By Charlotte Smith
Governor Roy Cooper, along with other Governors and Mayors across the nation, have claimed this week as National Addiction Treatment Week. The Bladen County Opioid Task Force is rising to the call. The group continues to work together helping educate others about the issues opioids and similar drugs cause our communities.
Local elected officials, law enforcement officers, County employees, some faith based members and other community service minded people gathered on Tuesday of this week to discuss how to gain more support, momentum, and treatment to help in the fight against drug abuse. Chairman of the group, and County Commissioner, Charles Ray Peterson lead the discussion.
Sergeant Richard Allen, with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, reported on the churches his committee has made presentations to within the county. The committee’s goal is to give informational presentations to local churches and civic organizations. Allen and his team distribute packages to help safely dispose of medications and information about the local drug drop boxes, located at the Sheriff’s Office and Elizabethtown Police Department.
Allen also reported how receptive the churches participating in the opioid presentations have been. Allen encouraged everyone in the task force to have more churches contact him at 910-862-6960. Allen said he and his committee can do more educational presentations at churches and other civic organizations.
Allen gave an update on the Jail Diversion program the task force has received grant funding for but has been unable to use. The District Attorney’s Office has been on board with the program, but has been unable to put the program in to practice. Currently there is not any participation for the program at the DA’s level. The task force committee has made plans to meet with the DA’s office and a couple of local judges to help implement the Jail Diversion program and use the grant funding available.
Amy Munn, a leader in the task force, gave an update with Celebrate Recovery at the jail and at Windsor United Methodist Church. Celebrate Recovery is a 12-Step, Christ-centered ministry for those who are in recovery from any addiction, Munn explained. There are also classes for addicts loved ones. Discussion was made about how more awareness of the program could be made.
The ministry meets each Sunday from 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at Windsor United Methodist Church located at 12863 NC Highway 242 North, Elizabethtown. Dinner is served at 6 p.m. followed by a large group meeting and then small group meetings with a closing service at 8:30 p.m. The program is open to all age groups.
Munn also gave an update on Teen Challenge, a treatment program offered to women, that Windsor UMC is trying to start in Bladen County. Munn reported that Pastor Holly with the program, said, the church is still actively fundraising and still has about $20,000 to raise.
She said, “We know God has called us to come to the area to help and we look forward to serving women overcoming addiction. God is faithful and He is always on time. We are grateful for the churches, and those in the community who have been praying for us and taking an active role in helping us move forward with the procurement of a property that will soon offer hope to women in the area!”
Donations go towards the down payment of the Teen Challenge facility and the group’s goal is to have the down payment submitted prior to May 15th. If anyone would like to make a donation to Teen Challenge they may visit https://albemarleteenchallenge.weebly.com/. If you make an online donation, write a note designating the donation for the Bladen County Teen Challenge. You may also mail a donation in for the Bladen County Teen Challenge to: P.O. Box 2894
Elizabeth City, NC 27906
Bladen Baptist Association Director David Foster, Jill Sampson with Bladen County Department of Social Service, Sondra Guyton, with Bladen Community College and others, on the grant committee want to apply for more grants to help in the opioid battle. The task force hopes to apply for and be awarded grants which would allow for support groups and treatment programs. Guyton said the committee would also like to see programs started in schools with the grant funding.
Peterson wrapped up the discussions helping the coalition make some goals. More grants, assistance in schools, treatment programs and support programs, were the top goals mentioned. The task force ended by scheduling a community education gathering with light refreshments. The event will be held Thursday, May 24, at Bladen Community College starting at 6:30 p.m. A panel of task force members will be available for discussion. Everyone is invited to attend.
Later Tuesday evening, some task force members gave a presentation at the Bladen Baptist Association meeting. If you would like the task force to come to your church or civic organization please call, 910-862-6960. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the community gathering at BCC on May 24th to learn more about the issues plaguing our communities.