Volunteers and leaders from the Together Place recovery center and the United Way of Eastern Maine worked together to beautify a section of the city close to downtown by planting flowers, a vegetable garden and cleaning up the Second Street Park. These flowers were planted along Union Street at Second Street. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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As the opioid epidemic impacts the unemployment rates and vacant jobs in Maine, part of Eastern Maine Development Corporation’s (EMDC) focus is to assist people affected by the opioid crisis by helping them return and remain in the workforce.

EMDC’s workforce team joined 1,200 others in attending Gov. Janet Mills’ fourth annual opioid response summit in Bangor last Monday. This year’s summit was themed “Community, Connection, and Compassion.” The keynote speakers, including Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, along with the breakout sessions covering various topics involving treatment, prevention, harm-reduction, and recovery support was timely and informative. Our team learned many lessons and best practices that we will use to continually improve our job training and support services programs.

In partnership with the Maine Department of Labor, the Connecting with Opportunities Initiative aims to help people directly. This workforce project assists individuals and families impacted by the opioid crisis through individualized training and support services to re-enter Maine’s workforce.

Since 2020, EMDC has served over 200 people across 10 counties by providing one-on-one career guidance, employment-based case management, and financial assistance to unemployed individuals impacted by opioid use disorder. Today, many of our graduates are working across the state. To learn more about our workforce programs and how to enroll visit, https://www.emdc.org/workforce/.

Kimberly Morrison

Levant