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Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Partners with...

Volunteers of America Delaware Valley, Pine Hill Police Department and Centers for Family Services to Launch Operation Helping Hand: Community IMPACT Series - Office of the Prosecutor Camden County

Pine Hill, N.J. – On Tuesday, March 23, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office in partnership with Volunteers of America Delaware Valley(VOADV), the Pine Hill Police Department and the Center for Family Services, is launching Operation Helping Hand: Community IMPACT Series – a series of assistance events designed to offer Camden County residents with linkage to critical social services.

“In the last three months, we have seen the highest number of overdose deaths in Camden County in at least five years. These statistics are alarming, and Operation Helping Hand is the kind of program that we hope can make a difference. We are thankful to have community partnerships with our municipal law enforcement agencies and organizations like Volunteers of America and Center for Family Services to offer a comprehensive, progressive approach to those who need it,” said Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer. “There is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan for someone suffering from substance use disorder. We understand this problem often goes hand-in-hand with something else, such as homelessness or mental health issues. By offering this event with a personalized treatment approach, we hope to make a true impact on those in need and look forward to continuing this series in other locations throughout the county.”

For Operation Helping Hand: Community IMPACT Series, Volunteers of America Delaware Valley and Center for Family Services will serve as community healthcare partners for this new series of assistance events, offering a holistic approach to the delivery of social services. Pine Hill Police Department will serve as the local law enforcement partner in Camden County.

“At Volunteers of America Delaware Valley, we work every day to provide direct, immediate linkage to essential services for our communities most vulnerable individuals. Through the Operation Helping Hand: Community IMPACT Series, our IMPACT specialists will approach each individual with care and compassion to help guide and navigate them towards long-term success and stability. We are proud to partner with the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, along with our longtime law enforcement partner Pine Hill Police Department and colleagues at Centers for Family Services, to extend critical social services to those in need of assistance in Camden County,” said Amanda Leese, SVP of Safe Return/Navigator Programs, Volunteers of America Delaware Valley.

“Pine Hill Police Department is excited to continue expanding initiatives with VOADV, as our community benefits from direct, immediate services delivery,” said Chief Christopher J. Winters, Pine Hill Police Department. “Our partnership over the past two years has yielded positive outcomes for the residents of Pine Hill and we look forward to continued expansion through vital initiatives and our partnerships with community stakeholders.”

Operation Helping Hand was developed by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal as a way to combat opioid addiction. In pursuit of Attorney General Grewal’s mission to expand the Operation Helping Handprogram throughout the state, New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES) utilized federal funds, subgranted from the New Jersey Department of Health, to provide grants to County Prosecutors’ Offices around New Jersey to establish or expand programs modeled on Operation Helping Hand. Counties are given flexibility to adapt the Operation Helping Hand strategy to meet local needs, as long as their programs rely on relationships with community healthcare partners and incorporate proactive outreach by law enforcement officers to serve as a point of entry for treatment and/or recovery support services.

Camden County used the grant funding to launch a traditional Operation Helping Hand program in 2019, the county’s first. During the weeklong operation, law enforcement officers encountered 126 people who were attempting to purchase drugs. Those with substance use disorders were offered a variety of treatment programs and recovery support services. Of the 126 individuals with whom law enforcement made contact, 17 entered into inpatient detox treatment, 25 entered intensive outpatient or community-based support program, and 7 entered into medically assisted treatment.

The newly launched Operation Helping Hand: Community IMPACT Series in Camden County is an extension of these efforts. Through collaborative, strategic partnerships with local law enforcement at the Pine Hill Police Department and healthcare providers Volunteers of America Delaware Valley and Centers for Family Services, these events are designed to address an individuals’ personalized needs and further demonstrates a commitment to assisting Camden County residents struggling with substance use disorder or in need of guidance in obtaining social services.

At each Operation Helping Hand: Community IMPACT Series assistance event, Volunteers of America Delaware Valley and Center for Family Services will offer linkage to treatment and a variety of onsite social services, including:

  • Linkage to mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Housing assistance
  • Assistance obtaining identification
  • Veterans services
  • Medical treatment linkage
  • Benefits assistance
  • Reentry services
  • Care management

“Center for Family Services is proud to partner with VOADV, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the Pine Hill Police Department to support Operation Helping Hand. Our peer specialists are on-site and ready to successfully navigate individuals, with substance use disorder, into a variety of treatment programs and recovery support services. Our peer specialists believe that each individual is important and that if you can help one individual to heal, you can heal that individual’s family and, subsequently, their community,” said Kim Govak, NCPRSS, CPRS, CRSP, Program Director of Living Proof Recovery Centers, Center for Family Services.

For more information about Operation Helping Hand or upcoming Community IMPACT Series assistance events, contact Colby Gallagher from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office at 856-397-1750 or via e-mail at [email protected].