I've been thinking about ... the unique position Carroll County leadership finds itself in the new fight against drugs and violence.
The reason? We've been here before. In the 1990s, Carroll County suffered through a similar epidemic and fought back with programs that included the widely distributed video, "Heroin Kills" produced by Junction and the Carroll County Health Department. Thanks to the leadership of Linda Auerback, that video was locally produced and distributed not only here but throughout the United Stated and abroad.
Our State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo has taken a leadership role among his peers in the current battle. He has many allies among the state and county agencies and the nonprofits in Carroll County.
This alliance was well demonstrated last Thursday, April 28. The Danele Shipley Arena in Westminster was the site of the 2016 Drug and Violence Awareness Expo. It seems that any organization that could even remotely be helpful in the fight was present. Both local colleges were represented, the hospital, the Health Department, social services, HSP, the Shoemaker Center, several funds of the Community Foundation — Catherine's Cause. PADDD, Rising Above Addiction, Silver Oak Academy, Triangle Recovery Club, Foolproof — several faith-based groups and multiple law enforcement agencies.
With all of these people for you, who can be against you?
The answer to that question is a very organized and sophisticated criminal enterprise that sees Carroll County as a center of profit for their nefarious business. It is absolutely essential that our community recognize the danger we face and work together to defeat it. We made a good start on April 28.
The Carroll County Public School System sent 15 busloads of middle and high school students and they visited with the vendors and benefited from the programs that were presented throughout the day. Many parents and other community members came to the expo, some to gather information, some to express support because of their own journey of recovery, others to express gratitude for the many services available to those addicted and services for the families impacted by addiction. They all benefited from the speakers who told the story of losing a child to drugs, of the impact of violence on youth development and on the well-being of our senior population, of the need of parental knowledge of the language and symbols of gangs, drug trends in Carroll County, dispelling myths about domestic violence and child sexual abuse.
The day ended with a performance by Foolproof, our local improvisational troop led by Paul Zimmerman, and closing remarks by DeLeonardo. Several Carroll County commissioners, mayors, municipal councilmembers, the sherriff, law enforcement officers and Del. Susan Krebs attended.
It is impossible to exaggerate the impact addiction of every kind has on the life of our community. Any social problem you care to name can be traced back to that one issue. They include but are not limited to, domestic violence, not only in the nuclear family but among seniors; rape, child abuse, failure to thrive, low birth weight, gang activity, anti-social behavior, drunk and drugged driving, poor school performance because parents aren't parenting, workplace absenteeism, theft, fraud and house breaking.
Not one of us — as people, agencies of government or nonprofits — has the capacity to contend with such a huge problem by ourselves. But if we each do our part and respectfully acknowledge the value of each contribution made toward a solution and work together? Nothing is impossible.
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Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.