top of page

Peer-2-Peer Program

R.O.C.K. Missions Receives $710,000 Grant to Expand Peer-2-Peer Program Across Chatham-Kent

March 14th, 2023


CHATHAM – Reach Out Chatham Kent (R.O.C.K.) Missions has received a $710,000 grant

from the Health Canada Substance Use and Addictions Program for the Peer-2-Peer Program



Currently, the Peer-2-Peer Program operates weekly out of Chatham, engaging People with

Lived and Living Expertise (PWLE) to provide low-barrier access to information, harm reduction

supplies, community-driven outreach and support to people who are currently experiencing

homelessness and people who use substances. 


Between 2016 and 2020, Chatham-Kent experienced a greater than 280% increase in opioid-

related emergency department visits and a 400% increase in opioid poisoning-related deaths.

Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2020 saw Chatham-Kent’s greatest increase

in opioid related events over the past five years.


The expansion of the Peer-2-Peer Program will help fill a critical gap in harm reduction and

substance use services to those who live in rural and marginalized communities across



“We can’t ignore the opioid poisoning epidemic happening across Chatham-Kent,” says

R.O.C.K. Missions’ Operations Coordinator, Renee Geniole. “These rates may sound

staggering, but they Only scratch the surface of the true prevalence of opioid poisonings in our

community, or the immense cost of living through this crisis. Hundreds of opioid poisonings go

unreported due to systemic barriers that continue to marginalize people who use substances.

Lack of access to services, stigma, medical violence, and criminalization are a few examples of

the barriers faced by individuals we work with.”


Geniole adds that by engaging People with Lived Expertise in the Peer-2-Peer Program, it

empowers those involved to share their expertise, fostering opportunities to build knowledge

and skills. “We are investing in the community in ways that will have a lasting impact.”

The grant will allow R.O.C.K. Missions to quickly facilitate expansion of the Peer-2-Peer

Program beyond Chatham and into the communities where the clinical settings to access harm

reduction support does not exist. The initial expansion is set to begin before the end of March

2023, and will include engaging more People with Lived and Living Expertise from across

Chatham-Kent. Geniole says R.O.C.K. Missions is thrilled to be able to offer the expanded

services and acknowledges the support that has been paramount in the success of the program

so far. 


“We’re grateful that Health Canada recognizes the importance of this initiative and our ability to

facilitate it. We’re excited to expand the services to the smaller communities in Chatham-Kent

that have less access to the support they need. And we want to thank our community partners,

the individuals we serve, and the entire community. We recognize that we could not do what we

do without all of Chatham-Kent behind us.”


About the Peer-2-Peer Program


The Peer-2-Peer Program began in November 2020 in response to the opioid poisoning crisis,

when community agencies identified a significant gap in Chatham-Kent (CK) around peer

engagement. To better understand the needs of people with lived/living expertise of substance

use and homelessness a support team was created and people with lived/living expertise who

fulfill informal roles as leaders and caregivers in their communities were engaged to join the

project. Since then, the project team has met on a weekly basis as peer engagement activities

occur in various ways. R.O.C.K. Missions serves as the backbone organization for the project,

as their community-driven volunteer-based outreach services foster deep, trusting relationships

with PWLE and community partners working in substance use and homelessness. 

About R.O.C.K. Missions


R.O.C.K. Missions began in August 2019 with the goal of providing a different model of care to

people experiencing homelessness. R.O.C.K. Missions works by networking to identify people

in need and get in touch with them; meeting them where they are and on their terms. This

includes building trust, developing a sense of community, while treating all with dignity, respect,

and honesty. Some other principles of importance we provide include serving as a patient

advocate, reducing barriers to services, harm reduction, and trauma-informed care. Currently

R.O.C.K. Missions facilitates community outreach in Chatham, Wallaceburg, Blenheim and

Ridgetown, oversees the Peer-2-Peer Program and is the operating partner of James St. Drop-

In with Ska:Na Family Learning Centre and United Way of Chatham-Kent. 

For more information, please contact:

Renee Geniole – Operations Coordinator – (226-627-6163)

Colleen Lewis – Chairperson of the Board – (519-354-0430 x205)

Meet The Team

(back)  Renee Geniole (ROCK Missions Operations Coordinator), Marcus VanDusen (Peer Pathfinder), Billy Hurst (Peer), Devyn Demars (P2P Project Coordinator), Michelle Gilbertson (Peer Pathfinder), Jen Richmond  (P2P Project Coordinator), Maggie Clendenning (Chatham-Kent Public Health), Pam Glazier (LinCK), Karen Hunter (Chatham-Kent Women's Centre)

(front) Jordynne Lindsay (P2P Project Coordinator), Tyler (Peer), Margery Muharrem (United Way of Chatham-Kent), Colleen Lewis (ROCK Missions)

bottom of page