Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday how $200 million in state funding will be used for new and continuing addiction prevention, treatment and recovery programs and services across the state, leaving some South Jersey providers cautiously optimistic.
Speaking at the non-profit addiction treatment center Integrity House in Newark, Christie said funding will target programs and services for supportive housing, recovery coaches, pregnant and addicted mothers and prison populations, among others.
“The crisis is upon us, well upon us,” he said. “We can’t focus purely on prevention and wipe our hands clean of those already lost to the carnage of addiction. This is where many of the 25 initiatives come into play."
Christie’s announcement came just one day after he, National Institutes of Health experts, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and pharmaceutical executives announced a new anti-opioid partnership between government and pharma to combat addiction on a national level.
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Katelyn Marie Elwell, 18, of Mays Landing
“She was a loving friend to everyone she met and had an infectious laugh.” -Susan Elwell, her mother
Ashley Gitto, 25, of the Lower Bank section of Washington Township.
“We will love you and miss you FOREVER 💔” -Matt, Kathy & Courtney Gitto
Andy Dietrich, 37, of Margate
“Loved life and playing volleyball on the beach with his brothers.”
Michael Firrincilli, 37, of Galloway Township
Died from a heroin overdose on Sept. 28, 2015. He left behind his two daughters, 4 and 19, his long-time girlfriend and his family. He is missed every single day.
“While he wasn’t able to save himself from addiction he did save 5 lives from organ donation and that helped us through his loss because he was the type to give you the shirt off his back and feed whoever needed to eat. He had the biggest heart.”
Raven Kunze, 30, of Toms River
Kunze passed away from an accidental overdose on May 2, 2015.
Melissa A. Endicott, 31, of Absecon
01/14/1986 — 07/02/2017
“She was full of life, ambitious, and had the biggest heart. My sister was more than her addiction and I always want her to be remembered for the beautiful soul she was. Rest peacefully my guardian angel.” -Amanda Endicott, her sister
Samantha Jo Bender, 23, of Gibbstown
Died April 27, 2006
She had a 4-year-old daughter.
Jenny Renee Turner, 32, of Woodbury
8/7/74 - 7/31/07
Turner she passed on July 21, 2007 in Camden after being sober for almost 3 years and left behind a son.
"Not a day goes by we do not miss her and the wonderful caring person she was. I love you Jenny." -Desiree Turner, her sister
Sean Hartley, 33, of Somers Point
Hartley passed away of a heroin overdose on March 15, 2015.
“Hopefully everyone with an addiction sees the pictures of our loved ones that are gone,will seek out the help that they need to overcome their addiction. I miss my son everyday, he will forever be in my heart.” -Patti Nugent, his mother.
Paul (Randy) Lacey, 53, of Egg Harbor Township
“He battled with his addiction to heroin for 10 years. Before that, my father was clean and sober from all mind altering substances for 25 years. He was in a car accident and prescribed pills, which lead to shooting heroin. He left behind his wife of 35 years, his daughter and two grandchildren. Fly high daddy fly high! I hope I make you proud!” -Brandy Henkes, his daughter
James A. “Grizzly” Clark III, 26, of Northfield
Clark overdosed on heroin at the West Palm Beach Airport in Florida and passed away on Dec. 24, 2014.
“He was coming home to Northfield for Christmas to see his son, JJ.” -Donna Clark, his mother
James Matthew Robinson, 27, of Sea Isle City
Died July 7, 2013
“We miss you every single day.”
Justin Toscano, 24, of Egg Harbor Township
4-5-86 to 4-21-12
“Justin was my boyfriend for seven years. We lived together in Philadelphia after I finished college so I could find a job. He went to rehab on Valentine’s Day 2012. After rehab, he seemed like he was finally ready to get clean and almost had a new outlook on life, even after only being approved for a 28-day inpatient rehabilitation program. Unfortunately, Justin relapsed one day while I was at work and I found him dead in our apartment when I got home. Justin was a Union 351 Electrician. The most important thing in his life was working hard, taking care of and being with his family, friends and me. I miss him and think about him everyday.” -Julia Mastalski, his girlfriend
Matthew Mason, 24, of Egg Harbor Township
Mason died three years ago from an overdose.
