NORFOLK — After years of borrowing space for meetings and support groups to help people with substance abuse disorders, the SAFE Coalition will finally have a home soon.
Next month, the grassroots organization will hold an open house at its first permanent office: 206 Dedham St., Suite E, at the corner of routes 1A and 115 in Norfolk.
The open house will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13.
“Opening this office and conference space will allow us to grow and more efficiently provide services to those communities that mean so much to us. We will no longer have to store our materials in our collective garages. We are now able to centralize many of our services,” Steve Spiewakowski, the secretary of the board of directors for SAFE, said in an email.
The office space is important because it will provide a private and safe space to conduct meetings and for individuals to meet with grief counselors and therapists, Spiewakowski said.
The group, formed in 2015, is staffed entirely by volunteers, including members of law enforcement and the justice system. They rely on donations, fundraising and grants to fund the programming for those affected by substance abuse disorders.
The coalition serves many towns in western Norfolk County, including Foxboro, Mansfield, Norfolk, Plainville, Wrentham and Mansfield.
It works with law enforcement, first responders, schools and community groups to help people affected by the opioid epidemic. It has conducted community forums and has volunteers certified to train citizens on how to administer Narcan, which reverses the effects of opioids, and are licensed to distribute it.
The new office will be dedicated to Brian Hamlin Jr. He died in 2014 at age 32 of a non-substance abuse seizure after becoming addicted to painkillers following shoulder surgery in 2003. He was living in North Attleboro and in recovery at the time of his death.
His parents, Brian and Robin Hamlin, will speak during the dedication. Robin Hamlin runs a support group at the center for parents affected by substance abuse disorder. Brian Hamlin is a member of the group’s board of directors.
Inside the office there will be a “Hidden in Plain Sight” display offering parents insights into current trends in youth substance abuse, drug paraphernalia, concealment of illicit drugs and alcohol.
Massachusetts ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths involving opioids. In 2017, there were 1,913 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in Massachusetts, a rate of 28.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is twofold higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.