According to Rico Jones Fernandez, much like Seattle, the Tulalip tribal reservation is seeing a spike in overdose deaths. As a member of the tribe, Fernandez regularly finds used needles while walking through the reservation's wooded areas, KING 5 reported.
"The overdose death rate on the reservation in six times higher than it is for whites in Snohomish County, where drug use is already an epidemic," KING 5 reported.
After his mother, Lois Luella Jones, died of a painkiller addiction at 42, Fernandez created the tribe's Good Samaritan Law, which prevents people from being arrested for drug crimes if they call police to report an overdose.
In addition to working to provide clean needles for drug users, Fernandez also distributes kits of Naloxone, an overdose antidote, to community members to enable them to help their neighbors. Fernandez has been paying for the kits, which run about $60 a pop, out of his own pockets, KING 5 reported.
But Fernandez is now calling on his community to expand his work by donating to his cause through a GoFundMe page. Donations would go towards needle and drug paraphernalia cleanup equipment and additional Naloxone kits, which would be distributed to tribal members.
He writes on the campaign page:
I have been an activist for 4 years and in that time have written Tulalip's 911 good Samaritan law and got it passed, got Naloxone in our pharmacy and led a social media campaign to promote it, volunteered at a needle exchange for 6 months and convinced them to expand their access in Tulalip, and connected people to resources. All under a volunteer basis. These are the main places these resources will go.
This is very personal to me, but needs to be said on July 10th 2010 I lost my Mom to an overdose and I promised my Son when he was older this would be a better place to live.
The place we call home according to Sno county health report 2015 has much higher death rates than Washington state. For instance 2011 Sno county experienced 18% of heroin related deaths though only [compromising] 10% of Washington State's. We need this and I am willing to do it. I have been doing it. But I need assistance to make a bigger impact.
(Breaks were added for readability.)
Currently, Fernandez has raised $765 of his $4,000 goal. You can help him by donating to his GoFundMe campaign here.