The Otsego County chapter of Families Against Narcotics began in early 2020 through the efforts of community members wanting to address some of the problems being experienced as a result of drugs and drug overdoses in the community. After moving to Gaylord in 2018, Chris and Linda Ulewicz approached members of the Otsego County Drug-Free Coalition to discuss the possibility of starting a FAN chapter in Otsego County. Several years earlier, when they learned that their college student son was addicted to heroin, they received help and support through the Macomb FAN Chapter. Their son has been in recovery for several years, recently graduated from college, and is attending law school. The Ulewiczes wanted to offer their help to others who might find themselves in the same situation they were in just a few years earlier. Through one couple’s experience with Families Against Narcotics, and their willingness to reach out and offer help to other families faced with the struggles that accompany addiction, FAN Otsego County was born.
In late 2019, a public town hall meeting was held to introduce the concept of FAN to the community. A panel provided personal stories and information about addiction, recovery, and resources available in the area. The response from the attendees was overwhelmingly positive so a plan was made to move forward and establish a local FAN Chapter.
Our monthly FAN Forums raise awareness about the problem with illegal drugs in our community, provide information related to substance use disorder (SUD), and share resources available for those seeking recovery. We provide community education to reduce the stigma related to SUD, and provide support to the family members who want to help their loved one struggling with addiction. Everyone is invited to our monthly forums to experience the hope that can be found through Families Against Narcotics.
JUDGE GEORGE MERTZ
George J. Mertz was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to the Circuit Court bench in January 2013, and was elected to a full 6-year term in November 2014. He was appointed as Chief Judge in 2016 by the Michigan Supreme Court.
Judge Mertz received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1996 and his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University School of Law in 2001. He began his legal career as an associate attorney at the Gaylord office of Plunkett & Cooney, P.C. In 2004 he was hired as assistant general counsel for the Police Officers Association of Michigan. Based out of his office in Gaylord, Judge Mertz's practice included public sector labor law, criminal law, civil litigation, and appellate matters throughout central and northern Michigan. He also held a position as an adjunct professor at the Gaylord campus of North Central Michigan College, teaching business law.
Judge Mertz is involved in a number of professional organizations and committees. He has served on the executive board of the Michigan Judges Association since 2014, and is currently co-chair of the Judicial Outreach Committeee. He also serves on the Michigan Judicial Institute's Academic Advisory Committee and the State Court Administrative Office Trial Court Performance Measures Committee.
Judge Mertz resides in Gaylord with his wife Amy and their two children. He and his family are involved in the community and enjoy spending time together, participating in the many outdoor activities that northern Michigan provides year round.
Rosaria Vasile lives in Gaylord and works as a clinical therapist, providing treatment to individuals with substance use disorders. Born and raised in Macomb County, Rosaria and her family relocated to beautiful northern Michigan nine years ago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Oakland University and worked as a teacher in Detroit for 10 years. Rosaria later earned a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from Michigan State University and became certified as an advanced alcohol and drug counselor. In her spare time, Rosaria enjoys many of the seasonal outdoor activities that northern Michigan has to offer.
In Lynda’s work in the substance abuse prevention field, she partners with local schools, law enforcement agencies, and health service providers to educate people of all ages on the negative outcomes that result from drug use and addiction. She advocates for policy and system changes that prevent underage drug and alcohol use and adult abuse of legal and illegal drugs. Having seen the negative impact of drugs and alcohol abuse in families, Lynda believes in the positive results that a Families Against Narcotics chapter will have in the community.
Joyce Fetrow is a resident of Otsego County and in long-term recovery from substance use disorder. She currently works in the field of substance use disorder/recovery as a project associate for Northern Michigan Opiate Response Consortium (NMORC). Joyce dedicates her time as a volunteer in this field as an operator of a sober living home for women in Emmet County. She is also a recovery coach, advocate, and navigator serving many counties within northern Michigan.
Chris has been a high school teacher at St. Mary's Cathedral in Gaylord since 2018, after spending most of his life in the metro Detroit area. While teaching at De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, he learned about FAN through a partnership with the school that brought in speakers to talk about education and prevention. For many years Chris's family has actively supported the annual Run Drugs Out of Town fundraising event in Fraser. Chris has given many talks on the effects of addiction on families and served as a keynote speaker at the 2017 Recovery Walk in Ann Arbor. As the father of a son in long-term recovery who has directly benefited from some of the resources that FAN offers, Chris is committed to fighting the opioid epidemic through humble service.
Pam Morgridge is a clinical supervisor for Catholic Human Services, Inc. (CHS). An agency dedicated to helping those who struggle with addiction and mental health, CHS's mission is to enhance the lives of the people they serve by providing hope-filled emotional, social, and spiritual support. Pam has been a substance abuse therapist for 16 years and has a strong passion to help people who are hurting from the pains of addiction. Her career in the substance abuse field has now led her into supervising a clinical staff in the central and south central region of northern Michigan.
Chief Frank Claeys has been a police officer with the city of Gaylord since 1997 and was sworn in as chief of police in May of 2019. He is currently a board member for Straights Area Narcotics Enforcement, as well as a school board member for the Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools. Chief Claeys has been involved with community youth as a high school basketball coach and youth football coach.
Sue Winter serves as the executive director for the NMSAS Recovery Center in Gaylord. She began working in the field of behavioral health more than 35 years ago. Her experience spans direct service as a prevention and treatment provider, to executive director of a sub-state regional authority managing public funds for substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services for a 30-county region in northern lower Michigan. She currently serves on the Michigan Opioids Task Force Stakeholder Advisory Group. Sue is a strong advocate for the building of recovery supportive systems and communities.
Christian Wilson has served Gaylord High School since the fall of 2002. During the past 18 years, he has held the positions of assistant principal and athletic director, along with heading the Gaylord Alternative School during its last year of existence. Christian has two sons, Mitch and Matt, who are both recent graduates of GHS and now attending Northern Michigan University. An active member of the community who enjoys working with students of all ages, Christian holds a BS in Physical and Health Education from Northern Michigan University and an MS in Athletic Administration from Western Michigan University.
Courtney Quick is the Business Development Specialist for Sanford Behavioral Health, an evidence-based program that utilizes the 12 Steps and whole-body wellness, and considers the vital role of the family in its approach to treatment. Courtney not only has experience with addiction/recovery from a professional standpoint, but also on a personal level as well. Watching a spouse fall into the terrible downward spiral of addiction and mental illness has given her the passion to want to help other families suffering the terrible hurt of a loved one’s battle with substance use disorder.
Sheriff Matt Nowicki