“There is not one day that goes by that my heart does not ache to just hug him one more time! I love and miss you so much!” -Theresa Allmond-Mason, his mother
Josanna Feldman-Smith, 34, of Galloway Township
“With a hole in our hearts that will never heal. Love always, Dad.” -George Smith, her father
Timothy F. Milam, 31, of Vineland
January 14, 1984 – October 24, 2015
“There’s always gonna be another mountain I’m always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be an uphill battle Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose Ain’t about how fast I get there Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side It’s the climb” Love, Mom and Dad, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews
Christian McCarthy, 45, of Millville
Graduated from The College of New Jersey with honors and Widner Law School.
Died Aug. 18, 2015 of a heroin overdose. Missed very much by his family.
Fred Taylor, 46, of Haddon Heights
Unfortunately passed away on Aug, 21 due to heroin. He did save one life by donating his organs.
Daniel T. Michael, 30, of the Pomona section of Galloway Township
5-19-86 to 6-21-16
Hailey Gabrielle Jones, 19, of the Smithville section of Galloway Township
Passed away Aug. 13, 2014.
"Hailey was a beautiful, vibrant girl whose smile and infectious laugh could light up any room. I miss her more every long day...”
Beau Michael Reilly, 21, of Egg Harbor Township
"Always in our hearts."
Ryan B. Beard, 29, of Point Pleasant
Beloved son and grandson
Rutgers University Graduate
Outstanding baseball player and beloved coach
Jesse Flynn, 22, of Sayreville
"Our son Jesse passed away from a heroin overdose on May 29, 2016. He left behind a daughter only 8 months old and a family who loved him deeply. He was kind, witty and full of dreams! If he had a choice he wouldn't have chosen this disease. He had too much to live for!" -Linda Flynn, his mother
Thomas John Latham, 24, of Hamilton Township
“You are always and forever in our hearts. Your light will always shine! Shine on Tom! We love you!!” -his parents
Mark Aishton, 33, of Galloway Township
“The world will never know what these young men could have accomplished. It is not just our loss but the country’s as well.” -Marilyn Aishton, his mother
Dan Miller, 27, of Mays Landing
“Dan passed 6 years ago due to a drug overdose. Our family looks forward to the day God reunites us all.” -Dave Miller, his father.
George John Lees, 33, of Galloway
Dec. 8, 1982 to April 12, 2016
"One month from his masters. He was dedicated to higher education and he loved his son with all his heart."
Harry F. Snyder, 25, of Marmora
“He was dearly loved and will be forever missed and grieved.” -Maureen and John Snyder, his parents
Michael Hesselbach Jr., 20, Saint Charles, Missouri
Died from a heroin, fentanyl overdose
Brandon D. Cooper, 29, Villas section of Lower Township
"A quote comes to mind: 'Goodbyes hurt the most, when the story was not finished...' It’s up to us, your family and friends, to share your story and keep your memory alive. By raising awareness of this growing epidemic, hopefully we will reduce the stigma surrounding addiction and will help someone regain control of their life. We will continue to share your story, your memory will live on and your death will not be for nothing, we promise you."
Tyler Jay Onesty, 22, of Ocean City
"Loved and respected by many! His story is already saving others as he tried to do till the end of his battle with addiction."
Steven James Schmincke, 26, of Mays Landing
7-4-89 / 3-26-16
"Addiction cannot define Steven's life. He was a good hearted son, brother, father and fiancé. There was so much more to you. We miss and love you Steven." -Bill and Tammy Schmincke, his parents
Dylan Amodio, 24, of West Collingswood Heights
Overdosed on heroin.
"Son, brother, nephew, uncle, step-son, grandson and friend. Thank you. I don't want him to ever be forgotten." -Jane Pinos, his mother
Briana DeSalis, 22, of Philadelphia
She was originally from Mays Landing.
"Lost my angel 02/17. Love and miss her." -Timothy DeSalis
Alexander K. Platt, 24, of Cream Ridge
7/3/1991 - 12/5/2015
"Forever 24, loved and missed beyond measure. Our lives are forever changed without you here with us.
He fought hard started with alcohol in middle school and escalated to heroin. 13 plus rehabs, 2 sober living, 11 overdoses. Maximum time clean and sober was approx. 3 years, 8 months. Related and gone in less than a year.
This disease needs to stop!"
Joshua Gillard, 27, Bay City, Michigan
Gillard accidentally overdosed on March 28, 2017 on fentanyl.
