The NOPE Task Force hosts community candlelight vigil for those lost to overdose


NOPE creates dramatic and impactful presentations for students and community members using volunteer and School Resource Officers’ grim personal experiences to educate 6th through 12th graders about the consequences of experimentation with drugs. This candlelight vigil has been held for 12 of the 14 years since the Hillsborough chapter was created. Michele Phillips has been with the chapter since its inception, first as a family speaker, and then as president. Her dedication and determination are driven by the memory of her son who passed away from an overdose at 14 years old. Now, as a volunteer, she focuses her efforts on education and prevention offering this message:

“One of the first things we always said is that we know we can’t save everybody, but if we help one person make a better choice, then we have done what we needed to do.”

Lynne Knowles is the vice president of the task force. She stresses that the disease of drug addiction does not discriminate.

“Addiction, drug use, overdose, there’s no boundaries. You could be from Park Place, or live on a park bench; addiction does not care who you are, what you have, where you work, who your friends are, who your parents are. It can grab ahold of you so quickly. And it can take your life in just one experimental time, especially with fentanyl now.”

Overdose calls in Hillsborough County attributed to fentanyl topped 438 over the past year. Florida Governor and presidential hopeful, Ron DeSantis, has recently promised that those smuggling drugs across the southern border would end up… quote… “stone cold dead” and that he would …quote… “use the U.S. military to go after the Mexican drug cartels”.


At times we may want to fight fire with fire. But other times we might light a candle, offer an embrace, and create hope.

If you, a family member, or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse and are seeking guidance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline is 1-800-662-4357.


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