Mercer County Organizations and Businesses Come Together to Address the Opioid Epidemic

Mercer County Organizations and Businesses Come Together to Address the Opioid Epidemic

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The ONE Project, a faith and community coalition organized to efficiently and effectively address social needs through education and volunteerism, teamed up  on February 24, 2018, with the Robbinsville School District, the Robbinsville Police Department, Camp Fire NJ, Robbinsville Municipal Alliance for the Prevention of Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Recovery Advocates of America, The Overdose Prevention Agency Corporation (TOPAC), Nar-Anon, and City of Angels to host the first Recovery Project.

Last year, almost 2,000 people in New Jersey died from opioid overdoses. In response, 300 community volunteers from different cultures and backgrounds came together to donate and pack over 600 hygiene kits for teens in drug recovery. They also heard about the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic from leaders in the recovery community.

After introductions by Dan Greco (ONE Project) and Katie Foster (Superintendent of Robbinsville Schools), speakers such as Diana Dubbs (The Way Foundation), Michael Ziccardi (Recovery Advocates of America), Art Ackerman (City of Angels), Celeste Diehl (TOPAC & Nar-Anon), Kelly Nitti (Camp Fire NJ), and Sgt. Scott Kivet (Robbinsville Police Department) spoke to the crowd about their experiences with the opioid epidemic, as well as the dangers of heroin and fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid.  Volunteers learned that heroin deaths have doubled since 2013 and fentanyl deaths have risen by 2,000% in that same time frame.

On Friday, February 23, 2018, the community partners held assemblies at Pond Run Middle School and Robbinsville High School where Mercer County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Katz along with Sgt. Scott Kivet and Diana Dubbs educated students about the dangers of opioids and about the Overdose Prevention Act, which is intended to save lives by encouraging people to seek medical assistance whenever a drug overdose occurs.  Students were especially excited to see a drug detecting demonstration by K9 Quori, a Labrador retriever for the Robbinsville Police Department.

Students and staff from Robbinsville High School led by Ashley Stamboulian and Aanya Gupta collected thousands of personal hygiene products over the past month which were used to create the hygiene kits. As stated by ONE Project Board member and founder of the Robbinsville High School ONE Project Club, Ashley Stamboulian, “I am continually amazed by the generosity and commitment of our community. These past two days have shown me that when we come together we can start to address this growing problem.  If we helped even one student in their struggle against opioids then it has all been worth it.”

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