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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Volunteering and Leadership Development


Volunteering provides the forum to work outside your comfort zone, yielding an opportunity to work with new challenges, people, public policies, and behavioral change. Volunteering sets into action new priorities for people who need direction. Volunteering also offers opportunities for people in recovery, family members, and friends in the community to be the authentic voice for change. Learning new skills, responsibilities, and community service all contribute to Leadership development.

PRO-ACT Ambassadors for Recovery is built on strong leadership principles through the help of skilled volunteers.  Developing leadership skills in our volunteers is one of the main goals. PRO-ACT achieves leadership development through many vehicles.  Let’s talk about five strong platforms, which include the recovery plan, Group Leader and Facilitator, 15 minute interview, Recovery Mentoring, and the Philadelphia Peer Leadership Academy (PPLA).

The critical path of a new volunteer starts with a 15-minute interview involving the Volunteer Coordinator. This meeting establishes goals and a training path that you, as a new volunteer, can follow and achieve. In the interview we take note of what your strengths and interests are and learn what you like to do. We match your skills and interests to the roles that fit you best. A portion of the meeting is spent on developing a shared vision and mission, which offers hope for the organization and its volunteers. Going forward the volunteer develops their own mission directed in the leadership development path.

The recovery plan helps you achieve your personal vision and mission through establishing goals focusing on your strengths, skills, and actions. The purpose is to strengthen the recovery path of each volunteer, providing self-discipline to achieve their goals. The next path concerning leadership development is Group Leadership and Facilitation. This certified training allows you to get facilitation skills and a foundation to become a group leader. This certificate creates a solid foundation in leadership skills that help prepare you for the future.

The process of leadership development starts with assessing skills, strengths, interests and opportunities for improvement. The Recovery Mentoring Training starts with the assessment process and cataloging these assessment findings mixed with background and interests that aid in Peer recovery support services. Recovery Mentoring is a new approach in assisting an individual in his or her pursuit of a recovery lifestyle. Recovery Mentors function on a peer- to- peer basis with the mentor reviewing the meaning of the pathways to recovery and their importance.  Applying Mentoring skills in the field help to shape and mold the volunteer into a practiced leader.

 One of PRO-ACT’s actions relating to the mission is Zip-Code Advocacy. Once an organization has identified a project such as Zip-Code Advocacy, engaging volunteers to lead these programs is a crucial part in developing leadership skills while positively changing the community through on the job training. Developed leadership skills create authenticity of voice through building true character promoting change in the community. PRO-ACT develops leaders to offer opportunities to make their voices heard while providing community service. The Philadelphia Peer Leadership Academy training structure encompasses these leadership tools. PPLA is designed to develop leadership skills that propel the individual, while supporting the foundation of leaders developing leaders providing services for the interest of the community.

Volunteer Quote on Leadership:

“I am honored to know how to transition the Leadership Principles to the role of zip-code advocacy to the community and increase my strength in that role. I now understand what leadership is and how to present myself as one. I am now a new leader for the world thanks to PRO-ACT!” – PPLA graduate and PRO-ACT Volunteer

To get involved, contact one of our Volunteer Coordinators:
Central Bucks:  Email or call Rick at 215-345-6644
Southern Bucks:  Email or call Karen at 215-788-3738 x100
Philadelphia: Email or call She-Ria at 215-233-7700 or Email John or call 215-923-1661 
Chester, Delaware and Montco: Email or call John at 215-923-1661
PRO-ACT Recovery Walks! Committees: Email  or call John at 215-923-1661

John K Carlson
Volunteer Coordinator
Philadelphia Recovery Training Center

How Schools Can Help Preserve the Next Generation

apple for teacherThrough our “Preserving the Next Generation” series, we have discussed the importance of addressing the intergenerational cycle of addiction and using the Search Institute 40 Developmental Assets to build protective factors in our youth.  Schools also play a huge role in the lives of our youth and can be powerful in the prevention of youth substance use.  One of my favorite quotes by Ron Edmonds, 1986 states “A school can create a coherent environment, a climate, more potent that any single influence – teachers, class, family, neighborhood, so potent that for at least six hours a day it can override almost everything else in the lives of children”.

Academics remains the forefront in any educational setting, however, as needs of students have grown, so has the ability of schools to address the social-emotional needs of students and families.  One of the most successful programs in Pennsylvania that addresses the needs of students is the Student Assistance Program (SAP).  Now in its 30th year, SAP helps schools identify students who are experiencing behavior and or academic difficulties that are posing a barrier to their learning and success in school. SAP offers support to those students and their families.  The Council has been a proud Commonwealth Approved Trainer in the Student Assistance Program, training over 75 education professionals each year how to assist students and their families.  Schools can identify students, through observable behaviors, who may need support in academics, attendance, health or behaviors.  This comprehensive program is confidential, supportive and successful.  Through SAP, students and families may be linked to school or community-based supports to help the student maintain a healthy and happy future. 

