ROCHESTER, New Hampshire – On the road to recovery, transportation itself can be a serious barrier. Kerry Norton recognized this. “It has always been an issue. Our most vulnerable clients need to have safe transportation to their appointments and shouldn’t miss them just because they can’t find a ride.”
Norton is the co-founder and Executive Director of Hope on Haven Hill (HHH), a therapeutic treatment program in a home environment for pregnant women with substance use disorder who are seeking recovery. HHH provides a safe home with comprehensive addiction treatment services, family therapy, parenting classes and more. These services are provided even after women transition out of living at HHH, which is one place where the transportation issues come into play.
“We didn’t want to rely on other transportation services,” Norton said. “So we decided to become our own.” HHH has recently purchased a Connected Transportation Services (CTS) van and hired a certified driver. The Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services (BDAS of NH) awarded them with funding for the driver if they were able to secure a safe van. Kennebunk Savings stepped in to provide the funds to make that possible. Hilltop Chevrolet in Somersworth NH, a long-time supporter, assisted in finding just the right van.
Kennebunk Savings’ Spotlight Fund focuses a portion of their charitable giving toward alleviating this critical community issue. In 2020, the bank has committed to donating $150,000 to programs aimed at community education and barrier reduction for those in recovery.
“We’re looking at social determinants of health and their impact on individuals with substance use disorder,” said Bradford C. Paige, the President and CEO of Kennebunk Savings. “The pandemic has emphasized how important basic factors like transportation, housing and education are for facilitating wellness in our community. We’re doing everything we can to improve access.”
Operations at Hope on Haven Hill and their sister residence, Abi’s Place, have continued amidst the pandemic. Norton, who is also on the board of the Strafford County Public Health Department, quickly put safety policies in place when COVID-19 reached our area. HHH issued a Stay At Home order for their facilities before the state did. They expanded telehealth appointments, offered virtual Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as well as yoga classes. But those expansions, the changes to staffing necessitated by social distancing, the swollen grocery bills and purchasing PPE came at a steep cost. 30% of the funds HHH receives from the state were diverted to COVID-19 relief, and typical fundraising options like galas and golf tournaments are off the table. They were recently dealt an additional blow when a tree downed by Hurricane Isaias caused thousands of dollars in damage to Abi’s Place; it was declared an “act of nature” and the damage was not covered by insurance.
“The good news is, no clients have been sick,” Norton says. “We’ve had three babies born during this, graduations and successful new admissions. The first two weeks are always the hardest, and to have to spend that time in quarantine and then still engage with our programs is remarkable.