Superior Health Foundation’s grant award celebration held

Dozens gathered at the Holiday Inn Wednesday night for the Superior Health Foundation Fall Grants Celebration. The 30 grants awarded by the organization in the past year totaled to $374,464.16 for agencies and organizations across the Upper Peninsula to address community health issues. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — The Superior Health Foundation hosted its Fall Grants Awards Celebration Wednesday evening at the Holiday Inn of Marquette in tribute to the nearly $375,000 in grants it has given out in the past year.

This year, SHF awarded about $27,150 in mini-grants, $64,000 in large grants, and $283,300 in proactive grants, which address substance abuse issues in the Upper Peninsula. The 30 grants awarded totaled roughly $374,500 for agencies and organizations across the U.P.

In previous years, SHF has used proactive grant giving to address issues like pediatric obesity in 2016 with $299,975 awarded. In 2015 the foundation awarded more than $220,000 to improve the mental health wellness of U.P. residents and in 2014 awarded more than $217,000 to improve oral health for children in the U.P.

This year, SHF is addressing a problem that is becoming more apparent in the U.P. and the country as a whole: substance abuse and addiction.

“We look at community needs assessments across the Upper Peninsula and one of the things that really stood out is the substance use issues that are prevalent,” said SHF Executive Director Jim LaJoie. “Anywhere in the Upper Peninsula the single biggest issue that I deal with and I hear people talk about is substance use and what’s happening to our kids, the amount of kids that have addictions, adults that are struggling with this, and just how it’s taxing our families and in many cases it’s destroying lives.”

LaJoie said the foundation feels it is its duty to use their position to help fund initiatives that aim to aid this problem.

“We felt that we really needed to get out in front of this and provide the necessary resources to be part of the solution. We know it’s a complex problem, there are many facets to the substance use issues in the U.P. but we feel we need to do our part to at least play a role in providing some evidence-based solutions to address this, because we can’t afford to sit back and not do anything,” said LaJoie.

Five different projects were chosen for funding under this focus:

• $6,250 was given to Healthy Youth Coalition of Marinette and Menominee Counties to support the “LOCK IT DROP IT, STOP IT” campaign, which works to reduce prescription drug abuse.

• $11,500 was awarded to MSU-CHM Upper Peninsula Region, which will sponsor a regional conference on how providers can start a Medication Assisted Drug Program in their own cities.

• $47,500 went to Catholic Social Services of the Upper Peninsula to facilitate the Re-Entry Recovery House, a faith-based program for men in substance abuse recovery with equipment and furnishings needed to operate in Escanaba.

• NorthCare Network received $100,000 to implement the Tri-Ethnic Readiness Survey in the U.P., which assesses how ready communities are to address an issue. This is a tool that can be used to match an intervention with a community’s level of readiness. NorthCare will also be using its grant to develop and provide educational campaigns, provide funds to Communities That Care coalitions and expanding Dial Help’s Safety Net Program.

• Great Lakes Recovery Centers was awarded with $118,055 to tackle opioid abuse in a three-tiered system. First, assisting individuals across the U.P. in locating and enrolling in services near them. Second, establishing Medication Assisted Treatment services in the eastern and western U.P. Third, developing in-home care teams to provide post-treatment services. With this grant, SHF fully funded the last two tiers.

“There are so many needs in the Upper Peninsula,” LaJoie said in a press release. “We’re incredibly blessed to be in position to help so many health-centered causes across the region.”

Rachel Oakley can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is roakley@miningjournal.net.