Hope Not Handcuffs guides first person into treatment

SAGINAW TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (08/09/18) - Hope Not Handcuffs officially launched in the Great Lakes Bay Region back on July 24. One week later someone walked through the doors at the Saginaw Township Police Department and asked for help.

"He said I'm here for help and I was already sitting in here waiting and they just walked him right back in and said, 'here you go'. And it was as simple as that," said Sammantha Tasker, a trained volunteer known as an "Angel".

Tasker was the first Angel called into action.

She helped guide the man into treatment.

"We were able to get him placed. We could have gotten him placed the first, that same day, he chose to stay a little more local and was in treatment the next day," said Lori Ziolkowski who helped bring the program to Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties. She's also involved with Families Against Narcotics which is running the program.

Each of the eight participating police departments are stocked with bins with everything an Angel and the person seeking help might need at the moment.

Some items include snacks, water, a clean shirt and socks, personal hygiene items and more.

"Lot of people who are addicts don't know where to go, to get help. They don't, and especially if they don't have insurance they think nobody can help them. And that's not the case any more," Tasker said.

Others worry about going into a police department. But Saginaw Township Police Chief Don Pussehl said their doors are open. "We don't write a police report, we don't enter them into our computer system."

While the Angels come from a variety of backgrounds, many have a personal connection. Tasker's husband and Ziolkowski's daughter are in recovery.

"I've been on both sides of the spectrum, I understand an addict but I also understand the addicts family and what they're going through," Tasker said.

The man Tasker spoke with is now getting the help he needs, as are a few other people who asked for Hope Not Handcuffs.

"It's more than happiness, it's more than satisfaction, it just really feels like we're saving lives today," Ziolkowski said.

They are still looking for more Angels to be part of the program. Follow the 'Related Link' with this story to learn more. Angels go through a two hour training session and agree to be on call for four hours each month.

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