 2019 Rural Communities Opioid Response Program. The grant runs through the Federal Health Resources and Service Administration. $24 million was awarded to 120 rural communities across the nation. Indiana got $1.2 million of that, and Four County is getting $200,000 total.
Keith Jasmantas spent Wednesday at Spencer Park with his two daughters, pointing out different types of trees and finding Kindness Rocks around the park. His kids attend Pioneer Elementary, which is part of Pioneer Regional School Corporation. Wednesday was the first day of summer vacation.
"I've got one going into second grade and another going into third grade," he said of his two kids playing. He also said he and his wife have another baby on the way.
He wants a better world for his kids. He said he saw his sister struggle with pain killer addiction, and described how the addiction deteriorated her life. He doesn't want his kids to suffer the same fate.
"It's absolutely a safety issue," he said.
Four County's federal grant money will be used to better understand the opioid crisis in the counties the center serves, which is nine total. Bethany Schoenradt is the Vice President of Operations at Four County Counseling Center. She called this new grant a "planning grant."
"We first have to identify what are the needs, so that's part of this project too," she said. "Initially we will be doing a needs assessment to figure out what are those specific community needs."
She said there are many stakeholders who are trying to tackle the problem from their perspective. She wants to bring everyone to the table to get on the same page.
"It will help with that planning process," she said. "We need to pull our community together to really think about what are the specific strategies we want to put in place."
And when she says everyone, she means everyone.
"It's the schools, it's law enforcement, medical providers, community members, government officials," she said.
Logansport Community School Corporation Superintendent Michele Starkey said the opioid crisis is impacting students. She said it can impact everything from performance to attendance. She said education has been proved time and time again to be effective.
"A number of years ago, we got a grant to do smoking prevention," she said. "We worked with Four County back then also to create a curriculum. We really saw an impact on just educating our kids and a decrease in smoking numbers."
So now, she wants to figure out how to implement opioid addiction education into the school district.
"What can we do at school? We have a captive audience every day," she said. "It's kind of like teaching kids to read. The earlier we get to them and develop those skills, the better off they are going to be long term."
Jasmantas said he is all for addiction education at school.
"Learning on the streets is learning by trying," he said. "Learning in school you are learning in a safe environment and you are learning from the people who will give you all the facts and hopefully scare them away from it."
Four County also received a $75,000 grant from the state in March. Schoenradt said they used that money to finance a full time recovery navigator. She said this person's helps anyone who comes through their doors, connecting them to housing options, employment options, helping them deal with insurance and suggesting addiction treatment options.
She said the navigator has been a successful position. In the first month, the navigator reported 10 contacts and after three months, has about 40 contacts.
If you are in a crisis, you can call 1-800-552-3106 or text 'IN' to 741-741. You can also contact the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.