Commissioner shares personal opioid story

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY,NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says, in the last 10 years, 243 people lost their lives in New Hanover County to opioids.

“Saw my baby almost die before my eyes,” Jonathan Barfield, Jr., chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners said. “I was right there with her, but to see her lifeless body shook me like never before to the point that I couldn’t sleep last night.”

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Tuesday morning, amid tears and long pauses, Barfield spoke as a father and shared his story.

“Yesterday, my 24-year-old daughter overdosed at a doctor’s office and its a struggle that we’ve been dealing with for a while,” Barfield said. “This is something that hits every home and it’s more important now than ever that the community come together and help fight.”

Pastor Patrick Hall, who leads Cape Fear Free Will Baptist Church, is trying to help this fight. Hall wants to unite faith based organizations and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office to create an emergency shelter, a substance abuse commission, a sponsorship, greater foster care and a national community outreach day.



Kathi Spivey with the the Department of Social Services says there are 400 children in foster care in New Hanover County with 46% due to substance abuse.

Barfield says he did not want to attend, but it was the right place for him to share his story and continues to ask for prayers.

“All I can do is believe God for healing for my daughter,” Barfield said. “I keep telling her she is the child of a king with kingdom privileges. She’s the head and not the tail and it’s important she knows that too.”

Barfield encourages other parents to love their children and be engaged in their lives. He says this is a disease that we can work together to fight.