The Merrimack Valley Project’s Wheels of Hope, a regional transportation program that gives free rides to drug treatment, rehabilitation and recovery centers throughout the state, recently reached a significant milestone by providing its 600th ride this year.
Through mid-September, Wheels of Hope had provided 602 rides to 280 individuals. The program was originally planned as a six-month pilot in 2020 between Lawrence-based Merrimack Valley Project; Boston-based Health Resources in Action, which operates the Massachusetts Helpline; and Lowell-based Lucos Transportation.
“The lives of many people of the Merrimack Valley have been devastated by the opioid crisis,” said Amy Tuneburg, a licensed independent social worker who works in the Merrimack Valley. “Transportation to treatment has been a long-standing gap and Wheels of Hope does an excellent job filling that gap. Wheels of Hope now provides essential transportation to folks looking to engage in recovery when they need it and is helping to break down barriers to treatment for those people who are ready.”
Initial money for the program came from a $150,000 state senate budget amendment championed by Sens. Diana DiZoglio and Ed Kennedy. The program was relaunched this year thanks to another $75,000 amendment by DiZoglio and Kennedy as well as grant funding from both the National Institute of Health’s HEALing Communities Study and the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Combating Opioid Overdose Through Community-level Intervention Initiative.
Those who wish to take advantage of the free service may call the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline at 800-327-5050 or visit HelplineMA.org/WheelsofHope to learn more. In-person and virtual bilingual trainings may also be provided by Health Resources in Action by emailing Elizabeth at [email protected].