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Investing in Community & Recovery

Combating Crisis through Caring

City Lifestyle - Kim Slade of The City of Westfield Health Department

Kim Slade is here to help raise awareness on safety, education, and action surrounding substance use here in the City of Westfield. Armed with years’ experience in prevention and harm reduction, Kim has a heart of gold and is here as an asset to the town’s Health Department and the community it serves.

Q: Introduce yourself! Who are you and what is your WHY?

A: Military spouse, mom of two, and grandmom of one. I’ve lived all over the country: from Alaska (twice) to Charleston, South Carolina, as well as North Carolina and Virginia Beach. I’ve even lived in Cape Cod and New Mexico. I love traveling and trying new foods thanks to my exposure to a mosaic of people, places, and cultures across the country. Most importantly, family, friends, and my community come first. It feels right being here. It means so much to finally be settled somewhere where there’s such diversity.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work?

A: After moving to Kodiak Island in Alaska in 2012, I was fortunate to help a hospital as the Community Coordinator. Here I focused on Substance Use with special care to youth, obesity, and suicide. We invented programs that were based on evidence and used grassroots to tackle these issues at the core. This included working with military personnel located on the Coast Guard base for suicide prevention and how to identify and respond to others in crisis. After a 5-day ferry from Kodiak to Washington, a drive down the Pacific Coast and across the southern states, we landed in Cape Cod where I worked with Barnstable County for six years in Substance Use Prevention & Harm Reduction. Covering fifteen towns throughout Cape Cod, we specialized in securing Bureau of Substance Abuse (BSAS) grants even during the pandemic.

Q: What is a Substance Use Outreach Coordinator? Who are the parties you engage with?

A: It depends on the needs of the community. For Westfield, it’s my wheelhouse to assess the overall landscape, which includes identifying gaps in resources as well as engaging community members and organizations to help form strategic plans. We will talk with elected officials,  treatment and harm reduction centers, housing, schools, youth support, law enforcement, and the media. These conversations set the tone to ensure community members have equitable access to quality resources that coincide with major social determinants of health. These aspects include health care, social and community contexts, the neighborhood and built environments, access to education, and economic stability.

Q: How are you here to help shape the health of Westfield?

A: It’s my goal to connect with the community and help identify strategies to address using the Opioid Settlement Funds in a way that specifically meets the needs of our community. It must be tailored to the local community because what works for us might not work for somewhere else.


 

Q: What are you looking to achieve in your newly appointed position?

A: It’s important to implement the strategies that help strengthen the capacity of our community as a whole in ways that are sustainable. This process is nonlinear: once the implementation phase arrives, it is vital to troubleshoot what isn't working and to be open to adjusting what will work better.

Q: What would you like the Community of Westfield to be aware of?

A: Many community members want to see movement now, others want to build up community engagement, and still some want every piece of the puzzle to be in place before action is taken. We’re looking at both short- and long-term strategies: those that can be implemented quickly to take action now as well as sustainable strategies that address the community as a whole instead of one specific aspect.

Q: What are common misconceptions about this role or mission?

A: This role is not a one-on-one counselor or social worker, but instead a bridge between city officials, residents, and community organizations. We believe relationship cultivation is key and that you need to build relations to have community readiness and love. This process is community-driven and deliberate; we are trying to do what’s right for the community.

Q: What are the benefits for a city who invests in a Substance Use Coordinator?

A: The community can leverage someone who is a liaison to service providers across the continuum, and is skilled in assessing strategic planning and will implement evidence-based practices that are tailored to meet the needs of our local community.

Q: Where can we find out more information about current efforts?

A: We are revamping the official City ‘Substance Use’ pages online with a landing page dedicated to information on the Opioid Settlement Funds. This should include an expenditure dashboard for spending, key data from conversations, updates for community members, and additional information for how to get involved.

Q: What type of feedback would be useful and relevant from residents?

A: We’d love to hear how residents feel the settlement funds could be best used as well as new approaches to think outside the box. Think big! We are seeking to pursue quality initiatives in order to address substance use.

Q: How are Westfield residents invited to collaborate? How can people interested take action?

A: Community members are encouraged to fill out the online survey (), join community listening sessions,  and call or send emails to us here in the Health Department.

Q:  Will there be an upcoming Community Engagement workshop?

A: Yes! Keep tuned for dates on the website or contact the Health Department directly.

Q: It’s the year 2124: What does Westfield look like from your standpoint?

A: I see Westfield as a recovery-friendly community full of support: friends, family, and businesses that accept others without judgment. This includes equitable access for all, discouraging stigmas, and encouraging healthy language.


 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Name: Kim Slade

Email: kimberly.slade@cityofwestfield.org

Phone: (413) 572-6334

Address: 59 Court St 210D

Name: Deb Mulvenna

Email: d.mulvenna@cityofwestfield.org

Phone: (413) 572-6213

Address: 59 Court St

My family, friends and community come first. 

This role is not a one-on-one counselor or social worker, but instead a bridge between city officials, residents, and community organizations.

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