Former Livingston County District Court Administrator Francine Zysk - who has also been a passionate voice for opioid awareness — is leaving the country to become a teacher in China.

Zysk, who is divorced and has a grown daughter, Kaitlyn, has sold her Brighton home and was scheduled to leave this weekend for a nation of over a billion people, halfway around the world.

Zysk, who is 49, is also a former chief probation officer in Livingston County and Outreach Coordinator for the last two years at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton. She says her ministry there “has been to give voice to those who don’t have one.”

After she resigned from her position with the Livingston County court system, Zysk was hired by Total Court Services, which provides electronic monitoring for the courts and agencies in Michigan and three other states. Zysk also recently resigned from her part-time position as an adjunct instructor in Criminal Justice at Madonna University in order to take the new position in China. Zysk says she is leaving the country because when she climbed the Great Wall of China last year, she had “a feeling of accomplishment,” adding she was “hungry to continue (her) journey.”

Zysk started Project Opiate in 2010. She has established outreach programs, training people for such volunteer work as administering NARCAN to opiate users, which binds to opioid receptors in the brain to reverse an overdose. She also set up a support group for those who have lost loved ones called “Heaven’s Hope”.

Likewise, Zysk has developed programs for International Overdose Awareness Day, observed on Aug. 31st, with speakers such as former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Randy Grimes, whose football-related injuries led to an addiction to prescription pills. Last September, the Brighton City Council presented a mayoral proclamation to Zysk for her considerable efforts on behalf of Opioid Awareness.

Zysk has also been involved in a number of charitable works as an individual, such as making sandwiches to distribute to the homeless in Detroit, filling backpacks with food and other items, which she passed out from her car.

Teresa Martin of Hartland, whose son died last year from an overdose of cocaine laced with deadly Fentanyl, credits Zysk for getting her through that difficult time. Martin says that in Zysk, she sees “grace, strength and compassion,” saying she is going to do wonderful things in China because “she touches people wherever she goes.”

Dannie Carpenter, who runs a recovery house in Howell, became familiar with Zysk when he was a recovering addict and she was the county’s chief probation officer, saying she never gave up on him and kept him focused on overcoming his addiction. Carpenter says Zysk has been his role model, adding that he is "following in her footsteps.” (TT)