History & Program Overview

The Stop the Pain Recovery Ambassador (RA) program was first launched in 2018 with Ignite the Light, an event held in Rennert, North Carolina. Volunteers of Stop the Pain came together to host a substance use disorder awareness event in honor of local community member, William Jerome Willamson, who lost his life due to drug-related violence. The event was such a success, it has continued to be hosted in the community each year.

The RA program was originally funded by a grant from Cooks Native American Ministries Foundation and a subsequent subcontract from Robeson Health Care Corporation, via a Health Resources and Services Administration Grant. The goal of the RA program is to recruit, and train lay leaders in the community to serve as advocates for substance use disorder (SUD), while simultaneously increasing the impact and capacity of Stop the Pain.  In the community, RA's work to reduce the negative stigma associated with SUD; increase the community's knowledge of

local Recovery resources; as well receive funding to implement a program or project in their community related to promoting Recovery from SUDs. 

As an RA, participants are able to grow their event planning or project management skills, including such activities as submitting budgets, soliciting donations, or coordinating with vendors. RAs represent Stop the Pain's boots on the ground, and they are equipped to help respond to their communities' evolving needs around Recovery. 

Since 2019, Stop the Pain has sponsored 11 in person and virtual RA Trainings, training nearly 70 RAs. RAs receive information on local statistics related to SUD; challenges associated with stigma; the systemic causes of this health disparity; an overview of harm reduction strategies, specifically the use and administration of Naloxone; local resources for treatment and recovery; and the importance of practicing confidentiality and representing the agency in an ethical manner. Trainings typically include guest speakers such as a member of Recovery or an active RA, food, and the distribution of program swag. 

RAs help contribute to Stop the Pain's mission in a variety of ways including volunteering at our events and annual fundraiser, advocating for policy change at local and state level, sharing our posts on Facebook, or soliciting for donations. RAs are an integral part of the success of Stop the Pain. 

Since the program's inception in 2019, RA's have implemented more than 50 different projects or events impacting more than 4,000 people in nine communities. Some of these projects, such as the Community Naloxone Boxes, have become permanent programs of the agency. Click on the link below for a detailed view of each of the RA projects and events by year, including photos. 

Want to learn more about the RA program or become an RA? Emails us at for more information or call during our regular office hours.