Dawn Kearns is a fierce advocate for the community members she supports as the OPTIONS Liaison serving Kennebec County. One of the primary roles of an OPTIONS Liaison is to reduce the harm of using substances by providing education, connection to support, and life-saving resources like Narcan and Fentanyl Test Strips (FTS).

As part of our contract with the State of Maine to deliver the OPTIONS program to Somerset and Kennebec Counties, Narcan is a resource available to our Liaisons to distribute to individuals who use opioids and affected others who want to have the life-saving tool at their disposal. Unfortunately, FTS has yet to be resourced sustainably.

Dawn, stationed out of the Augusta Police Department, was able, through a partnership with the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI), to access a supply of FTS for a limited time. Additionally, the OPTIONS team advocated through the State of Maine’s OPTIONS technical assistance team for a limited number of FTS.

But Dawn knew we needed more FTS to support the needs of our community. So she reached out to the University of Vermont’s Center on Rural Addiction team. As a result, she secured a donation of 1,000 test strips to distribute to individuals she works with, which arrived at Crisis & Counseling Centers in June.

Dawn’s doggedness in finding resources for clients served by the OPTIONS program is a hallmark of our Community Case Management program and should be celebrated. While there is still work to be done to find sustainable sources for FTS, this is a massive win for our community and will go a long way in reducing harm throughout Kennebec County communities.

Story by Amber Kruk [she/hers], Communications + Development Director at Crisis & Counseling Centers