Local 902 volunteers with the Minnesotans they serve

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Local 902’s new community engagement officer Brooklyn Petrich recently gathered her Department of Health (MDH) colleagues with an agency partner to benefit some Minneapolis residents they serve.   

Local 902 at syring cleanup

“I coordinate mutual aid events for our local which benefit Minnesotans impacted by our work. Many of us are interested in harm reduction so we partnered with Southside Harm Reduction Services in south Minneapolis,” Petrich said. She and her fellow volunteers work in MDH’s infectious disease division.  

The nonprofit operates a syringe service program and provides safer drug use supplies, street outreach teams, Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, and Naloxone training. The MAPE members worked with the street outreach and volunteer team to go into the community to clean up syringes and other drug use paraphernalia and other trash. 

Southside Harm Reduction Services staff guide the cleanup. They provide education and all the gear necessary to do the work safely. 

“Many of us work with data, analysis or program management, so it was a great experience to go into the community. We enjoyed learning from them about the day-to-day realities they face,” Petrich added. “It is important to stay connected to, or be aware of, what the organizations who serve the same communities as we do see in their day-to-day work.” 

Petrich said learning more about these organizations is easy, “Volunteering can be a great way to stay connected to the ‘on-the-ground work’ happening in our state. Other locals can do the same thing with groups in their geographic area and these kinds of activities can strengthen our relationships with the community and with one another.”