The REAL Community Project, or simply REAL, (Referrals, Education, Action, Love) is an initiative to engage faith communities in the Helena area to prevent substance abuse and make the Helena area safer and healthier for kids and families. This will be accomplished through referrals for services, an educational conference providing resources to faith leaders, and a volunteer fair to inform the public  about opportunities where they can provide service to the community.

Faith leaders are often trusted and respected by those in their community. They tend to be one of the first places people turn in times of need. By equipping these faith leaders with knowledge about the issues surrounding drugs and alcohol in the community and tangible ways to help prevent substance abuse, Helena can become a safer place for everyone.

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Referrals

The CONNECT Referral System is an online system that allows multiple referrals to be made across sectors with one online application. With the faith community as part of the system, they have a tangible way to connect people needing services to the organizations and agencies that can help. With a single application, the faith community can ensure people can be connected to help which gives everyone peace of mind. In Lewis and Clark County, as of September 2018, there are 58 agencies on the system, across multiple disciplines and service types. The service provider follows up with the person directly so it takes the pressure off of the person going through a crisis to make the connection. This is a simple way for the faith communities to join together with other organizations in the Helena area to make the community a better place.

For more information about the CONNECT System, or if you have any questions, please visit www.connectmontana.org or contact the CONNECT Referral Coordinator, Megan Grotzke at [email protected]

Education

A Facebook group will be created for faith leaders to share ideas and discuss what they are doing in their faith communities surrounding the REAL Community Project. It will also be a space for Youth Connections to share more information regarding drugs and alcohol in the community as well as the various aspects and events that are a part of REAL.

The REAL Community Forum is a conference that will take place in winter of 2019. It will be a time for faith leaders to come together to learn about the current issues facing the Helena community. Speakers at the REAL Community Forum will include law enforcement, judicial members, mental health professionals, and others who actively work on the issue of substance use in the Helena area on a daily basis. More information will be posted here as the Forum approaches.

Action

Following the REAL Forum, there will be a community-wide service fair where congregants and community members can come to learn how they can make a REAL difference. Local organizations will provide opportunities for those wanting to take action. By creating a volunteer network for the various nonprofit organizations in Helena, they will be better able to act out their missions and work together to make a healthier and safer Helena area. More information will be shared here as the service fair approaches.

All of the faith leaders and other members of the faith community will be encouraged to pray/meditate about the work being done through REAL.

Love

Loving other people is both an important part of faith communities as well as the heart of the REAL Community Project. Everything that is done through the REAL Project should be done in love.

If you have questions or are interested in participating to make REAL impact in the Helena area, please email Rachel at [email protected]. Please use #REALHelena when talking about the REAL Community Project on social media!

A huge thanks to our sponsors for their support of the REAL Community Project!