FAN seeks volunteers to launch Hope Not Handcuffs in Pointes

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 8, 2023

GROSSE POINTE CITY/PARK — For those with substance use problems and the people who love them in the Grosse Pointes, “Hope” is on the way.

Hope Not Handcuffs, an initiative of the nonprofit Families Against Narcotics, is coming to the public safety departments of Grosse Pointe City and Grosse Pointe Park. The program assists those who want to get help for their addiction to find treatment.

Dean Dauphinais, a Grosse Pointe City resident and the communications manager for FAN, addressed the Grosse Pointe City Council Jan. 23. As he explained, Hope Not Handcuffs allows a person with addiction who wants treatment to come to a designated location, typically a police station. A public safety officer or dispatcher then contacts FAN’s call center, which sends a volunteer — called an “angel” — to the station to help the patient as the call center looks for a place where the patient can get treatment.

“Getting someone help for a substance abuse disorder is not an easy process,” Dauphinais said. “The object is to get them help when they want it.”

Dauphinais knows the challenges firsthand — he said his 33-year-old son has struggled with addiction for the last 17 years.

“It’s a difficult process,” Dauphinais said. “If you haven’t gone through it, you kind of need a GPS to guide you.”

Grosse Pointe City was the first of the Pointes to announce its participation — the City Council unanimously approved it at a meeting Jan. 23 — but City Public Safety Director John Alcorn said all of the Pointes plan to participate. Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Director Bryan Jarrell spoke to his council about the program at a Feb. 13 council meeting. While a formal launch hasn’t been announced yet — Alcorn and Jarrell both said officers need to go through training first — FAN is holding a volunteer event this Friday.

Volunteers to service the program in the Pointes are needed. According to FAN, volunteers need to be “reliable, compassionate, non-judgmental, patient, familiar with a cell phone and having a minimum of 1 year of continued sobriety (if in recovery).” A volunteer training and informational program will take place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 10 at the Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Department, 15115 E. Jefferson Ave. To sign up for this program or for more information, visit or call (833) 202-HOPE (4673).

“A lot of people like to think there’s not a drug problem in Grosse Pointe,” Dauphinais said. “There is. It’s a problem, and we’re just trying to make it easier for people to get help.”

Grosse Pointe City Councilman Donald Parthum Jr. said two of his good friends had children who battled drug addiction.

“I commend you on the work you do,” Parthum told Dauphinais.

While most of the people getting help through Hope Not Handcuffs are battling opioid or alcohol addictions, Dauphinais said a person with any addiction is welcome to seek their assistance.

Dauphinais said FAN puts Hope Not Handcuffs bins in public safety stations that provide essentials such as water and a change of clothing, so the person seeking treatment doesn’t need to go home first. He said they’re stationed in 123 police buildings in Michigan, including those in St. Clair Shores and Harper Woods.

Alcorn said he spoke to St. Clair Shores’ police chief about this program, and he was told the city has had no problems or complaints.

“It was just a great community outreach (program),” Alcorn said.

Grosse Pointe City Attorney Chuck Kennedy said that, in the past, if someone with a substance abuse problem sought help from public safety, it would mean that one of the department’s detectives would spend about half a day assisting them. He said a family member is typically the person who brings in the patient.

“This is spectacular to have this program,” Kennedy said. “It’s not increasing the burden on (public safety). … It’s providing a solution.”

Grosse Pointe City Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak asked how public safety would handle someone who came into the department with warrants against them.

“The best practice is to shy away from the enforcement side,” Alcorn said. “We want to be known as a welcoming, safe haven.”

Dauphinais said the FAN staff and volunteers are “very passionate” about what they do. Both he and his wife left their jobs to work with FAN, which is based in Macomb County but helps families across the region. Since FAN launched Hope Not Handcuffs in February 2017, FAN has aided more than 9,100 people seeking treatment. Dauphinais said they placed more than 2,000 people into treatment programs last year alone.

“It’s a great program,” Grosse Pointe City Councilman Seth Krupp said.

Alcorn said the person seeking treatment can be a resident of any community, not just Grosse Pointe City or one of the other Pointes.