The grass roots movement formerly known as ‘Enough is Enough’ continues to keep the nationwide opioid problem in the spotlight with several events planned across the summer months. The group, now known as Yukwatsistay^, is also hoping to move onto the former DeCaster property on Hillcrest Drive in the near future to open a sober gathering place for people striving to get clean and sober.
Yukwatsistay^, which translates to “Our Fire, Our Spirit Within Each of Us,” has been working with the Oneida Nation’s Tribal Action Plan (TAP) committee to not only continue to raise awareness of the opioid problem but to gain tangible, near-term solutions to the problem. “The plan is to be open daily and provide support to people,” Yukwatsistay^ Treasurer Debra Valentino said. “That’s basically who we are. We’ll try to have resources available for people because right now there simply aren’t enough counselors available for people who need to talk.”
For the time being the group is looking at the move into the large, detached garage located at 431 Hillcrest Dr. as a one year pilot initiative. “At this point we’re just looking to see how the community utilizes us,” Valentino said. “Once we’re opened we’ll only be accepting women but we are working on solutions to get a place for men to go as well. We’ll be leasing the garage for a year to see how effective we can be and hopefully help the TAP program along.”
Yukwatsistay^ is partnering with Darjune, a Green Bay-area recovery group, that also hopes to move into the vacant house at the same location to provide an assisted living facility for people detoxing from drugs.
“I think Darjune was a good choice for us to partner up with,” Frank Vandehei, Yukwatsistay^ and Darjune board member, said. “They have the groundwork for this already laid out. Deb and I have already taken recovery coach training to ensure we aren’t telling people things that aren’t going to help. Darjune has a really good program going and it’s well received in Brown County with the police department and the drug courts. This is what the tribe is missing right now and this would be a great way for the tribe to help lead the way.”
“We want to be able to help those who need help right now,” Yukwatsistay^ board member Kermit Valentino said. “That’s the whole purpose of what we’re doing. We’re all volunteers doing this and holding fund raisers to help people the way they need to be helped.”
Cultural events and elder speakers are part of what the group plans to employ for support. “We aren’t experts on everything so we’ll be looking to utilize everybody in the community,” Debra said. “People in recovery need to keep busy so we’ll have meetings and we recently planted a community garden as well.”
“That’s another good thing about partnering with Darjune,” Francine Valentino, another Yukwatsistay^ board member said. “We want to have as many resources as possible because not one thing works for every individual. So it’s up to the individual what they want to do because ultimately their recovery is completely up to them.”
“This will also help anybody who’s looking to get into a 28-day program because usually the first week or so in a program like that is spent getting their mind right,” Vandehei said. “This will help with that before they go in so they can get the most out of that short program.”
“The best help an addict can get is from somebody who’s been where they are and felt what they’re feeling,” Kermit said. “And once somebody completes a program they’re on their own after that. That’s where we’re trying to come in.”
Yukwatsistay^ will once again host a walk through several neighborhoods to raise awareness of the opioid crisis on Thursday, July 5, beginning at 5 p.m. “We’ll be meeting at the top of the hill across from the 54 One Stop,” Francine said. “We’re also going to have a ‘community appreciation day’ on July 7 from 12-5 p.m. at the Oneida Volunteer Fire Department on Hwy H. We’ll have food, games, prizes and a Visa Gift Card raffle. We don’t want our community to get used to planning funerals. So if there’s anything community members can do to volunteer and help these efforts it would be most appreciated.”
For information on how to volunteer with any of the planned events or with the group itself, feel free to contact Yukwatsistay^ Treasurer Debra Valentino at (773) 719-0084.