Tony Operation SOK
After the loss of my grandson to heroin in 2009, I went into retirement and started a local crusade against drugs and the local gangs that perpetuate the availability and use of them. I called my crusade “Operation SOK” and went about meeting with all the important community leaders to explain myself, my goals, and my vision.
With the increase in drug use and its availability, along with drive-by gunfire, I felt my great-granddaughter and other young children weren’t even safe when riding their trikes down the sidewalk or playing in the park, where they might step on a hypodermic needle.
It took us one year to bring people together in the formation of a county-wide Drug Task Force to fight this addiction problem. Serving on three of its committees and another coalition charged with the prevention of drug addiction has been challenging at times but worth the effort. As a community volunteer, I can pretty much speak my mind without stepping on any political toes or jeopardizing my job. I’ve found this to be valuable when speaking out about “stigma”! Today I go to every drug conference and training session that I can to educate myself and share my story and what I learn with others. I write, I speak, and all to raise community awareness of the hidden life that most addicts live without a support system. Now my goal is to see the establishment of a residential/detox center in my community that can hopefully operate without the huge costs usually associated with recovery.