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MCSOC efforts awarded

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

The 17th annual Indiana Systems of Care Conference took place on June 14 and Miami County received some special recognition.

SOC peers came together to award the Miami County SOC with the Rebecca Buhner Award for its excellency and devotion to the community.

“The Rebecca Buhner Award is really an excellence in leadership through Systems of Care values and assisting community youth and families,” said local systems coordinator for the Systems of Care Governance Coalition Antonia Sawyer.

Miami County SOC provides programs in the community for individuals struggling with addiction and mental illness.

According to Sawyer, this is the second year Miami County SOC has been nominated for the award and Sawyer was shocked when they won.

“You don’t do what you do to get awards, but it’s always nice to get recognition,” Sawyer said.

Miami County SOC was nominated for three awards in total including the Youth and Family Award, the Jessica McCartney Award and the Rebecca Buhner Award.

The Miami County chapter won the award because of their work in the community which is a huge honor, according to Sawyer.

“To be able to be a model community for all the other Systems of Care across the state is pretty exciting,” Sawyer said.

The Rebecca Buhner Award is also significant because it’s peer nominated, which means the community had to come together to nominate Miami County SOC for recognition.

“That it’s peer nominated is also pretty special because it shows that the community members are seeing the work that we’re doing and recognizing that,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer hopes this award shows other Systems of Care entities across Indiana that it’s possible to get stakeholders to the table, implement steps and be proactive within the community.

Through Miami County SOC’s monthly stakeholder meetings, the group has been able to provide so much for the community, including transportation efforts and tackling topics suchs as homelessness and generational poverty.

“Not only are we focusing on substance abuse and mental health access, but we’re also focusing on the risk factors associated with substance abuse and mental health so we can try to multi-prong our approach so that we’re more successful,” Sawyer said.

Despite winning the Rebecca Buhner Award for their impact on the community, Sawyer doesn’t plan to stop trying to make an effort.

She said Miami County SOC’s 36-month strategic plan ends in about a year which means new things will be in the works for the SOC.

“We’re really going to focus on how to incorporate more youth and families into the coalition,” Sawyer said.

Everything Miami County SOC has done so far has been driven by data collected from a needs assessment back in January 2017.

There are several questions Sawyer is asking herself as she thinks about the future of Miami County SOC and what they can bring to the community.

“How do we get newer data, incorporate more family voice and identify some continued top leads while continuing with our program,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer also hopes to bring more harm reduction programs to Miami County in an effort to drive down substance abuse overall within the community.

The Rebecca Buhner Award is a state recognition that has only fueled Sawyer’s passion to help those in the community who are struggling with mental health or substance addiction.

Sawyer sends her gratitude and thanks to the community and stakeholders for taking a chance and having faith in Miami County SOC.

She says the group has been able to work together and put the community’s best interest first.

“It’s all them. I am nobody without them,” Sawyer said. “It’s all of us together as a team.”

Sawyer hopes to continue to make a lasting impact in the community and show people that it is possible be proactive.

“Just continue to challenge the status quo and ourselves and see what we can become,” Sawyer said.