VAN BUREN COUNTY
Families Against Narcotics of Van Buren County was established as a result of a series of events, beginning in 2010 with a car accident that left two Paw Paw brothers seriously injured, and the decisions made for one of the boys’ ongoing recovery. Addiction is not always a choice, as many believe; often it is the side effect of a decision made by health care professionals due to a need for pain management. Sometimes a well-intended prescription can take a family down the dark and twisty road of addiction.
Mary Springer found herself on just such a journey in the years following her sons’ accident in 2010. Desperately searching for answers to help navigate that road, she found that information was conflicting and often less than accurate; resources were scarce, at best. A friend told her about a medical professional’s conference on addiction in Kalamazoo and, desperate for answers, Mary signed up. There, she met Nancy King and Kristi Angelo, two speakers who had both lost their children to overdose deaths. After the session ended and the room emptied, Mary made her way to the front to talk to Nancy and Kristi more about the organization they were starting a chapter of in Southwest Michigan--Families Against Narcotics (FAN).
Mary began attending the community support group meetings, which focused on support and education for the families of those with substance use disorder, and on breaking the stigma associated with addiction that was prevalent among the general public. As her son struggled with his addiction, Mary met Judge Kathleen Brickley, a circuit court Judge in Van Buren County. They were on different sides of a courtroom drama, but found common ground in their passion to help those affected by the opioid epidemic that had taken hold in local communities. They developed a mutual respect for each other.
In the summer of 2018, Mary and her longtime friend, Jack Gregory, approached Judge Brickley about the need to form a FAN chapter in the local community. At the time, the nearest FAN Southwest Michigan meetings were held in the COPE Facility in Parchment, a distance that made regular attendance difficult for Van Buren County families. In the months that followed, the trio formed a board and established a chapter of Families Against Narcotics in Van Buren County. With the help of FAN Fraser, they established a “Run Drugs Out of Town 5K” run/walk in conjunction with the Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival, to raise funds to support their efforts. Its long-term goals were education and assistance in establishing desperately needed transitional housing in Van Buren County.
Mary Springer is passionate about making sure no parent feels hopeless and helpless because of a lack of resources and support. "I felt so alone and so afraid," Mary says. "I had no idea where to turn for help. I don’t want anyone who is fighting for their child or loved one to ever feel that the fight is hopeless. With support, resources, education, and open dialogue, we hope to shatter the stigma and shame associated with addiction to more effectively work towards recovery… because there is HOPE in recovery!"
3rd Tuesday of the month
Paw Paw Lions Club
59050 CR 665
Paw Paw, MI 49079
All are welcome to attend
(Children 10 and older please)
President Term Exp. 12/21
Kathleen Brickley was appointed to the Van Buren 36th Circuit Court in 2012, and serves as the chief judge of Van Buren County Courts. She handles the felony criminal docket and presides over the Female Drug Treatment Court and the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program. Brickley is a member of Van Buren County’s Drug Treatment Court Policy Council, Restorative Justice Committee, and Substance Abuse Task Force. She also serves as the chairperson for the Van Buren Community Corrections Advisory Board. She serves on the executive board of the Michigan Judges Association and co-chairs that organization’s Criminal Committee. A member of the Michigan Judicial Institute’s Academic Advisory Committee and the same organization's Criminal Proceedings Benchbook Advisory Committee, Brickley also serves as a member of the Michigan Model Criminal Law Jury Instructions Committee.
Vice President Term Exp. 12/23
Mary is a Downtown Development coordinator, festival board member, entertainment chair and, most importantly, the mother of two boys. She sees addiction as the greatest health problem now facing the American public, and believes that we cannot change the staggering overdose statistics among our youth until we change the way we view addiction. Her focus is on the areas of addiction awareness and treatment, as well as prison reform. She hopes to help break the stigma associated with addiction, educate the public on evidence-based treatment, and provide resources and hope to those who are fighting for recovery, as well as those fighting for a friend or loved one suffering from the disease of addiction. "Incarceration is not the answer for someone suffering from addiction," Mary states. "It only compounds the problems. Evidence-based treatment, compassion, and understanding are what are needed for successful recovery."
Secretary Term Exp. 12/23
Terrejo Arbo has over 13 years of financial experience and is an active part of the Paw Paw community. She volunteers her time for many local events and causes, and truly has a heart for service. Terrejo has seen firsthand what addiction does to an individual, a family, and a community. She is passionate about helping both those who suffer from substance use disorder and the families that are desperately looking for resources. Terrejo is committed to educating, eliminating stigma, and helping wherever she is needed to make this community a better place for everyone.
JACK A. GREGORY
Director Term Exp. 12/23
Jack has been a resident of Michigan and Paw Paw for much of his life and is the father of three adult children. He also has six grandchildren. After graduating from Paw Paw High School, Jack attended Western Michigan University and graduated with honors and a dual major in computer information systems and management. Since the early 1980s, Jack has served in management, leadership, ownership, and board of director roles for local, national, and global consulting and software firms. He is very active in local, regional, and national community service organizations, advocating for and supporting children and families. Over the past 35 years, Jack has served on the board of directors for numerous nonprofit organizations. He can often be seen and heard performing as a musician at local venues and events.
Director Term Exp. 12/23
Currently working full-time in family medicine at Bronson South Haven, Dr. Bleil first came to the area after graduating from the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University and serving his residency in Kalamazoo. He joined South Haven Family Physicians in 1993. With a strong interest in teaching, Gordon developed the South Haven Family Practice Rural Residency Program in conjunction with the Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, and that program graduated its first resident in 2002. In 2008, he moved to the emergency department at South Haven Health System while working on a master's degree in medical informatics through Northwestern University. Currently chief of staff for Bronson South Haven, Dr. Bleil has been consistently involved in medical staff leadership. He has seen the full spectrum of opioid dependency and addiction as part of his practices, in both the emergency department and office settings. His primary goal is to help patients learn how to take control of their pain, allowing them to move away from the use of dangerous opioid medications. He also thinks that long-term success for recovering patients has to include manageable alternatives to the use of drugs, and has a strong interest in helping to develop the clinical and analytic tools that will allow our healthcare providers to improve the health of our community. Gordon believes working with Families Against Narcotics is an opportunity to work with other community leaders to provide a broader range of resources, to help both patients and providers.
Director Term Exp. 12/21
Tracy received her bachelor's and master's degrees in counseling education and counseling psychology at Western Michigan University and is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and limited licensed psychologist (LLP). In 1998, she joined Mapleview Consultation Center PC and has been a partner and owner for the past 18 years. The organization was started in 1993 to provide the community with specialized substance abuse counseling and intensive outpatient (IOP) group therapy. They have more than nine therapists who provide substance abuse counseling, not only for people struggling with addiction, but also for families that are affected, children with addicted parents, and spouses who deal with drug addiction on a daily basis. Tracy is honored to be a member of the Van Buren County FAN chapter's board.
Judge Michael McKay
Circuit Court Judge - Drug Court
Founder of COPE
and FAN SWMI President
Retired-State Police Officer
Recovery Room Facilitator
Rep. Beth Griffin
DEO Mick Masterson
Drug Enforcement Officer
Wings of God Women's Transitional Home