Harm reduction services coming to Tazewell County thanks to local church and Peoria nonprofit
The JOLT Foundation of Peoria is partnering with the Pekin Community of Christ Church to bring harm reduction services to Tazewell County.
Starting this week, the JOLT Foundation will offer services from 2-5 p.m. Fridays at the church's old parish house, 1615 Market St.
JOLT plans to operate the satellite office for about three months and may extend that timeline if needed, director Chris Schaffner said.
Rural communities have unique needs when it comes to harm reduction services, Schaffner said; while Peoria sees high rates of heroin and crack-cocaine use, rural communities are grappling with users injecting methamphetamine.
Seeing a need in their community, church leaders in Pekin reached out to Jolt about partnering, Schaffner said.
"Our rural communities are underserved much like our inner cities are underserved, but some of the systemic issues out in the country are different than what we see in the city," he said. "And the drug trends ... are a little bit different as well."
Recently, Tazewell County has seen a significant increase in fatal overdoses, Schaffner added.
"You also think about the transportation barriers for folks who live in rural communities," he said. "Having a site that's closer to them, that they can access with bus routes, or getting rides that are closer to home."
JOLT's services are private and confidential and are in no way religious, Schaffner added. "There is no religious bait-and-switch," he said. "They're just letting us use their space."
JOLT's overall mission is to provide comprehensive harm reduction services to people who use and/or inject drugs, are engaged in sex work, are experiencing homelessness or for anyone experiencing marginalization.
Harm reduction and overdose prevention services include testing for HIV, Hepatitis and other STIs, overdose reversal kits, fentanyl test strips, suboxone and more.
JOLT also is currently dispersing COVID-19 resources to people affected by the pandemic.
Parents Blake and Dr. Tamara Olt created the Jolt Foundation after their 16-year-old son Joshua died from a heroin overdose in 2012.
Learn more online.