Schools can also utilize the Search Institutes 40 Developmental Assets to preserve the next generation.  Out of the 40 identified assets, school can foster 22 assets in students alone.  Some schools develop 40 asset themes where they identify certain assets to foster throughout the month, or semester.  They then plan universal programming to the students to teach about those assets.   Schools also partner with Community That Care Coalitions who provide essential prevention programming to educate students on alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention.   Prevention programs can encompass classroom presentation, student assemblies and school-based groups. 

All these program teach youth skills and interventions to help support their health and success in their personal lives and academic careers.  Common tools that are taught to students are positive decision-making skills, refusal skills, healthy relationships, and positive communication skills, as well as the dangers of substance use.  Schools also can assist families with obtaining educational materials that address talking to youth about substance abuse, assistance with access to treatment providers, recovery support services and aftercare planning for students returning after treatment. 

To learn more about services available in schools and what additional supports The Council offers to schools please contact us at 215-230-8218 ext. 5 or visit our website at

Melissa Groden, MS, HS-BCP
Prevention and School Services Manager

Families Now Have a Tool to Prevent Overdose

narcan-with-needle3-300x234One person dies every 19 minutes from unintentional drug overdose (Paulozzi 2012). Pennsylvania is among the ten states with the highest opioid use and overdose rates (Paulozzi 2012).  With these staggering statistics, families at times may feel powerless in protecting their loved ones from an overdose.  However, on September 30, 2014, Pennsylvania legislators voted to enact a law that will provide a tool to prevent overdose.   Effective December 1, 2014, Pennsylvania became the 21st state to implement a “Good Samaritan Law” which allows an individual to call 911 or emergency services for a person who is overdosing without fear of facing charges themselves for being involved in drug use or being impaired.

The Good Samaritan Law also added Pennsylvania to the list of states which provide legal access to Naloxone, a lifesaving drug that reverses the effects of opiates/opioids. To date there are 29 states which provide access to either families, friends or both. The means of access vary from state to state but here in PA, starting December 1st, any physician can write a prescription for the lifesaving drug Naloxone to family members or friends. The stigma of addiction in today’s society is bad enough, but withholding a lifesaving drug based on stigma alone is inexcusable.

Now with the passing of The Good Samaritan Law, friends and family members of someone who is in an active opiate addiction can get a prescription so that they will have it on hand in case it is needed.  The access to Naloxone should not be reserved for opiate dependent persons. Anyone who is prescribed an opioid runs the risk of accidental overdose. So perhaps in order to protect our family and friends, Naloxone should be scripted to anyone receiving a prescription for an opioid pain medication. Since all opioid pain medications carry the risk of accidental overdose, this precautionary measure would no doubt save lives.

The access to Naloxone should not be stigmatized as a safety net as some have called it, but as a tool to prevent overdose.  Recovery support services and family education should follow any treatment for a substance use disorder.  The Good Samaritan Law provides a way for families and friends to prevent their loved ones from overdose, and accessing emergency services without fear of incrimination. The Good Samaritan Law also allows families and individuals who have experienced an overdose to get the support they need to start their path to recovery.  Through education and recovery support services, individuals and families will learn tools and strategies to help break the intergenerational cycle of addiction and preserve our next generation.  What our community can learn from the enactment of the Good Samaritan Law is that every life is valuable and we need to offer all supports available to protect the next generation. 

The Council’s Overdose Prevention and Education Advisory Board offers an “Overdose Prevention, Education and Response Training” that walks a person through treating someone who is experiencing an overdose and how families can administer Naloxone.  This training is not meant to replace calling 911, rather it designed to stabilize a person until first responders arrive. The first step in any overdose, should always be to call 911. It is vital to get the person who is overdosing medical attention even after the person is given Naloxone and brought out of their overdose. Since the effects of heroin outlast the effects of naloxone, the person could slip back into an overdose once the Naloxone wears off.

So now that the Good Samaritan Law has been enacted, it will no doubt save lives. It is our responsibility to let people know that this law exists and how to navigate it. If you have a friend, family member or loved one who could benefit from this law and access to Naloxone, let them know about it and encourage them to attend a training. The Council will be offering a newly revised training in January that expands on The Good Samaritan Law and Naloxone administration and distribution.  For more information please visit our Overdose Prevention and Education Advisory Board webpage:

David Fialko, BS
Prevention Specialis
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

Bailiwick Office Campus Unit 12, 252 West Swamp Rd. Doylestown, PA 18901 | 215.345.6644


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