The task force held its first meeting May 22.
A low turnout was expected for the Flagler County Opioid Task Force’s first meeting on Tuesday, May 22. However, to the surprise of those who organized the meeting, an estimated 50 people showed up at the Hilton Garden Inn, at 55 Town Center Blvd, to listen to how the task force planned to stem the tied of Flagler County’s current drug epidemic.
Flagler County commission candidate Joe Mullins said he was amazed at the turnout and how the meeting went.
“For the first time, it seemed like these people had hope in their eyes,” Mullins said. “They felt like they had an ability to give back, the ability to do something in their children’s name. We were blown away by the response and the people who wanted to get involved.”
In addition to Mullins, the task force is headed by Pastor Charles Silano of Grace Tabernacle Ministries, Flagler County Drug Court President Michael Feldbauer and Flagler County Sheriff’s Office representatives.
“This is not just a drug we’re fighting. This is a culture, a mindset,” Silano said. “And it’s so vast that we need to address a lot of concerns. It affects everyone at every level, and it affects them in their circumstance. It’s not just the addict we’re after. We’re after everything the addict is touching because this impacts everyone.”
Though no official roles have been assigned, Silano said the task force hopes to form an identity between now and the next meeting on July 18. The goal is educate the public and provide resources.
Silano said he wants Flagler County to become a “recovery model county.”
“We’re an incarceration state,” he said. “But you can’t incarcerate yourself out of this.”
The families of people impacted by opioid addiction were also in attendance to share their stories, including the DeAngelis family.
Savannah DeAngelis, who had been battling addiction for a couple of years, overdosed at her home in Palm Coast on Oct. 28 two days after she was released from the Flagler County jail. She was 23.
“I’m glad the county is realizing the problem and is wanting to take action,” said Christina DeAngelis, Savannah’s sister. “It was good to see all these people come together to do something.”
She added: “There are people that have come together that are from all walks of life. I think that’s an important thing to realize when it comes to this problem. All types of people deal with addiction. Hopefully this will bring education to people: After someone becomes addicted, it becomes beyond their control.”