Volunteer for CIC

Community in Crisis depends on the time and talent of wonderful volunteers to support them on a project by project basis or on an ongoing basis.

Skillsets and interests are matched with the volunteer work involved. All volunteer hours can count towards community service. Volunteers from middle school and up are welcome to apply to volunteer with Community in Crisis by emailing info@communityincrisis.org. We are always thrilled to hear from you!

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Volunteer Spotlight

Lauren Luik

If you only heard some of what Lauren Luik has accomplished working in the healthcare field, you would immediately be impressed. As an experienced health communication professional, Lauren continues to lead the conversation in the importance of mental health resources throughout northern New Jersey.

Lauren currently serves as a Trustee for Community in Crisis and has dedicated her time in numerous ways. She volunteers on the fundraising committee and, as the Chair of the Governance Committee, hosts the CiC executive board appreciation dinner, helps with public outreach, connects CiC with US Congressman Tom Malinowski, and chairs a project that encourages physicians to implement routine screening of youth for substance use disorder (SUD).

Prior to her involvement in CiC, she was instrumental in having mental health resources established at the Somerset Hills YMCA. After an incident similar to the two 2013 overdoses that motivated CiC to start, this was the driving force that started a conversation on mental health. This conversation also continued with CiC.

“All we do by not talking about [substance use disorder] is increase the stigma and fear and misunderstanding around these conditions that are health problems just like any other,” Lauren says. “Until we start conversing about them and helping people understand that there are resources available to them to get help, all we’re doing is perpetuating the problem.”

Although CiC has grown since it first started, Lauren says that CiC still maintains the feeling of a true grassroots organization that is approachable while also possessing a professional atmosphere, making it an organization that can properly enact change.

“My experience with Community in Crisis confirmed and affirmed some things that I had seen, but it underscored, you know, the truth of some basic principles of successful community organizations – and when I say successful, [I mean] organizations that can actually effect change.”

Because of her strong background in healthcare communications, Lauren has recognized the need for organizations to find a balance between listening to their communities while also having strong practices.

Lauren says. “…You have to rely on best practices, on good science, on good data, on experts and Community in Crisis has always been very, very professional and strong in how they’ve done that.”

Lauren doesn’t spread herself thin anymore when it comes to volunteering. However, she willingly continues to dedicate her time to CiC because it’s an organization that she “really believes in.”

Lauren Luik

Alison Schreiner

When you meet Alison Schreiner, you are immediately taken by her warm personality. The more you get to know her, you realize that she is one of the most caring people you will ever meet.

Alison has witnessed first-hand the effects substance misuse can have on people. One of her close friends’ sons is fighting substance use disorder (SUD). Alison attended Al-Anon meetings to help her friend cope with the challenges she faced because of her husband’s SUD – who later passed away. Around the same time, Alison and her sons saw a sign for the Community in Crisis bimonthly Acoustic Coffee House, a substance-free open-mic night for musicians and young adults in recovery; they knew that this is how they could get involved and help.

Alison and her family have volunteered their time ever since at the sober Acoustic Coffee House held monthly at the Community Hub. They have also helped with the CiC town hall and fundraiser. Her sons, Jack and Matt, volunteer with the Hub Club, a 6-week after school program for middle schoolers where kids do fun community service projects related to CiC’s mission while learning about making healthy choices and staying risk-averse to drugs at the same time.

Through their involvement in Hub Club, Jack and Matt have demonstrated the importance of youth leadership within CiC by being able to mentor the younger kids and serve as role models.

Matt also helped with CiC’s anti-vaping presentation. He was so moved by his experience with CiC that he wrote his high school senior thesis on the opioid crisis, substance misuse, and pain management.

Since getting involved, Alison said that she and her family’s perceptions of substance misuse have changed.

“We had this vision of addiction and what it looked like, and I think it has this bad rap. I mean people have viewed [a person fighting addiction] as this, like just a destitute person, homeless on the side of New York City. In reality, it’s everybody.”

Alison says that the coronavirus pandemic has been beneficial in a way because it has allowed people to slow down and realize that there is more to life than being constantly on-the-go.

“I think you get people who want to serve because they want to serve… I think that’s the reality,” she says. “Again, I think [the coronavirus pandemic] has really helped that in that people are seeing that there’s something bigger than themselves and that we all need to come together.

Schreiner

Chris Schroeder

Chris S. understands what people with substance use disorder endure from an experiential level. As a person in long-term recovery, he has dedicated his time to multiple organizations to share his experience with substance abuse and misuse.

He is active in recovery programs and is a recovery speaker for substance use disorder (SUD) recovery and has spoken on the national level. He has also been a board member of the New Jersey chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) since 2008.

Chris has volunteered with Community in Crisis since 2016. He was initially a part of the CiC task force to identify ways to best support individuals in recovery and provide crisis intervention to help people get access to treatment. Chris currently serves as a Trustee and member of the Recovery Support Task Force. According to Chris, he believes the benefit he brings to CiC is his personal experience with SUD, which also fueled his desire to give back.

“When I heard that there was an organization that was really trying to stop the overdose deaths…I would certainly do anything I can to help. I understand it at a level that maybe some other people don’t who are trying to help.”

Chris credits the people involved in CiC – regardless of whether they had a connection to the mission – for not letting the stigma surrounding SUD affect their willingness to volunteer and serve their community.

“What warmed my heart when I first joined Community in Crisis was that there are people who are not [people with substance use disorder], they’re not [people fighting addiction]. They don’t really have it in their life, yet they see the tragedy and the suffering that’s happening because of addictive illness…They wanted to do something about it.

