Everyday, Alison Houweling, Manager of Education and Community Programming and harm-reduction counsellor at the Cammy LaFleur Street Outreach Program run by Turning Points Collaborative, steps up and helps transform some of the most vulnerable in our Vernon community. We at Turning Points see her value and contribution everyday, but now, others will as well. She has been featured in Best Health Magazine as one of the Best Health’s 2020 Women of the Year.

Alison Houweling, 47

For helping people with substance-use disorders stay safe

Alison Houweling, a harm-reduction counsellor at the Cammy LaFleur Street Outreach Program in Vernon, B.C., has seen the dangerous intersection of an opioid crisis and a global pandemic play out in real time.

In October, B.C. reported more than 1,200 fatal drug overdoses so far in 2020 — up from a total of 983 deaths in 2019. Houweling’s outreach work has never been more vital. “The distinction between our COVID-19 response and our opioid overdose crisis response is telling,” she says.

“With COVID-19…we all saw how quickly our social systems can be proactively changed to ensure the safety and security of our people. With the opioid overdose crisis, people seem to be still scratching their heads.”

Houweling got into harm-reduction work because she wanted to help others — something she learned from her parents, who always made a point of assisting the less fortunate. Despite the hardships of the pandemic, Houweling says this year has made people come together to find ways to support people with substance-use disorders while staying safe. “We participated in many Zoom meetings to coordinate services and ensure nobody was left behind.” —L.H.

See the full article featuring Alison and all the amazing 2020 Women of the Year in health.