February 23, 2012 —

A few weeks ago, I headed down to Washington, DC, to speak at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Leadership forum on behalf of the Five Moms campaign and to share a bit about my book club, The Northport Community Book Club, which focuses on preventing teen substance abuse. It was such a pleasure to meet people who share my same passion to keep our kids and communities safe. The most rewarding part of my trip was the positive feedback and comments I received about the speech I gave at the CADCA Leadership forum. It was so nice to share the story of my son’s addiction and recovery and how our family has struggled through this nightmare without being judged. We must teach people not to judge us as parents and most importantly not to judge our children affected by addiction. We must work together to help them recover and lead positive, healthy lives. There is hope and we must show our support.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous because I usually speak to groups of 25 or less, and I knew that 2,500 people attend the leadership forum! That said, it was exciting to share the message of community drug prevention on a wider scale. Many of the people at the conference work for drug prevention organizations around the country, so it was really helpful to share and learn from what others are doing. I learned that as a community we must all work together. All members of the community play a vital role in keeping our community safe. It was wonderful to connect with so many people; everyone I talked to was interested to hear about what they can do to make a difference in their community. In fact, many were interested to learn more about the Northport Community Book Club and it was so invigorating to see the impact it could have nationwide.

While in DC, I also met with Congressman Steve Israel (D), who represents New York’s 2nd Congressional District, including my hometown of Northport, Long Island. Congressman Israel and I had a great conversation about the drug problem on Long Island and specifically what can be done to prevent medicine abuse. I was happy to learn that Congressman Israel supports legislation to combat drug use, and we’re hoping to team up for a future event to raise awareness of this important issue. It’s so important that parents, educators, law enforcement officials and legislators work together to combat medicine abuse; in order to be successful, we all have to do our part.

It was a fun-filled two days, and I was excited to get home and share my experience with my students, my family and other members of my community. When I started the Northport Community Book Club I never imagined that we would make such an impact on so many lives and on a national level. I threw myself into helping others at a time in my life when I thought I was losing my own son forever. We all need to do our part to protect our teens. Every day that my son is drug-free is a joy and I want all parents to know this feeling. Next time I’m in DC will be for the Marine Corp Marathon in October, and I’m excited to see what progress the other Moms and I have made by then!