Vernon Coalition recognizes founders

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  • Some of the people impacted by substance abuse disorder.

  • Founding members of the Vernon Coalition are recognized at the appreciation dinner. Attendees are from left to right, Rebecca Dorney, Janet Kubik, Jeanne Buffalino, Cindi Auberger, Becky Carlson, and Conor Brennan.

  • Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch addresses the Vernon Coalition attendees.

The Vernon Coalition Appreciation Dinner recognized, Monday, Oct. 2, founding members and members during a buffet dinner at the Lamp Post Inn, winner of the People's Choice Award, 2017 Taste of Vernon.

Vernon Coalition Senior Coordinator Rebecca Dorney told the crowded room, “We are the Vernon Coalition,” and thanked everyone in the room for their work.

Dorney said the Vernon Coalition was founded in 2010 as a result of the loss of five young people due to heroin, within a very short period. At that time, she continued, key stake holders said, “Enough.”

Dorney also said the Vernon Coalition won the 2016 Outcomes Coalition of the year, plus, came in fourth nationwide. She added, it was because of the work which had been done since 2010. Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch also said thank you to the room. He continued they have tried to find the answer through law enforcement — arresting their way out it. However, he said, law enforcement by itself is not the answer, but needs to be part of the community out reach in order to solve the problem.

He said parents and children also need to be educated about the dangers of opiates when used for pain management and the addiction potential.

The “Knock out Opiate” meeting, Koch continued, where Gov. Christie spoke of dedicating $200 million, is a program which needs to be started. He added in one, maybe two generations, children will understand at a younger age the dangers of getting into a substance abuse disorder.

The new passed laws, he said, with limits on the number opiate prescription days, will also lessen the chance of people getting hooked.

He then said the C.L.E.A.R. Program, with the Center for Prevention and Counseling, is a huge next step, and law enforcement is 100 percent behind it. In addition, he said, all law enforcement carries Narcan in order to save lives from overdose and get them on the road to recovery.

Executive Director of the Center for Prevention and Counseling Becky Carlson remembered gathering in 2010 in Vernon with some of the people in the room to address problems as a result of the overdoses.

She remembered about 15 of the founding coalition members breaking into groups, looking at the data, and choosing under age drinking and marijuana as the first problem to address. “How very powerful it was,” she said, after looking at the data and seeing the first issue would not be heroin, as they had initially thought.

Carlson said she was really excited about engaging, motivating, and empowering the kids and encouraged everyone to engage kids in the schools, neighborhood, and houses of worship.

She spoke of the book, “Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand,” which identified 40 different assets needed to make kids successful, utilizing all the different sectors in the community: individuals, elders, houses of worship, businesses, schools, government, and law enforcement.

Through the alliance, she said, they have an asset building workshop with kids and Senior Citizens. She added, asset building is part of the new five year grant, and Rebecca will do workshops in the coming school year.

Dorney said the coalition received 601 responses to their recent parent survey and recognized a number of founding members in the room. She also introduced the new Youth Coordinator, Conor Brennan, as former Youth Coordinator Gemma Chalkley stays home with her child.

With a poignant silence, Brennan pointed to many blue people paper cut-outs hanging on a board in the room. Attendees had been asked to write the name of a person suffering from substance abuse disorder. Brennan said, “Look at how many people are impacted. We all are impacted.”

He then pointed to a board on the other side of the room, with bright colored people cut-outs. Attendees had written one thing they could do this year to change substance abuse disorder among youth. Brennan commented, imagine if the Vernon community came together and each did one thing to change substance abuse disorder among the youth, thus, eliminating the other board of suffering people.

Carlson later gave an invitation to the community to join the Vernon Coalition. She said, “No experience needed, just bring your special talents. Everybody's got something to offer in the coalition.

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