I knew that the delivery of the Hope One Mobile Unit in March was going to be an exciting event. Born out of USDA Rural Development’s (USDA RD) partnership with the Hansen Foundation, the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office and AtlantiCare, and with the help of a $134,000 Community Facilities Grant in the summer of 2018, Hope One was expected to be staffed by medical and law enforcement personnel who would provide recovery services to people struggling with opioid addiction.
But as the event neared, the COVID-19 crisis had become a priority. Like so many other people and organizations during this time, we adjusted our plans and shifted our priorities. The Hope One team quickly adapted to the new circumstances unveiled it on April 25 as a COVID-19 Atlantic County testing site.
In the coming weeks, the vehicle served as a Command Center for COVID-19 Atlantic County residents, with 20 staffers on site. The team was comprised of personnel from the Division of Public Health, Office of Emergency Preparedness and Public Works, as well as the Sheriff’s Office and AtlantiCare. Non-medical staff assisted with traffic, set-up, and operations while health care workers performed the actual testing.
The vehicle itself is striking. The exterior has a purple ribbon, which signifies recovery—and is emblazoned with “HOPE ONE.” It is also practical, as a 24-hour contact number lets callers seeking assistance for opioid addiction connect with recovery services. The callers’ information is immediately passed on to the Hope One team. The caller then learns of recovery services for placement and connections to available services to meet their immediate needs. The mobile unit can then meet the family or caller on site to assist with these services.
When we began working on the Hope One project, we had no idea it would be used to save lives and keep people healthy and safe during a pandemic. The fact that it transitioned to a new, vital role in service of its community so quickly is a testament to the dedication and talent of everyone involved. I couldn’t be prouder. Though its mission has changed, Hope One is serving during this pandemic in a way worthy of its name.
Hope One is just another example of what USDA Rural Development and our partners know in our hearts: Together, America prospers.