FLEMINGTON, NJ - A town hall-style meeting will be held tomorrow at Voorhees High School to discuss Hunterdon's ongoing heroin epidemic.

“We need everyone involved in the Hunterdon community to help make a positive change,” said Lesley Gabel, Co-Executive Director of Hunterdon Prevention Resources. “There were 12 heroin overdose deaths in Hunterdon County in 2015 and another 16 lives were saved by the administration of the life-saving drug Naloxone which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. We are hoping that these Community Conversation events will continue to bring our community together to address the serious heroin and drug addiction that is ongoing in our county.”

The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m.The school is at 256 Route 513 in Lebanon Township.

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“Unfortunately, families in our sending districts have been affected personally by the heroin epidemic in our county,” said Jeff Hunt, Student Assistance Counselor at Voorhees High School. “By facilitating this conversation among community residents, our intent is to come up with an action plan for how to deal with this crisis so other families are not torn apart.”

As Amanda B. knows first-hand, a heroin addiction does not just involve the heroin user. Families and friends are also affected. Amanda is a former Voorhees student who is now in recovery from a heroin addiction. She feels very strongly about giving back to the community that has helped her get clean and sober. “It is important to me to speak out about heroin and how it can destroy your life. I am in a better place now that I am clean and am in a position to help fight for those who are not yet strong enough to fight for themselves. This evening is all about saving lives.”

An interactive evening, with a panel of experts and community members, will discuss the issue of Opioid Use, Abuse and Addiction in our community. The panel will include:

  • Moderator:  Karen A. Widico, HPR Co-Executive Director
  • Assemblyman Erik Peterson
  • Anthony P. Kearns III – Hunterdon County Prosecutor
  • Jeff Hunt – Voorhees Student Assistance Coordinator
  • Sgt. Thomas DeRosa, Clinton Township Police Department
  • Shobha Mirchandani, Daytop, Treatment Perspective
  • Helen Carey – Perspective of a Parent
  • Amanda B. – Hunterdon County Recovery Support Center and a former Voorhees student currently in recovery

“We would like to thank our panelists for their participation in this event,” said Karen A. Widico, Co-Executive Director of HPR. “It speaks to the importance of this matter to have Assemblyman Erik Peterson and Prosecutor Kearns share in this conversation on heroin. This epidemic is everyone’s problem and it cannot be ignored.”

This town-hall style summit will include an audience Q&A, as well as a solution-based breakout session to brainstorm and provide ideas and feedback on how to tackle this growing heroin epidemic in our community. The event is part of the North Hunterdon – Voorhees Community Health & Wellness Education Series and is intended for parents, youth and community members from its sending districts; however, all are welcome.

To register, or for more information, please call 908-782-3909 or email Cathy Canterino at ccanterino@hunterdonprevention.com.  Childcare is available upon request.  Pre-registration is strongly recommended but not required for childcare.

About HPR: Hunterdon Prevention Resources supports the health and wellness of individuals, families, and the communities we serve by providing education, counseling, advocacy for policies, and collaboration necessary to keep our communities healthy and drug free. For confidential help or for services or programs, call 908-782-3909. For more information on the organization, visit online at www.hunterdonprevention.com, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HPRNJ.

About Safe Communities Coalition: The goal of the Safe Communities Coalition is to live in a safe and healthy community by eliminating drug use, underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. Through widespread community collaboration, environmental change, and community education in Hunterdon and Somerset counties, the Safe Communities Coalition will address areas of concern including, but not limited to, reducing Rx drug abuse across the lifespan, underage drinking, tobacco, marijuana, heroin, and other drug use. For more information on the coalition, visit www.safecoalition.org or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SafeCommunitiesCoalition, Twitter @HSCoKnowINFO or Instagram at safe_communities.