WESTFORD — With the help of American Rescue Plan Act funding, the Town of Westford has hired a new Community Wellness Coordinator – a new position to coordinate the town’s mental health resources.
Westford’s two Community Health and Wellness Coordinators
Nicole Laviolette, with over 20 years of non-profit social service and family and youth services experience, was hired as Westford’s new Community Wellness Coordinator in June.
“I was very excited to be offered this position,” Laviolette told WestfordCAT. “This position has a focus on education and outreach.”
This position is separate from Westford’s existing Regional Community Health and Wellness Coordinator, Brittany Nash. Nash’s position was funded through a Department of Public Health Regional Excellence Grant, where she divides her time between Westford’s Health Department, Acton, Lowell and Dracut.
Nash works to cater her work to all four communities. She is currently working with officials in Acton on opioid overdose training, and hopes to eventually expand that offering to Westford.
“I try to keep it as a shared between all four because mainly everything I do should be catered for all four,” Nash told WestfordCAT. “Substance use and mental health are my main targets.”
Nash is also spearheading a community health assessment for the Westford Health Department, according to Health Director Rae Dick.
Laviolette looks to expand communication outreach
Laviolette’s position serves Westford exclusively, and falls under the purview of the Town Manager’s office. So far, Laviolette has been assessing the needs of each town department as she begins to curate her programming and outreach.
“I’ve met with almost every department and asked what they see as a void or a need, what things need to be brought to the community or is it an education of what is already here,” she said.
One of her main goals, she says, is to increase communication to residents. She notes that her first step has been to create a web-based resource where residents would have access to services and emergency resources.
“Westford has an amazing abundance of people wanting to support one another. I think it’s just tapping into that and streamlining communication,” she said.
Laviolette noted that though she’d like to begin offering programming as soon as possible, she’s taking a measured approach to properly address town needs.
“I’m trying to learn whatever the unique needs of this community are, we want to make sure we’re addressing those needs,” she said. “We want to lay a foundation so this is a positive movement for the town so we’re not rushing into things.”
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