Heroin Awareness Summit Kicks Off 100 Deadliest Days

“Never allow yourself to think that it can’t happen to your kid,” Charles Bernard, Special Agent for the DEA.
“Never allow yourself to think that it can’t happen to your kid,” Charles Bernard, Special Agent for the DEA.
“It’s important for communities to have honest discussions,” said Jacci Harris in her News12 interview.  “We are now in what they call “the 100 most deadliest days,” and we want parents to have the best and very latest information available to help keep their kids safe.”
“It’s important for communities to have honest discussions,” said Jacci Harris in her News12 interview. “We are now in what they call “the 100 most deadliest days,” and we want parents to have the best and very latest information available to help keep their kids safe.”
“Heroin use among teens on Long Island is skyrocketing and for many kids, the consequences are fatal,” said Steven Chassman, of LICADD.
“Heroin use among teens on Long Island is skyrocketing and for many kids, the consequences are fatal,” said Steven Chassman, of LICADD.
Hosting the summit, Stimson principal Mr. Edwin Smith leads a Q&A portion of the program.
Hosting the summit, Stimson principal Mr. Edwin Smith leads a Q&A portion of the program.
“Everyone should get a second chance, an opportunity to start over,” said Matt Pisani. Unfortunately for heroin users, many never get a second chance.
“Everyone should get a second chance, an opportunity to start over,” said Matt Pisani. Unfortunately for heroin users, many never get a second chance.

The South Huntington School District recently sponsored a Heroin Awareness Summit, and concerned parents, many with children in tow, spent an important 90 minutes arming themselves with information pertaining to this scourge on our community. The doors opened at 5:30, but community resource groups were available to attendees who arrived before the first speaker, Mr. Matt Pisani, began to speak. Mr. Pisani is a recovering addict who turned his life around and now does motivational speaking, mixing his message with a multimedia presentation.

“Whether it’s bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, or toxic relationships, everyone has a chance to wipe the slate clean. Everyone should get a second chance, an opportunity to start over,” said Mr. Pisani. “Parents, do not give up on your family, and do not give up on being a parent. Persevere.”

South Huntington Board of Education Trustee Mr. Edward Nitkewicz spoke about the importance of a strong community and the district’s responsibility to help parents and their children. Mr. Nitkewicz had the pleasure of introducing sixth grader Daniel Kulesa. Daniel possesses an ample supply of wit, humor, and stage presence, and while acknowledging the seriousness of the evening’s purpose, he clearly enjoyed introducing Schools Superintendent Dr. Dave Bennardo. “This is a very important evening that brings our school district together for a powerful night of discussions regarding an epidemic that is impacting families across the nation,” said Dr. Bennardo. “It is remarkable to note the broad spectrum of community members who join together tonight in the hard discussions required for true drug abuse awareness and prevention.”

Summit attendees then got some straight facts from Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration Mr. Charles Bernard. “Over the past 5 to 10 years, through the impact of arrests and public outreach, people have come to realize the dangers posed by illicit pharmacital drugs,” said Agent Bernard. “But unfortunately many addicts have morphed back into heroin because it’s so readily accessible.

“Never say it’s not going to happen to my kid. The risks are way too great,” added Agent Bernard. “Never allow yourself to think that it can’t happen to your kid, because when it does happen to your kid, it happens to your family, and that’s a disaster that can tear you all apart.” Echoing Agent Bernard’s message but from a slightly different perspective was Mr. Steven Chassman, LCSW, CASAC, Clinical Director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence (LICADD). “Heroin use among teens on Long Island is skyrocketing,” said Mr. Chassman. “And for many kids, the consequences are fatal.”

The LICADD website notes that heroin use among teens on Long Island first started to get some long-overdue attention after the overdose death of 18-year-old Natalie Ciappa in June 2008. Following her daughter’s death, Doreen Ciappa told reporters, “It’s difficult to admit your child took heroin. It was difficult for us to admit it to ourselves. She was beautiful. She was smart. She did not look like a heroin addict.”

The South Huntington Heroin Awareness Summit was presented and coordinated by Deputy Superintendent Ms. Jacqueline Harris. “I want to thank everyone who organized, presented, and participated in our successful Heroin Awareness Summit,” said Ms. Harris. “We also thank all of the local agencies specializing in substance abuse and prevention that were in attendance to meet with parents to discuss questions and concerns. There is much to be proud of in our South Huntington community, but we must continue to work together, as we have tonight, to address the very real issues that confront American society.”

Please use the following link for the News12 coverage of Heroin- Not Our Town: 

http://longisland.news12.com/news/huntington-station-school-holds-meeting-on-heroin-epidemic-1.8211743