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About Sun Street Centers
Since 1968, Sun Street Centers has been providing the most comprehensive and effective services for education, prevention and recovery of alcohol addiction and drug abuse. Relying on a proven social model developed by their founders, Martin and Nancy Dodd, as well as the compassion and experience of their staff, they welcome all individuals and families to hope, heal, share and thrive with a drug-free and alcohol-free lifestyle. They provide services in Monterey and San Benito County, supporting local men, women and teens.
Funding from The Health Trust strengthened the Women’s Residential and Perinatal Program in Hollister, including women who are pregnant and those with young children who are recovering from alcohol and substance abuse, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By purchasing PPE, increasing access to telehealth services, and supporting the technology infrastructure required to implement these new services, Sun Street Centers pivoted to continue to impact the lives of women on the road to recovery.
Q1: As one of the only residential substance abuse facilities supporting women in Hollister, you had to pivot immediately and continue to adapt as we learned more about COVID. Tell us about the impact of COVID on your facility and the women and families you support.
The effects of the pandemic have hit our community very hard. Isolation, loss of housing, or employment, and health concerns have increased alcohol and drug abuse. Our facility in Hollister has been full, with a waiting list since July 2020 until today. Due to COVID, the normal structures in place to help people in early recovery was removed – they did not have 12 step meetings to attend in-person, family visits at the facility were not feasible, many did not have jobs to return to.
Q2: Holistically, how do you address the many health needs of your clients while they are in your care?
Mental health is our priority. After managing physical withdraw of alcohol or other drugs, mental health needs must be addressed. Our weekly visit from our licensed marriage and family therapist needed to be increased dramatically in frequency. Physical health needs to be addressed, as well. Our weekly “boot camp” training was cancelled due to COVID-19. We were able to secure a community volunteer who taught the ladies self defense classes for the past year. Food is very important, and the preparation of healthy meals is critical. We work with the Food Bank for healthy options and last year we had a retired caterer work with us to help with healthy meal prep. Tele-health allows access to therapy, medical appointments, but, most important, to family connection. Zoom was an important tool to help the women stay connected to their loved ones and receive crucial support.
Q3: How does providing behavioral health and substance abuse services build health equity in San Benito County?
These were quickly identified by the State as essential services from the beginning of the pandemic. Behavioral health is directly tied to excessive emergency room visits, criminal activity, unemployment, homelessness, overdose, suicide, and early mortality. An investment in the disease od addiction, reduces dependence on our public health system and criminal justice system, improve outcomes for kids especially truancy rates, improves employment attendance and productivity, reduces loss of housing, and increases the quality of life for anyone in a person’s circle of influence that is suffering from alcoholism or addiction.
Health equity is still “catching up” with substance abuse. Until everyone understands this is a mental and physical disease, albeit with terrible behavior side effects, the resources continue to be uneven for families, men, women, and youth, that need intervention.
Q4: How can the community support you or learn more about your work?
Please look us up at www.sunstreetcenters.org to learn more about our mission and services. Donations are an important part of our funding to cover unmet needs. You can donate directly on our website. Most of all, please advocate to help people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction get help. Speak up when you see someone in your life making dangerous choices like driving under the influence, or not following directions on an Rx bottle, or drinking until they are not making sense. Your opinion matters!