FirstLink is here to provide a listening ear and help connect you to resources. CARING CONTACT COMMUNITY NAVIGATOR: Reducing Barriers to Treatment through Community Collaboration The community navigator program continues to build upon the framework laid by the Mayors’ Blue Ribbon Commission to enhance coordination and improve access to substance use treatment and recovery support. The program’s demonstrated success and steady growth have emboldened our community partners to engage in meaningful discussions. Some of these discussions have centered around improving processes to alleviate constraints, or “bottlenecks” as they are often called. Some are aimed at reducing the shame and stigma that prevent people from seeking help. Still others are utilizing FirstLink’s resource directory and community navigator services to provide ongoing support and linkage to basic needs like stable housing, employment, and peer support.
In addition to the work we are doing with community stakeholders, the community navigator continues to be an agent of support for people seeking help. Between calls to our helpline and community navigator contacts, FirstLink provides listening and support for hundreds of individuals with substance use concerns. Although most calls to the community navigator are from people seeking help for themselves, 24% of callers are concerned about a loved one. We also get calls from providers, sometimes seeking to refer a patient and other times calling to receive up-to-date information on resources. We welcome any and all calls, and those calling during evening or weekend hours will still get support from our trained call specialists as well as a call back from the community navigator within one business day. As FirstLink prepares to take over after-hours answering for seven more human service center regions, we are looking at how this will impact call volume and referrals for the community navigator. We are reaching out
FirstLink’s Caring Contact Team has been fortunate enough to secure funding from partnering hospitals to keep providing this valuable resource for the 2020 year, and we hope to use these funds to expand the program. So far this year, the Caring Contact team has received over 500 referrals, sent over 350 handwritten caring cards, and made over 2,600 outgoing calls to participants! Despite the growing concern of COVID-19, the Caring Contact Team is still operating as normal by providing listening, support, and follow-up for individuals in our community. We will keep phone lines open and continue to provide support and resources for those in need.
to providers across the state of North Dakota to explore interest in a partnership with the community navigator program. We are also working with our technical support team to develop tools to share information on program capacity and coordinate referrals. We are so excited about all the possibilities that the future holds for the community navigator program! If you would like more information or to learn how you can be an agent for change in your community, please contact FirstLink by dialing 2-1-1 or calling (701) 235-7335.
A letter from Executive Director
We never know what life may throw at us, and boy, did we get a curve ball this time! As we all navigate this frightening and confusing time together, I am doing my best to look at the positives: families are spending more time together, people are checking in on each other, and we are coping together as a community. I want to remind everyone that if you are struggling and need resources, or you just need to talk, you can always call or text us at FirstLink. We are here for you. Also, if you know of someone who is alone or is dealing with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts, check in with them. Remind them that they can call us, because together we will get through this. We had planned our “Celebrate 50 Years with FirstLink” breakfast for May 6th, but we will no longer be able to hold a face-to-face meeting. Instead, we will hold a virtual fundraising event on May 6th at 8:30 a.m. We can all still “come
together right now”…you and me (sound like a song you know?) You can register for this BYOD (bring your own donut) event at myfirstlink.org/events. Cost to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event is $25 per person and includes a gift card for two of Sandy’s famous donuts. We will mail the gift card to you. Sign up now, you won’t want to miss this! Jodee Bock and Mark Lindquist, two nationally known local personalities, will be our speakers. Thank you Jodee and Mark! If you have any questions, please call or email me. Although it will be a little unconventional, we hope to thank you for 50 years of supporting FirstLink.
Cindy Miller FirstLink’s Executive Director
COMMUNITY RESOURCE TEAM UPDATE During the first quarter of 2020, the Community Resource Team has been busy brainstorming ways to make our online resource directory easily available and simple to use. To make it easier to search the online directory and find appropriate resources, FirstLink has begun developing filters to apply when searching. The ability to filter searches will launch in May 2020! To ensure that FirstLink is always providing the most accurate information, agencies within our directory of resources must review and provide changes to their listing annually. FirstLink is taking steps to remain environmentally conscious by promoting online updating rather than updating via mail each year. If you represent an agency or program in our directory, please connect with us to learn more about online updating. We hope that this new process will make updating faster, simpler, and greener! As a designated essential service, FirstLink will remain open and operational during local and national disasters or crises, like the current situation related to COVID-19. We will also maintain an updated list of changes or closures to other agencies providing valuable services during this time. Do not hesitate to call 2-1-1 or visit our website for resources, temporary updates, or a listening ear.
TRAINING UPDATE As our supporters might expect, FirstLink has had to cancel many of our upcoming trainings and presentations as a result of COVID-19. We will begin offering trainings once the CDC deems it safe to gather in groups larger than 10. As always, these trainings will be listed on the events page of our website: myfirstlink. org/events. In the meantime, we are working on some virtual trainings and tutorials. Check out our social media for a training video on how to use our online directory to locate resources in your area!
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years of firstlink’s virtual celebration HELP US CELEBRATE 50 YEARS FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME!
8:30 a.m. Register on our website, $25/person. This includes a gift card for two Sandy’s donuts. (Because it is a BYOD event.)
Sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime event featuring jodee bock and mark lindquist.
Register now at
P.O. Box 447 Fargo, ND 58107-0447
Need Resources and Support? Dial
2-1-1 or (701)-235-7335 Thoughts of Suicide? National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 answered locally by FirstLink
SUCCESS STORIES Thanks for calling me to check on me. I’m thankful to be part of the Caring Contact program.
COVID-19 is scary. I am temporarily laid off from my job, and I can’t sleep at night. I needed someone to talk to—thanks for being there for me.
The workshop gave me the confidence to reach out to a friend and see how she was doing. Thank you!
While buying supplies at a local store, the cashier noticed I was wearing a FirstLink logo on my shirt. She told me that FirstLink saved her life. She was feeling very low and thinking of suicide, so she called and was empowered to make a safety plan to continue.