New director for the Windham County Consortium on Substance Use

SPRINGFIELD, Vt.Health Care and Rehabilitation Services announced that Jedediah Popp has been hired as the new project co-director for the Windham County Consortium on Substance Use. Popp will join Rosie Nevins-Alderfer, who has been director of the consortium for the past year, as co-director.

Jedediah Popp
Jedediah Popp. Photo provided

As they seek to expand their impact, the COSU is focused on incorporating people with lived experience into their organization in order to enhance supports for residents living with substance use disorder. By centering the voices and experience of those most impacted by substance use in their leadership, the COSU can create a movement for change in the community that puts life and relationships at its core.

Popp humbly shares his own story in order to help those living with the impact of substance use disorder. Following many years of opiate use, Popp was homeless when he arrived in Brattleboro in 2012 and would remain homeless for close to a year. During his history with substance use, Popp had multiple incidences where Narcan was administered due to overdose. He credits interventions like this, as well as support from the Brattleboro community and the relationships he developed, with saving his life and helping him to recover from substance use issues and get back on his feet.

These strong relationships also provide Popp with a strong starting off point in his new role. He hopes to expand COSU collaborations across Windham County. “I’ve been building and developing relationships with most of the COSU members since coming to Brattleboro, where I met them through the services they provided. These relationships were life-saving to me at that specific time, because I was experiencing a significant amount of loss from 10 years of opiate use. So these relationships are very meaningful to me on a personal level and also now on a professional level,” states Popp.

Popp was recently employed at HCRS as a case manager in Windham County. He has a long history of working in the community to bring people together, creating connections, and uplifting the voices of those most impacted by substance use disorders. Beyond his ability to connect on an authentic human level, Popp is a savvy systems thinker, with the ability to analyze root causes and see opportunities to create structural change.

According to Nevins-Alderfer, “He brings a great deal of heart and empathy to his work – and I believe this will empower the COSU to greatly broaden its capacity to build meaningful relationships and shift meaningfully toward leadership that is driven by the people most impacted.”

Popp states, “My aspirations for this new position are to use my lived experience – and the lived experience of others – to help direct COSU in a way that, in the end, would end overdose deaths in Windham County completely and help people get their basic needs met with dignity. My heart hurts every time I hear of an overdose death and, at the same time, I feel so much empathy for people who’ve just lost a friend, relative, or loved one. It doesn’t have to be like this – we can do more as a community to help keep people alive and provide them with resources.”

The co-directors will be working together to develop new positions specifically targeted for people with lived experience and helping to foster a work environment where a person’s lived experience is valued. Those with lived experience will have a significant role in the development, design, and implementation of new programs.

COSU is a countywide collaboration of local organizations that work across the continuum of substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery to address the impacts of opioid and other substance use. HCRS is the fiscal agent for this program. Organizational membership currently includes HCRS, Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center, Groundworks Collaborative Windham County Prevention Partnership, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Greater Falls Connections, Habit OPCO, Youth Services, Grace Cottage Hospital, AIDS Project of Southern Vermont, Brattleboro Retreat, Turning Point of Windham County, Vermont Department of Health, and the Vermont State Police.

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