"He has three beautiful children and the love of his life, Sylvia. Deeply missed by family and friends."
Zachary Harrison Wolfe, 24, of Northfield
"Loved beyond words and missed beyond measure."
Justin Curtis Wilsoncroft, 26, Lancaster, Ohio
Wilsoncroft died from a lethal dose of fentanyl on Dec. 11, 2016 in Lancaster Ohio.
"The worst day of my life finding him that morning. Addiction affects the whole family, our lives have changed forever. Forever 26, missed and loved forever."
James Craig Matzen, 24, Troy, New York
"He is deeply missed." -Amanda Kernahan, his sister
King Shaffer, 49, of Marlton
12/07/66 to 10/29/16
John Ryan Chance, 33, Hammonton
7-23-83 to 11-5-16
"He was very caring, funny and charismatic. He leaves behind an 8-year-old son, a sister and his parents. He is forever loved and missed."
Died March 12, 2017
Tyler Berg, 25, of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Berg passed away of a heroin overdose on Feb., 8, 2012
Robert O. Barber, 23, of Denver, Colorado
Barber died on Aug. 21, 2011 from a heroin overdose. He had just finished a 2 month rehabilitation program and had a steady job.
"Rob was a very caring and loving young man. He was a talented soccer player with college team experience. He had many friends and a fun loving personality. His parents and sister, along with many other relatives and friends, miss him every day." -Janice Barber, his mother
Thomas Martin Kelly, 34, of Charlotte, North Carolina
5/23/81 - 12/31/16
"My beautiful second son and father of four."
Shaun Anthony Selby, of Lancaster, Ohio
"Shaun left us way to soon. Loved and missed by many."
Louis De Simone, 26, of Estell Manor
De Simone died on April 26, 2010 from an accidental overdose of Xanax and Methodone.
“He was so full of life with a larger than life sense of humor!!” -Megan De Graaf
Paul Robert Mingin Jr., 34, of Millville
April-9-1982 — May-9-2016
“Your presence is always missed, but our memories keep you alive! Love, your family.”
Robert Edward Collins Jr., 19, of Linwood
Collins died on April 4, 2006.
“Bobby, not a day goes by that you aren't missed. We all love you. Continue to watch over.” -Courtney Collins
John Hunter Madore, 41, of Egg Harbor Township
“Loved and missed everyday.”
Brittany Kane, 22, Wildwood
Amber Nicole Ciccarelli, 26, of Little Egg Harbor Township
10/25/1990 — 10/28/2016
“My beautiful, intelligent, kind, the light in every room, dean’s list, center of our universe, granddaughter, Amber Nicole Ciccarelli. She fought the disease so hard and we thought that she had beat the devil. We never gave up on her, but she was doing so well that we stopped looking for signs. Our world shattered on Oct. 28, 2016, when I went to her room to wake her up and found her dead from an overdose. She left behind many broken hearts — life will never be the same.” -Patrick Rush, her grandfather
Ryan F. Anderson, 33, of Egg Harbor Township
“Wish you were here”
Michael McKeen, 34, of Egg Harbor Township
“When Michael lost his battle with addiction, we lost a son, brother, uncle, friend, confidant, and hero. Michael was the most loyal, generous, devoted, loving, and talented human we’ve known. He had this infectious laugh and sense of humor that could brighten our darkest days. But because of addiction, he just couldn’t brighten his own. We loved him with all of our hearts and will continue to miss him every single day.”
Dennis C Barton, Jr., 30, of Millville
Barton passed away on June 30, 2012.
"The day we lost him, I lost half my heart. My life is completely changed, and I still thank the blessed Lord for the time we had with him. He started using at 16.” -Dorothy E Livingston, his mother
William (Billy) Thomas Dolqueist, 27, of Egg Harbor Township
“It’s been 4 long, lonely and heartbreaking years without you, our family's beautiful boy. You are so very loved and missed.”
