A state grant of more than $350,000 is aiding a program that helps young adults escape opioid addiction.

“So much of an addiction is about becoming isolated and separated,” said Maude Dornfeld, executive director of Duluth Life House, an agency dedicated to serving homeless and street youth. “Being able to create a very safe environment and a social network of support is so important.”

The program itself, a partnership of SOAR Career Solutions and Life House with other local agencies, has been around for a while now. Originally funded with a federal grant, it’s an onsite paid job-training program, better known under the moniker Legitimate Hustle.

Previous stories have reported about how young adults have formed two entrepreneurial businesses via Legitimate Hustle, one making and selling candles and the other transforming discarded jewelry into new creations.

Convinced of the program’s worth, Life House and SOAR sought new funding when the original grant ran out, Dornfeld said. They saw that a request for proposals from the state Department of Human Services for state opioid response grants included an opportunity for a vocational rehabilitation pilot project.

“So we did propose operating the Legitimate Hustle for young people who are in recovery from opioid use disorder,” Dornfeld said.

Life House and SOAR learned late in the summer that they’d receive the $362,760 grant that runs through September 2020, she said.

Another grant, of nearly $500,000, went to Mesabi Range College to train individuals willing to work in underserved areas in opioid assessments and addiction counseling.

Life House was in the midst of its expansion project when it received its grant, Dornfeld said. But it was able to put the grant into full use by October.

Ten people, ages 18 to 24, are in the program, Dornfeld said, and most are in recovery from addiction. The grant has allowed their work hours to be expanded to four hours per day from two. They work at Life House, where they also have the opportunity to pursue their academic goals and receive mental health and substance abuse counseling.

At some point they also can enter SOAR’s apprenticeship program, getting introduced to various trades.

The grant for Life House and SOAR is among $11.2 million in opioid response grants statewide distributed by the Department of Human Services. The original source is a $17.7 million federal grant the state received last year for Naloxone, medication-assisted treatment and building the treatment work force.

The grants went to 27 counties, tribes, health care providers and community agencies, according to a DHS news release.

To learn more

More information and online sales for Legitimate Hustle products are at https://lifehouselhp.org/. During the holiday season, products can also be purchased from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays in the retail space at Life House, 102 W. First St.