The people have spoken: Announcing the winner of our 2023 People’s Choice Award
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The people have spoken: Announcing the winner of our 2023 People’s Choice Award

July 26, 2023

On July 20, the Partnership for Public Service announced that, after weeks of voting, Megan Meacham, Allison Hutchings, Sarah O’Donnell and the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Team won the 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals® People’s Choice Award. More than 75,000 votes were cast to determine this year’s winner.  

In 2022, this Health Resources and Services Administration team worked to create a major initiative that provides grants for prevention, treatment and recovery services to help millions of people suffering from opioid use in rural communities across the country.

To celebrate this win, the team discussed its work during the latest installment of the Partnership’s Sammies Summer Series. Viewers can watch the full video of the event on the Partnership’s YouTube page.

Meeting the needs of rural communities

Rural areas throughout the United States are struggling with the opioid epidemic. To help address this public health crisis, Meacham, Hutchings and O’Donnell set up and now manage the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, or RCORP.

Initiated five years ago, RCORP has invested over $500 million and served more than 2 million people a year in more than 1,800 rural counties across 47 states and two U.S. territories.

Sammies Summer Series, featuring (clockwise starting from top left) the Partnership’s Rachel Klein-Kircher, Megan Meacham, Allison Hutchings and Sarah O’Donnell.

RCORP’s initiative addresses all aspects of opioid prevention, treatment and recovery. The program funds customized approaches and programs tailored to each community and its needs, and includes partnerships with a range of local community members and groups, such as first responders, churches, criminal justice representatives, schools and individuals who have had personal experience with substance use disorders. In all, more than 3,000 organizations partner with RCORP grantees. 

Hutchings, deputy director of HRSA’s Rural Strategic Initiatives Division, calls the opioid crisis an “all-hands-on-deck issue” that requires specialists working across different sectors and different levels of government to collaborate.

“Rural communities face a series of unique challenges when it comes to providing treatment to substance use disorder,” added O’Donnell, team lead for the Rural Strategic Initiatives Division. “It’s been amazing to see how these communities have come together to address these challenges.”

For Meacham, Hutchings, and O’Donnell, this work illustrates the appeal of working in public service.

“What’s striking about working in the federal government is the breadth of opportunities,” O’Donnell said. “To serve the U.S. population is an incredible honor.” Meacham echoed this sentiment, stating “there’s a place for everyone [in government].”

Learn more

Today, Meacham, Hutchings, O’Donnell and the RCORP team are continuing to address the needs of rural communities affected by the opioid epidemic. To learn more about the team and other outstanding Sammies finalists, check out

The Partnership will announce the winners of this year’s Service to America Medals® in October.

Julia Kingston is an intern in the Partnership’s communications team.

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