Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One Program Surpasses 10,000 Contacts on New Year’s Eve 2019

Hope One, the mobile substance abuse outreach program started in April 2017 by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and five partners, surpassed 10,000 community contacts on New Year’s Eve on the Morristown Green.

From left, Mental Health Specialist Al Shurdom, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Certified Peer Recovery Specialists Carrie Bailey and Kelly LaBar, Sheriff's Office Corporal and Hope One Coordinator Erica Valvano, Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Sheriff's Office Director Richard Cook, Mental Health Specialist Madine Despeine-Udoh.
From left, Mental Health Specialist Al Shurdom, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Certified Peer Recovery Specialists Carrie Bailey and Kelly LaBar, Sheriff’s Office Corporal and Hope One Coordinator Erica Valvano, Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Sheriff’s Office Director Richard Cook, Mental Health Specialist Madine Despeine-Udoh.

“I am so proud of this far-reaching achievement by the Hope One teams,” Sheriff Gannon said.

“In less than three years, Hope One has helped transform thousands of lives by listening without judgment and guiding people struggling with addiction to necessary services they likely wouldn’t find on their own,” Sheriff Gannon said.

On the last day of 2019, Hope One logged its 10,000th contact since its debut on April 3, 2017, on the Morristown Green.  By the end of the team’s five-hour stop Tuesday, they had trained 13 people in how to administer the nasal antidote Narcan to temporarily reverse an overdose.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon inside the Hope One vehicle on New Year's Eve 2019.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon inside the Hope One vehicle on New Year’s Eve 2019.

The stop ended with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and the Center for Addiction Recovery, Education & Success (CARES), a Hope One partner, assisting a man who needed transportation to a detox facility Tuesday afternoon. He had his bags packed and a treatment bed secured but no ride to the facility.

Hope One ended 2019 with 10,031 contacts logged. Teams since April 3, 2017, assisted 156 people with accessing rehab and recovery programs; 123 people with navigating mental health treatment options; Narcan-trained 2,184 people; and passed out at least 2,582 brochures and business cards.

The 10,000th contact, John Keiser, approached the distinctive white and purple Hope One vehicle in its parked spot on North Park Place to receive free Narcan training and a Narcan kit from a Certified Peer Recovery specialist.

Mr. Keiser sought the training, he said, because he unexpectedly helped revive an acquaintance who was overdosing on opioids recently.

The Hope One team celebrates the milestone of reaching 10,000 contacts in the community with two Hope One supporters.
The Hope One team celebrates the milestone of reaching 10,000 contacts in the community with two Hope One supporters.

Matthew Scarfo, the owner of Full-Time Fitness in Morristown, also went through Narcan training on Tuesday. He said he has lost multiple friends and acquaintances to addiction and believes that he, with his focus on nutrition and fitness, can be a positive influence.

“I think I’m in a position to effect change,” Mr. Scarfo said.

Sheriff Gannon created Hope One with the assistance of the Morris County Department of Human Services and non-profit partners Daytop NJ, Prevention Is Key (PIK), the Center for Addiction Recovery, Education & Success (CARES) and the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris.

Hope One, which makes five-hour stops in key locations in Morris County at least twice-a-week, is staffed by Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal and Hope One Coordinator Erica Valvano; a Peer Recovery Specialist from CARES, and a Mental Health Specialist from the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris.

On New Year’s Eve, Sheriff Gannon and Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer stopped by Hope One to support the team that included Peer Recovery Specialists Kelly LaBar and Carrie Bailey, and Mental Health Specialists Al Shurdom and Madine Despeine-Udoh.

Hope One supporter Jerry Mantone, a retired Madison Police Department Acting Chief, makes a donation of warm clothing to Hope One Coordinator, Morris County Sheriff's Office Corporal Erica Valvano.
Hope One supporter Jerry Mantone, a retired Madison Police Department Acting Chief, makes a donation of warm clothing to Hope One Coordinator, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano.

Some passersby requested toiletries the Hope One team keeps in stock while Jerry Mantone, who retired in 2012 as Acting Police Chief of the Madison Police Department, dropped off a donation of socks and thermal clothing and then stayed to receive Narcan training.

Corporal Valvano was jubilant about reaching 10,000 contacts and applauded her colleagues, particularly the Peer Recovery Specialists who have overcome heroin addiction to help others with substance abuse disorders recover.

“We thought we were just going to meet addicts when we started out but we’ve met the mothers, girlfriends, boyfriends, brothers, sisters and friends of the addicted.  They’re struggling too,” Corporal Valvano said.

Daytop NJ Executive Director Jim Curtin and MHA Executive Director Robert Davison expressed gratitude to the Hope One teams.

“What a tremendous milestone, and at a time of year when our brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents, children and neighbors need this kind of outreach the most,” Mr. Curtin said.

“Ten thousand people served! Making a difference in lives of others one person at a time. Thousands of lives have been improved and hundreds of lives have been saved.  We are proud to be a part of this compassionate work,” Mr. Davison said.