CiC has also served a source of motivation for Chris because it advocates for people who are fighting or recovering from SUD, despite the stigma and it not receiving the proper attention it deserves.

“The people who started Community in Crisis had the courage to go where they were really needed.”

Chris Schroeder

Danette Lewis

As a mother of three sons, Danette Lewis wanted to become more involved in the community where her kids attend school. She lives 15 minutes away from their school, which sometimes makes her feel disconnected from what is going on in their school’s community.

Although Danette only joined CiC last fall, she says that her involvement has helped her gain a better understanding of what happens in the community. She paid attention to social media and saw a post one day that caught her interest. It was about the Community in Crisis Hub Club, a 6-week after school program for middle schoolers where kids do fun community service projects related to CiC’s mission while learning about making healthy choices and staying risk-averse to drugs at the same time, It was this program that she decided she’d like to volunteer and help run.

Danette works as a school counselor, which has been a huge benefit for her work with CiC, because it allows her to better understand what the kids are going through or where they might be coming from.

“I get energized from that, being in a place of teaching [young kids], offering something that, you know, will help better their lives [and] better their circumstances, and I’ve always loved giving back. That was a huge piece. The fact that I could work with students and also give back in the same setting was a plus for me.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Danette was recommended by CiC leaders for a Mental Health First Aid, a program that prepares parents, teachers, coaches, law enforcement, and others who live and work around kids to recognize the signs of youth who may be in crisis and how to handle the situation properly.

“I was very much interested in doing the program, and I felt privileged that they had recommended me,” Danette says.

Despite the pandemic, Danette believes that good things will come out of it for CiC, hoping that people will utilize CiC’s resources and that maybe some new programs will form.

“I have to believe that the added stress of all of this has made the need for support services, such as Community in Crisis, so very important,” Danette says. “When we get on the other side and access the [CiC] building as we were, I’m hoping that people will utilize all that it has to offer and maybe more programs will come out of it.”

Danette Lewis

Jean O’Connell

Some people are blessed with creative abilities while others are more analytical; however, Jean O’Connell possesses both of these qualities.

As a Trustee and Treasurer for Community in Crisis, Jean showcases her analytical skills by handling accounting, bookkeeping, and budgeting needs in addition to financial management of grants. Her creativity and flair for interior design made the Community Hub, home to CiC, what it is today – a relaxing, beautiful space that welcomes all. In addition to these roles, she has been active in the development of recovery support and family programs, serving on the Recovery Support Task Force and helping create parent and peer support networks. She volunteers a minimum of 10-15 hours per week.

Jean was a part of the original team that launched CiC in 2014. She has a personal connection to the CiC mission – both sides of her family have been affected by substance use disorder (SUD). This, in addition to two overdose deaths within the local community in 2013, motivated her to start having conversations on substance misuse with CiC founder Jody D’Agostini. From there, the conversations grew.

“Not many people were addressing the opioid epidemic,” Jean says.“People were in denial thinking that it wasn’t even affecting our town and, of course, we know that it has been and unfortunately continues to affect those around us, so there’s a strong need for the services we provide.”

Instead of looking at the “big picture,” Jean believes that having strong, interpersonal relationships with people with SUD or their families has more of a lasting impact. She says that CiC is not only gaining strides in educating people about substance misuse but also through life skills programming, which provides a place for people with SUD to belong and to gain independence.

“We’re a nonjudgmental organization. We will help in any way we can with whatever problem you might be having, whether it’s a loved one [or] it’s yourself,” she says. “In any capacity, we can [be], we’re there for them. And if we don’t have any support for them that we’re capable of, then we can point them in the right direction where they can get the help that they need.”

While there are many meetings available for people in recovery, Jean says she wants to also provide people in the community with crisis support, sober social programs and life skills programs to help support them.

“If we can save one life, it’s worth it.”

 

Jean O'Connell

Laurie Albee

To say that Laurie Albee is involved within the local community would be an understatement. Words like committed or devoted best describe her involvement in the local organizations she serves.

She is a mother of three who loves to dedicate her time to her kids and her local community. Laurie serves on the Municipal Alliance Board, which also involves substance misuse prevention work, and acts as a liaison between this committee and Community in Crisis. She is the President of the Touchdown Club where she is able to spread CiC’s mission at football games. Laurie has also devoted her time to the Hub Club, a 6-week after school program for middle schoolers where kids partake in fun community service projects related to CiC’s mission while learning about making healthy choices and staying risk-averse to drugs at the same time. Lastly, Laurie helps at the vaping information tables at parent and school events.

Laurie was looking for more volunteer opportunities before joining CiC. She became interested in the organization after hearing about the events that CiC was doing at the time. Laurie also has a personal connection to the CiC mission – she has a friend who is currently struggling with substance use disorder (SUD).

Even as an adult, Laurie is always learning new information about vaping, SUD, and more from CiC’s resources. She shares the information she learns from CiC with her kids to better educate them on a variety of issues. From there, they discuss any issues or questions her kids might have based on the information Laurie shares with them.

“I just feel that, you know, as long as they have the knowledge of all of these types of things, whether it be teenage suicide, overdoses, [or] drunk driving car accidents, I [should] share that with all of them,” Laurie says.

No matter what someone is looking for, Laurie says CiC is a great resource for everyone. As a volunteer, she is able to let others know about CiC events happening, even if she is not involved in the event herself.

“Community in Crisis is there as a resource tool, you know for people [with SUD], people fighting [SUD], for education purposes – that there’s a place that they can go.”

Laurie Albie