Duncan Reid Fitzpatrick, 26, of Somers Point
June 17, 1988 to July 9, 2014
“Duncan was a smart, funny, and handsome boy. He loved playing baseball and hockey. He played the tuba in junior high and high school. A month before he died, we signed a 'contract for life'. He had a new job, a car, and a plan. Then he relapsed and was arrested. He was embarrassed, sad, and lonely. He didn't want to go back to jail. He was in trouble with an Atlantic City gang as well as the police. And so he left us without a goodbye." -Caren Fitzpatrick, his mom
Christopher Lawrence Horner, 18, of Tuckerton
Dan Carty, 36, of Erma
Carty passed away from a drug overdose on Nov. 5, 2016
“He was a great son, grandson, big brother and uncle. He is missed so much. He was one of the smartest people I know and a very kind soul.” -Ashley Carty, his sister
Anthony P. Siddons, 20, of Galloway Township
Siddons passed away of a heroin overdose on April 15, 2015.
“I love and miss you, Daddy. Love, your son, Silas Anthony.”
Raymond Hampton, 31, of Hammonton
Died July 5, 2016
“He leaves behind a 5 year old son and 13 year old stepson. He was the rock of our family.” -Kristin Keubler, his fiance
Billy Egan, 27 of Egg Harbor Township
Died Jan. 25, 2017
“My amazing son was taken way too soon from his sister and I. One fatal decision was all it took. No second chance, no chance for Narcan, rehab, jail, drug court, detox, nothing. 💔 RIP Billy Egan, we love and miss you so much.” -Rebecca Egan, his mother.
Christine Williams (right), 37, of Absecon
“RIP I miss you my Aquarius angel ❤ lucky 33/37.” -Jennifer McGaffney
Michael Kyle Richards, 33, of Mays Landing
Died Oct. 10, 2016
Kyle graduated from Oakcrest High School in 2001 and from Johnson and Wales University in 2006 with a degree in criminal justice. He loved the outdoors, especially hunting with his father and uncle, Paul, but his greatest love was spending time with his daughter, Maddie.
Vincent Battipaglia, 27, of Somers Point
"Always and forever our handsome boy xo."
Brianna “Bree” D. Enright, 21, of Egg Harbor Township
1-15-1996 ❤ 7-19-2017
"Our daughter, sister. Angel on Earth and in Heaven. Your gorgeous smile, warm hugs, bright blue eyes, sense of humor, helpful advise, will live on in us forever!
“Her love for her 17-month-old son Dominic will always be unconditional,” said Lisa Artuso, her mother.
“I want him home and love him more than anything in this entire world. I will always be his mommy. He will always be my son. Home again, where we will all be one.” -Written by Bree, 2017.
Adam Scott McLaughlin, 42, of Absecon
Died Nov. 27, 2014 of a heroin overdose
“I am a 16 year old girl from Hammonton and I am determined to stop the heroin epidemic in my father’s name. My dad was the craziest, funniest, happiest man I knew, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him,” said Makayla McLaughlin, his daughter.
James “Jayman” Huebner III, 30, of Pleasantville
“Beautiful soul taken too soon. Sadly missed by his family. We love you always Jay ❤️”
Jesse James Nicol, 31, of Brigantine
Died July 23, 2016
“Jesse fought a long hard battle in the war of addiction. He always helped his fellow addicts with a smile, encouragement and a helping hand. He was loved by many and dearly missed.” -Molly Alber, his mother
Denny Catalano, 45, of Atlantic City
Catalano died almost four years ago and left behind a 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, heartbroken father and siblings.
“He was one of the greatest men I have ever known and his disease progressed rapidly after he had hip replacement therapy and an aftercare doctor that over prescribed opiates and sedatives for a long period of time, up to the day of his death. I love him and miss him and know I could have still had him if there wasn’t such a stigma against addiction and medication assisted treatment specifically.” -Bob Catalano, his brother
John Garrett Stevenson, 29, of Mays Landing
Died April 3, 2017 just 11 days short of his 30th birthday.
"His parents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews are fighting through the pain of losing Garrett everyday. He was the baby and the light and joy of our family even through the suffering we all faced when this horrible epidemic had taken over him. May he finally Rest In Peace and feel our love and hear our prayers." -Laura Stevenson, his sister
Following a White House opioid commission meeting in Trenton Monday, Christie said health experts and pharmaceutical companies have pledged to work together to develop more nonaddictive pain medications and more medication-assisted treatments for those already with substance use disorders.
On the state level, Christie read through a list of areas where state funding will go to support new and current programs.
Christie said he can take money from other state budget items to put toward a public health crisis, which he intends to do so for the $200 million opioid funding, after an agreement with the state legislature during budget negotiations.
