County Faces: Clare Desrosiers of Linneus
Although she was always moved to help people, Clare Desrosiers knew that after receiving a master’s degree in social work, she wanted to do more to help people on a larger level.
The Linneus resident said recently that after spending much of her time working in direct service in foster care, she became frustrated with what she felt was her “inability to do much of anything to help.”
“Human problems and suffering are so complex,” she said. “So I really wanted to do something on a larger level instead of just one-on-one.”
Her desire led her to take a job in 2008 as the executive director of the Diversion Alert program, a now-discontinued statewide prescription drug abuse prevention program that also assisted Maine health-care providers in identifying patients who may be abusing or illegally distributing prescription drugs.
“I had really studied substance abuse more closely, and I felt that working at Diversion Alert would help me reach out to more people who are dealing with addiction,” she said.
“There is minimal money for it and not enough time to help everyone, but I wanted to try. I wanted to get at the root cause of substance abuse.”
Each month, Diversion Alert distributed a list of individuals arrested or summoned for prescription or illegal drug-related crimes in each public health district to prescribers, pharmacists and law enforcement agencies registered to receive the alerts. Health care providers are not required to share patient information with law enforcement officials.
Desrosiers said that she was frustrated when the state cut off funding to the program.
“It really hampers us in that area,” she said. “But I was very proud that we launched that program and kept it going for five years.”
After leaving Diversion Alert, she took her current position as the parish catechetical leader at St. Mary of the Visitation Church in Houlton in April 2017. She works to oversee all adult and youth faith formation programs and coordinate parish life activities.
She said that after her work combating the opioid crisis, she felt called to her current position after growing in her faith.
“I really wanted to share all that I had learned,” she said.
Currently, she is overseeing fundraising in an effort to send five youth from St. Mary’s Youth Ministry and two chaperones on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in March 2019. The youth will spend nine days serving children and families living in poverty in the coastal town of El Factor, Dominican Republic.
Desrosiers said that she was moved to plan the trip based on her own past experience on a missionary trip to Tijuana, Mexico.
“I made the trip when I was 18 years old, and it was life-changing,” she said. “I spent two years there. There is poverty in the United States, but the experience of poverty is very different from what you see in a Third World country. It is profound.”
In addition to her professional work, Desrosiers finds fulfillment in her family’s venture. She owns Sunnyside Family Farm in Linneus with her husband, Joe. The family has been working the land for 16 years and sells chicken, other poultry, eggs and a wide variety of fruits.
“The farm is very much a family farm and my husband is the one who has put much of the work into it,” she said.
“We love it. It is a great experience for our family and we love selling products to the local communities.”