October 5, 2022
“This is Mrs. King,” said Melissa Esty, smiling and introducing her well-behaved pup to passersby's at the Kid’s Safety Day event in Westbrook last month. “She’s a rescue I got three years ago. She’s incredibly good with people, which is a good thing considering what I do for a living.”
Seeing how intrigued Mrs. King was by all the sights, sounds and smells at the event, Missy lowered Mrs. King to the ground. Instead of bolting for the hot dog stand, the curious canine toddled toward a couple of curious children, eager to be pet by a few new pairs of hands.
“I am a Recovery Liaison for the Westbrook Police Department,” she said proudly. “I grew up here and graduated from Westbrook High School, so I know the area well. I’m not a police officer, nor am I here to judge anyone.”
On a regular basis, Missy receives notice from the Westbrook Recovery Liaison Program (WRLP) that an individual struggling with opioid use disorder is seeking assistance. From there, she works to connect the individual with services to help them in their efforts to recover.
From inpatient and outpatient treatment, to medical services, to housing, employment, food and basic household needs, Missy said the program has helped numerous people break the cycle of substance use and help them get on the road to a better, more fulfilling life.
“Working toward sobriety means learning how to live well, and unfortunately a person may experience slip-ups in that process,” Missy explained. “That’s a normal and natural part of the recovery process. My advice has always been one step at a time.”
Slowly, Mrs. King sauntered back toward Missy, who scooped her up with one hand and held her against her chest. Missy looked around at the families and children enjoying their time at the event. Being present and making others aware of what she does, she said, is incredibly important.
“Developing new relationships with people, even under the most difficult of circumstances, is an incredibly rewarding experience,” she said. “If Mrs. King could talk, she’d probably agree with me. We love this community and we love bringing happiness and hope to others.”
Melissa Esty has been the Opportunity Alliance police liaison for the Portland Police Department and Cumberland County for more than eight years. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the University of Southern Maine and studied at King Alfred College in the United Kingdom.
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