Drug-Free Long Island a Goal

Local organizations focus on families

Five minutes never seemed so long as the film came to a violent conclusion.  The audience of more than thirty at the Community Center in Massapequa Park, Tuesday evening, sat in stunned silence as the Australian-made public service film on driving under the influence ended with the inevitable crashes, injury and death. 

It was a gruesome reminder of why they were there – to support  (DFM), a non-profit organization focused on  transforming Massapequa, Massapequa Park and surrounding towns into a drug-free environment for the safety, health and welfare of the members of the community.

The powerful, no holds barred film, which depicted gruesome accident scenes was just one of the things on DFM's agenda as they updated the community about drug prevention efforts.

"We want to raise awareness of our organization," said DFM president Janice Talento at the monthly meeting. "Our outreach to the schools and partnership with local educators, law enforcement and other agencies like the help reduce the amount of illegal drugs in our area." 

Local teens spoke about the Drug Free Massapequa Junior League program. "We welcome kids from grades 7 to 12," said vice president Brittney Roy. "It's a great way to give back to the community." Roy and Junior League president Sean Brown attend Massapequa High School.

Guest speaker Detective Sergeant Tara Comiskey of the Nassau County Police Department, Community Affairs Division, said that prevention must start early. "In the past I've arrested 10 and 11-year-olds with heroin on them," she said. The good news is that statistics from the department show that heroin arrests are up in 2010 (535 in Nassau County), "but we can't arrest ourselves out of this situation," she added. "We need organizations like DFM to help us."

Drug drop-offs, where residents can get rid of excess prescription medications anonymously are one way to get them away from teens. "Kids are finding these drugs in home medicine cabinets and taking them to school and selling them," said Comiskey. Last year more than five tons of drugs were collected and disposed of properly statewide with the drop-off program. Comiskey also mentioned the "Too Good for Drugs" prevention program for grades K-12 offered at no cost to all school districts in Nassau County. 

Making life better for children who are struggling with issues in the community is the focus for YES. Jamie Bogenshutz, executive director of the non-profit agency said alcohol and marijuana are still the two drugs that cause kids to walk through their doors.  

"We start educating kids in third grade with a basic introduction and decision making strategies," she said. It is also important to educate parents and medical professionals so they understand the ramifications of over prescribing medications like painkillers." Bogenshutz said they also provide counseling, parenting groups and a 'Parent University' program.

Information and awareness of what is going on in your community was an ongoing theme at the meeting.  "Seattle, Washington, has an online 911 map on the Internet tied to local police incident reports," said Drug Free Massapequa board member Bob Montini. "It gives a real time view of drug and other activity in your neighborhood." The map is available at http://web5.seattle.gov/mnm/policereports.aspx

"Please come down to our meetings and help us meet our goal so that no child stands alone to fight this epidemic," said Talento. "We need your help to get this done." 


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