WILMINGTON, MA — Town Manager Jeff Hull recently introduced the Wilmington’s new Substance Abuse Program Coordinator — Samantha Reif — at a Board of Selectmen Meeting earlier this month.
“Samantha has been a great addition to the town’s team,” began Town Manager Jeff Hull. “It’s been a bit of a struggle in terms of the process that we’ve gone through to get to this point, but I’m certainly confident with Samantha’s skills and background, we’ll begin to address the issue of substance abuse and mental health to a greater degree than we’ve previously been able to.”
According to the town, Reif comes to Wilmington after serving in a similar capacity with the Somerville Police Department focusing on mental health and substance abuse issues. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work with dual minors in Psychology and Sociology from Syracuse University and a Master’s Degree in Advanced Social Work from Boston University.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity. Going into my third week here, I’ve met some good people and made some good community connections,” Reif told Selectmen. “I’m excited for the potential this position has and the positive response the community has given it. We’re off the grounds in running.”
Reif will work with the Police Department as they assist those struggling with mental health and substance abuse. She’ll also coordinate with the Elderly Services Department, Veterans Services Department, and the Health Department, as well as the School Department, in assisting any victims of substance abuse that are come across.
“Samantha was thrust right into the mix on her first day as we had a couple of overdose deaths of the weekend,” said Police Chief Michael Begonis. “In speaking with the officers who were there with her, they said she had a very unique way about her, sat down with family members and engaged them directly. She brought a special element – a personal touch – that we’ve been yearning for with the Police Department.”
“The unique part of Wilmington is we don’t wait until you overdose. We want to be there before you get to that stage — at the front end of it — communicating with you and your family, giving vital information, education and assistance for whatever is needed,” added Begonis, who noted the town is turning its attention to closing the “gaps” in the treatment process for residents, allowing for a quicker transition from detox to long-term rehab.
“This is a large investment our community has made and I think it will be worthwhile,” said Selectman Greg Bendel, who complimented Reif on spending more than five hours at the recent Brady Foundation’s Run For Recovery 5K in town. “You’re a great addition to our town.”
“I think this position will be well worth it. If you can save one or two lives, you’ve done your job,” said Selectman Mike McCoy, who thanked the Chief for convincing him that a full-time position was best, instead of taking a regional approach and sharing a position amongst other nearby towns.
“I’m super glad to hear that you’re working with a lot of the other department heads,” noted Selectman Ed Loud. “[Each Selectman] supported this position… If you need us, we’re here for you.”
“The truth is, I wish it wasn’t necessary for you to be here. It’s regrettable that our society requires your services, but I’m glad we have you to perform them,” said Selectman Mike Champoux. “Frankly, if you can have an impact that saves one life then your existence in this town is more than well paid for.”
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