County’s Color 5K Raises $110K for COPE Program to help fight opioid and heroin abuse

Chester County Commissioners Josh Maxwell (top row, far right), Marian Moskowitz (bottom row, fourth from right), and Michelle Kichline (bottom row, fourth from left) present a check for $110,000, representing the funds raised by the 2023 Chester County Color 5K. Accepting the check are Chester County’s Deputy Director of Drug & Alcohol Services, Kate Kinsley (bottom row, third from right), Color 5K presenting sponsor John R. Gailey III (top row, second from right), members of the COPE team, and staff from Drug & Alcohol and its Advisory Board.

The 2023 Chester County Color 5K, held in October at Exton Park and the Chester Valley Trail, raised $110,000 for the County’s COPE – Community Outreach Prevention and Education – program to help in the fight against opioid and heroin addiction. Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline presented a check to Kate Kinsley, Deputy Director of the County’s Department of Drug & Alcohol Services (D&A), at today’s public meeting, saying that COPE is a life-saving program for those suffering from substance use disorder.

COPE provides 24/7 support to overdose survivors and their families at hospital emergency rooms throughout the county. Trained peer specialists make a personal connection to survivors in the emergency room and encourage them to enter treatment immediately following discharge from the hospital. The program also supplies overdose prevention and outreach information to first responders, hospital staff, and families of overdose survivors.

Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, whose efforts to address the opioid and heroin epidemic led to the introduction of the Color 5K in 2016, said, “The Color 5K is one of the proudest accomplishments during my years as commissioner because the money raised has made a real difference in the lives of so many in our community. The race brings people with shared lived experiences together with those who support the County’s efforts to fight substance use disorders, and it’s that community spirit that has made the Color 5K such a success, of which the COPE program is a direct beneficiary.”

“There’s a banner at every Color 5K race that people sign in memory or support of loved ones or friends, and it’s quite moving to read all the messages because you realize the pervasiveness of substance use disorders,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “But thanks to the generosity of many sponsors, including The John Gailey and JoEllen Berger Charitable Fund, the nearly $400,000 collected over the years for Chester County’s highly effective COPE program has directly impacted people in crisis and helped guide them towards treatment. So, whether you donated or ran, we thank everyone who participated in the Color 5K.”

Chester County also addresses the opioid crisis through its Overdose Prevention Task Force, whose mission is to prevent overdose deaths through a multidisciplinary, coordinated effort between government departments, community organizations, and treatment providers. The County’s departments of D&A, Health, Human Services, and the District Attorney’s Office lead the Task Force, along with Good Fellowship Ambulance and EMS Training Institute.

Commissioner Josh Maxwell noted, “Chester County is committed to helping people with substance use disorder find support, get into treatment, and lead productive lives. We have numerous paths to treatment, making it more likely for individuals to find the one that works for them. Most importantly, Chester County knows that recovery is possible because it happens every day thanks to the work and support of many, many individuals and organizations.”

In 2022, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office and D&A introduced the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI),  a joint effort between law enforcement and substance use treatment providers to save lives and reduce crime and recidivism. LETI provides an alternative option to law enforcement for people with substance use disorder who commit low-level, non-violent crimes to get treatment instead of punishment. Individuals can also contact a member of law enforcement to ask for a referral or to be connected to treatment with no threat of arrest or prosecution.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, help is available. Call the Drug & Alcohol Information and Referral at 1-866-286-3767 or Get Help Now, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-800-662-4357.

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