Community comes together to help families
By Ken DeLaat
They came to learn.
Gathering in a room at NCRESA Wednesday evening were family members, people in recovery, law enforcement, court personnel, students and others who find themselves in some way dealing with the ravages of the opioid epidemic.
An epidemic no longer relegated to national news reports because our region, our county, our cities and our townships are being inundated with the aftershocks that rampant addiction brings.
And so they came to learn.
Families Against Narcotics (FAN) held their launch meeting Wednesday, January 31st, an initiative that began with Lisa Reed a local resident whose family had been affected by opiate addiction approaching Fremont police Chief Randy Wright. Chief Wright was aware of the magnitude of the issue and helped energize a community effort by bringing the courts, law enforcement, schools, substance abuse agencies, other local entities together. This group effort led to the formation of a local FAN group. Newaygo County Families Against Narcotics.
With more than 30 people at the tables on opening night the idea forged by two people and nurtured by a community who cares came to fruition.
“Our goal is to provide a forum for families.,” said Chief Wright.”During these meetings we hope to reduce the stigma associated with opioid addiction, enhance community options, raise awareness, and save lives through networking and prevention options. We want families to realize they are not alone.”
This first Newaygo County FAN meeting brings a new option for anyone struggling with not only the heartbreak of addiction but the helplessness that accompanies the often frustrating efforts to access the much needed help.
The speaker for the inaugural meeting was Phil Pavona who began the Okemos chapter of FAN after he and his wife Pat lost their son to a heroin overdose in 2011. He described his personal journey and laid the groundwork for how the group works, what it can accomplish and how it helps.
Yes, they came to learn, but they also came to share. Family members spoke of their addicted sons and daughters and the multitude of disappointment and disillusion in not just their loved ones, but also in the systems set up to provide help.
Mr. Pavona, who coordinates the 26 statewide FAN Chapters delivered some options and guidance while focusing on the synergistic power of the group. He encouraged getting as many people involved as possible while particularly noting the much welcomed presence of the several law enforcement groups in attendance that evening as well as Prosecuting Attorney Ellsworth Stay.
And he led the group in applauding the people in attendance who shared their path to recovery. An applause from people eager to hear that the seemingly elusive ‘Recovery’ exists and could possibly free their families from the Gordian Knot addiction creates.
They came to learn and learn they certainly did.
They learned from the speaker, from the group members who shared their stories and from the others who put in their time and effort to bring this vital piece of recovery to our area.
And they left with hope.
The kind of hope you feel when finally realizing the power of those four words.
You are not alone.
The next FAN meeting will be Wednesday February 28th at 7pm. At NCRESA’ Multi-media room, 4747 W 48th St. in Fremont.
“These meeting are open to everyone,” said Chief Wright. “ Anyone who is struggling with addiction or has someone close to them suffering is strongly encouraged to attend. We also invite anyone who has questions, concerns, or just wants a better understanding of what is happening in their community.”
Questions? Call 231.519.0642
And to learn more please visit the website.