Christie said the funding re-allocations will not lead any significant reductions in other areas. This will be his last action on a major spending program as governor, he said, aside from any unexpected or natural disasters that may occur between now and January.
One of the biggest funding initiatives outlined Tuesday was the creation of an Incentive-Based Opioid Recovery Program under the state Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which will use $40 million to fund three pilot sites where providers pledge to offer holistic care for low-income adults, Medicaid or uninsured adults who have severe opioid-use disorders.
ATLANTIC CITY — Kids wearing purple admission wristbands ran across the boards on Steel Pier…
Christie said providers will get incentive payments when they are able to hit retention, relapse prevention, housing and employment benchmarks among clients.
Other big items include the expansion of the state’s recovery coach program and supportive housing. The former, which just recently came to Atlantic County through AtlantiCare, will get $21 million to establish a program for every county.
The programs certify people in long-term addiction recovery to connect and help others who come through hospital emergency rooms after a drug-related overdose.
The state Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services will use $36 million to expand supportive housing for adults with substance use disorders, though some South Jersey providers questioned if that would include sober living homes, which experts say lack housing designation and oversight in New Jersey.
About $20 million will go toward the expansion of Keeping Families Together programs in Salem, Cape May, Passaic, Essex, Middlesex, Camden, Atlantic, Cumberland and Gloucester counties.
International Overdose Awareness Day, held every Aug. 31, raises awareness about overdose and reduces the stigma of drug-related deaths.
Robin’s Nest, which runs an Atlantic/Cumberland/Gloucester program, provides supportive housing and services for families involved with the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency, formerly the Division of Youth and Family Services. The program helps children stay with parents while they get help for addiction, mental illness and domestic violence.
Alan Oberman, CEO of John Brooks Recovery Center, said while all the initiatives outlined in the governor's plan have good intentions and goals, he has doubts that many of the newer programs will be established and operational before Christie leaves office.
"None of these things are bad in title, but it's about getting into the weeds of it all," he said. "What is this really going to look like when it's implemented, especially with the Request for Proposal processes? They are all good things, but it’s the timelines, implementation and the neglect of funding for more brick-and-mortar development of new facilities and beds that I'm looking at."
Additional state opioid initiatives include:
• $5 million to the state Department of Health to create residential treatment for pregnant women and new mothers suffering from addiction. There will be a new program in each of the northern, central and southern regions of the state.
• $1.2 million will train state Department of Corrections custody staff to administer Narcan. Funds will also provide each staff member with a dose to carry on their person to use on inmates and one Narcan dose to each inmate upon release.
• $1.5 million will double funding used for substance use navigators, who help youth with substance use disorders, their families and community partners working with the state Department of Children and Families.
LOWER TOWNSHIP — Elvis Lynch used to spend about $300 a week on marijuana and alcohol, but a…
• $8 million will be used to help state colleges and universities provide on-campus substance-free housing and supportive services for students in recovery.
• $1.32 will expand a pilot program with a New Jersey college or university to increase training for people to become Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors.
• $1 million will allow state officials to hire Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors at prenatal clinics or other health clinics in counties that have the highest incidence of women who are pregnant and have an opioid addiction.
• Another $1 million will go toward a state Department of Health opioid education campaign for obstetricians that aims to help medical professionals reduce the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, which can result from drug use during pregnancy.
• About $1.8 million will be used to fortify the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, which records prescribing information for patients and prevents people from “doctor shopping”
• The state Medical Examiner’s Office will use $1.75 million to improve laboratory work, technology and staff resources.
• $2 million will be used for ongoing training of state Department of Corrections staff on addiction treatment, drug diversion, confidentiality and other topics.
• The state Department of Education will oversee $2.7 million in funding aimed at helping youth recover from addiction at Knowledge, Empowerment, Youth and Sobriety Academy in Matawan, slated to open Oct. 1, and Raymond Lesniak recovery High School in Union County. The department will offer $100,000 of the funding in grants to plan for a recovery high school in South Jersey.
• $5 million will develop peer recovery support services for parents with substance use disorders who are involved with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. There will be two peer recovery specialists in each county.
• $500,000 will hire five additional Drug and Alcohol Counselors who ensure juvenile parolees continue addiction treatment after leaving prison. The positions will be at Warren Residential Community Home, Northern Regional Transitional Home, Green Residential Community Home and parole unites in Camden, Newark and Trenton/New Brunswick.