opioid crisis

Groton to Consider Allocating Settlement Funding to Community Speaks Out

The Groton-based nonprofit has been helping people access treatment and recovery since 2015.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The town of Groton is looking to allocate more than $100,000 in opioid settlement funding to a local nonprofit helping people in recovery.

Community Speaks Out is a Groton-based organization that helps families and people who are struggling with addiction to find the resources they need to get into recovery.

Tammy de la Cruz co-founded the organization in 2015 after her son, Joey, shared his own story of addiction and recovery at his high school. The organization has been working in the community ever since.

"It is maintaining recovery and what does that look like?" said de la Cruz. "We are creating a space where we have activities for them to do. They have to fill their time with healthy things that make them just feel normal."

De la Cruz said that one of the organization's main goals is to create a recovery friendly community. She estimates that the organization impacted thousands of people in 2022 and now, with a growing need in the community, they would like to expand out of their small office space. In order to expand, the all-volunteer organization needs funding.

The town of Groton is looking to allocate funds to Community Speaks Out. This year, the town received $112,907 as part of a multi-state $26 billion settlement with opioid distributors. Towns and cities are expected to receive approximately $300 million over the next 18 years through the settlement.

On Tuesday night, the Groton Town Council will consider a resolution to award the money from years two and three of the town's settlement funding to Community Speaks Out. The council previously awarded Community Speaks Out the town's settlement funding from year one, $22,263. The town received $112,907 for year two of the settlement.

The year three funding has not been finalized, but will likely be higher than year two, Groton's town manager said.

"It is absolutely money that is designed to do this," said de la Cruz. "To make a difference in the community. To help people who are struggling with opioid addiction.”

De la Cruz said the funding would help them move into a new space and expand their outreach. She said they would also reach out to the recovery community to see where they are hitting roadblocks and how the funding could help.

Mike Doyle oversees the recovery coach program at Reliance Health, which recently received federal funding to hire two new coaches and expand their reach across eastern CT. Reliance Health recently started collaborating more with Community Speaks Out. Doyle also joined the board of the organization in December.

After a record number of overdose deaths during the pandemic, Doyle said he has seen the need for a community program like Community Speaks Out to expand.

“I did a Narcan training in here with 30 people and it could have been 50 if we had a bigger space," Doyle said. "There is definitely a need."

Madison Howard is one of the recovery coaches who works with Reliance Health, but she also knows firsthand how impactful Community Speaks Out can be.

"It means hope," Howard said. "It has completely changed my life.”

Howard said her life looked a lot different six years ago. She was battling addiction and felt like she had no hope. Her mom learned about Community Speaks Out through the radio.

When Howard was ready, Community Speaks Out guided her and her mother through the process of accessing treatment and entering recovery.

Howard has been sober for six years and is now a mother of two children - a place in life that she always dreamed of being, but never thought was attainable.

This place provided me a light out of that darkness," Howard said.

Howard echoed Doyle's sentiment on the need for more resources in the community.

De la Cruz said the funding would allow them to touch more lives. She is hoping for an unanimous vote from the town council.

"This would help us to help others," said de la Cruz.

The town council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

Contact Us