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Popp named project co-director of Windham County COSU

BRATTLEBORO—Health Care and Rehabilitation Services (HCRS), southeastern Vermont’s non-profit community mental-health agency, announced that Jedediah Popp has been hired as the new project co-director for the Windham County Consortium on Substance Use (COSU).

According to a news release, Popp will join Rosie Nevins-Alderfer, who has been director of the consortium for the past year, as co-director.

COSU is a countywide collaboration of local organizations that work across the continuum of substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery to address the impacts of opioid and other substance use. HCRS is the fiscal agent for this program.

The project “is focused on incorporating people with lived experience into their organization in order to enhance supports for residents living with substance-use disorder.”

By centering the voices and experience of those most impacted by substance use in their leadership, the COSU says it “can create a movement for change in the community that puts life and relationships at its core. The hiring of Popp is the first step in this new focus for the COSU.”

Popp, recently employed at HCRS as a case manager in Windham County, says he humbly and freely shares his own story in order to help those living with the impact of substance-use disorder.

Following many years of opiate use, Popp was homeless when he arrived in Brattleboro in 2012 and would remain so for close to a year.

During his history with substance use, Popp had multiple incidences where naloxone (Narcan) was administered due to overdose.

Popp credits such interventions, as well as support from the Brattleboro community (and the relationships he developed), with saving his life — helping him to recover from substance use issues and get back on his feet.

These strong relationships also provide Popp with a strong starting-off point in his new role. He hopes to expand COSU collaborations across Windham County.

The co-directors will be working together to develop new positions specifically targeted for people with lived experience and helping to foster a work environment where a person’s lived experience is valued. Those with lived experience will have a significant role in the development, design, and implementation of new programs.

“It’s really important that we inspire trust and confidence,” Popp said, “so that COSU staff can use their lived experiences to be successful in their new roles. When people did this for me, it had such a profound impact in my life.”

Organizational membership currently includes Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center, Groundworks Collaborative, Windham County Prevention Partnership, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Greater Falls Connections, Habit OPCO, Youth Services, Grace Cottage Hospital, AIDS Project of Southern Vermont, Brattleboro Retreat, Turning Point of Windham County, Vermont Department of Health, and the Vermont State Police.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #600 (Wednesday, February 17, 2021). This story appeared on page A4.

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