Atlantic County officials have been combating a drug epidemic for many years, and it’s only gotten worse.

Officials with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, along with many other community partners, have come together to introduce a new way of dealing with addiction within their community, and it’s called Hope One.

“A lot of people think about hope and they say in their head … ‘I’m hoping for something to occur,’ [or] ‘I’m wishing for something to happen,’” said Eric Scheffler,  Atlantic County Sheriff. “But that’s not the way I see hope.” 

He and his team see hope as an action. The action they have taken was to create Hope One Atlantic County, a mobile outreach and addiction services vehicle.

On Thursday, August 16th, representatives with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, the Sheriff’s Foundation, [and] Legacy Treatment Services, along with many other community partners, unveiled the new bus and their mission, which is to offer support for those combating drug addiction and providing resources regarding substance abuse in the communities where they live.

A recent study has shown that deaths from drug overdoses within Atlantic County have more than doubled from 2016 to 2017.

“People need help,” said Tim Reed, chief warrant officer. “One of the biggest things [is] they need direction. Families need direction of, ‘hey, I have a sick loved one. What can I do for them?’

“They have no idea where to go. We want them to be able to come to the truck and help them immediately.”

The bus will travel into the Atlantic County communities that are hit hardest by this drug epidemic a few days a week.

Hope One will be regularly staffed with an officer, a licensed clinician, and a certified peer recovery specialist.

“Our hope is nothing more than to bring services to the community and help break down those barriers for those who want to get treatment and services, [and] just bring the services to them when they need it most,” said Nick DeRose, chief business officer with Legacy Treatment Services.

“We have so many families throughout Atlantic County who are dealing with addiction and the crisis. And these are good people,” said Senator Chris Brown. “[They are] hard working families that unfortunately find themselves in this situation.”

Scheffler brought the idea to his team and quickly watched it come to fruition without a budget. The entire project was completed through private donations and funding.

They were given the 12-year-old bus by officials with the county and other community partners helped bring it back to life.

“This outreach is exactly what it says. Hope,” said Brown. “And if we could give nothing else, providing hope and letting those know who are dealing with addiction, that they’re loved and they’re cared about, [and] that they are important, is invaluable.”

The bus will be officially up and running in the coming weeks.

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This content was originally published here.