Each day in our country, more than 100 people die from opioid drug overdoses--nearly 50,000 in 2016 alone. Our community has not been spared. In one month alone, there were three fatal overdose deaths due to opioid drugs, including a 19-year-old Traverse City Central High School graduate. Deaths due to overdose now outnumber the number of traffic fatalities nearly two to one.
In 2015, Robert Cooney, the Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney, was alarmed by the trends he was seeing. He started the Grand Traverse County Drug Free Coalition to bring together community agencies and individuals to explore answers. Prosecutor Cooney became acquainted with Judge Linda Davis and learned about Families Against Narcotics through his friendship with her. He was greatly impressed with the group and wanted to start a chapter in Traverse City.
In February of 2018, Kathy Jones, a local pharmacist, was attending the annual convention of the Michigan Pharmacists Association when she heard Phil Pavona speak about FAN. She was deeply touched by his words and the hope they offered. She had experience with addiction and the pitfalls of finding help through current channels and knew families who had lost loved ones to this terrible disease. Kathy felt that forming a chapter in Traverse City was a real possibility. Phil had given her his phone number and she called him Sunday night on her way home. He answered, and so began the start of Grand Traverse Area Families Against Narcotics chapter.
Once she returned, Kathy contacted Prosecutor Cooney as part of the process of starting a new chapter. Together they began gathering a formidable group of individuals. Because of the relationships formed through the Coalition, Prosecutor Cooney was able to bring together judges, the local school superintendent, local police chief, a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of addiction, and the CEOs of some of the local addiction treatment services, among others, as directors. He and Kathy also included family members, recovering people, and the local manager of HUD programs. These people are passionate about working together to be a part of the solution to the tragic situation happening in the Grand Traverse area.
Chief Jeffrey O’Brien
Traverse City Police Department
Regional Director, Grand Traverse County Hope Not Handcuffs; Hope Not Handcuffs Angel
Hope Not Handcuffs Regional Coordinator; Hope Not Handcuffs Angel
Behavior Health Tech/Michigan Opioid Partnership
Munson Medical Center; Peer Recovery Coach; Hope Not Handcuffs Angel
Coordinator, Grand Traverse County Drug Free Coalition
Lt/F/Det. Kip Belcher
Task Force Commander, 7th District, Michigan State Police
LMSW, CAADC, Director Harm Reduction
Officer Jordan Wieber
Crime Prevention Officer, Traverse City Police Department
David McGreaham, MD
Medical Director of Northern Michigan Opioid Response Consortium; Co-Chair, 5 County Substance-Free Coalition of NW Michigan
Trooper David Prichard
Community Service Trooper, Michigan State Police, 7th District/Cadillac Post
Undersheriff, Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office
Executive Director, Human Resources & Labor Relations
Traverse City Area Public Schools
Christine Nefcy, MD
CMO Munson Healthcare
Retail/Buyer/Mgr., Grand Traverse Resort; Moms on a Mission; Hope Not Handcuffs Angel