By Kirsti V. Thompson, Director, Give an Hour California
We have all heard the saying “It takes a village.” Our story is “It takes a transportation center.” Our new “village” is serving the needs of the Oxnard Transit Center and the surrounding community.
In early 2020, VCBH was contacted by Gold Coast Transportation Services. They shared that a team of bus operators who work in the Oxnard area had concerns about drug use paraphernalia left behind at the Oxnard Transit Center, which is located in downtown Oxnard and is the busiest transportation center in our region. They reached out for our help.
The Overdose Prevention Program was founded in 2014 and offers outreach, training, and access to Overdose Rescue Kits to those who qualify in Ventura County. Ashley Nettles, Program Manager of the Overdose Prevention Program offered training and overdose kits to the Gold Coast team. Since then, a collaborative workgroup was born! Members from Ventura County Public Health, Oxnard Police Department, VCBH, City of Oxnard, and Gold Coast Transit met virtually several times to identify the issues that were contributing to the problem and brainstorm ways to solve it.
One of the initial issues identified was ensuring that the resources that are available are promoted to those who may benefit from them. Instead of ignoring the problems with drug use and paraphernalia at the Transit Center, or simply calling the police, the collaborative recommended developing an outreach tool that highlights the local social services that could help. A bilingual resource card was developed.
The resource cards are on display at the Oxnard Transit Center and on the buses that travel through that area. Gold Coast drivers and managers have been trained in Opioid Overdose Response, and Opioid Overdose Rescue Kits are now kept on hand at the Transit Center and with Gold Coast Field Managers.
This is a new project, and we recognize it is a relatively small step in the big world of substance abuse and homelessness in Ventura County. We also know that it takes true collaboration (a real village!) to get meaningful work accomplished, and we are thankful to all who worked on this initial village building and will continue to work together to take steps together to address the big issues we face.
Founded in 2005 by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Give an Hour® is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming mental health by building strong and healthy individuals and communities. We provide no-cost counseling through a network of volunteer mental health professionals and empower community through collaborative programs, peer support and educational opportunities that benefit both clients and providers. Our efforts focus on people impacted by military service, mass violence, the opioid epidemic, and interpersonal violence.