In the rural area known as the Key Peninsula, it’s not just the quaint country roads and tall trees that catch Jeremiah Saucier’s eye.
It’s the needles and drug paraphernalia that he finds lying on the ground.
“I run about four or five days a week,” said Saucier, a Key Center resident and state-licensed drug and alcohol treatment counselor.
“You see the little orange thing, and that just draws your attention to it,” said Saucier as he holds up a shoebox partially filled with hypodermic needles.
The box contains needles, plungers, and the orange caps that are used to cover the needle.
“What it tells me is we have a problem out here,” said Saucier.
That’s why Saucier has been trying to help addicts in this finger of land in Pierce County on the south end of the Kitsap Peninsula.
Saucier’s dream of breaking ground on an in-patient drug and alcohol treatment center in Key Center has taken a big step forward with the launch of a fundraising campaign this week.
The Hope Recovery Center is a proposed 50 bed treatment facility to be built on the grounds owned by the Lakebay Community Church.
Several local politicians and criminal justice officials have thrown their support behind the project.
“There’s a lot of support for this treatment center, because there’s a lot of need, and because this will make the community safer,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
Lindquist said drugs can be more of a problem in rural areas than in the big city, because addicts in faraway places have less access to resources.
Saucier, himself a recovering addict, owns and manages Crossroads Treatment Center in Lakewood.
He says it’s important to provide addicts with treatment options in the place where they live, not in treatment centers in big cities far away from their homes and families.
Matt, a 37-year-old former heroin user, says the treatment center is desperately needed on the Key Peninsula.
“It eliminates the excuse. Your resources are right here. It’s hard to get off the Key Peninsula. There’s no transportation,” said Matt, who declined to give his last name.
Saucier hopes to raise approximately $4,000,000 through private donations and federal grants to fund construction of the Hope Recovery Center. He says about $50,000 has been raised by private donors so far.
He hopes to break ground in about two years.