By Mary O’KEEFE
On April 7, a new program will begin in the Crescenta Valley titled Crescenta Valley – It Takes a Village. The purpose of the program is to bring organizations and individuals together to discuss issues in the community and offer resources for those in need.
“We have amazing resources here [in our community]. I didn’t learn about them until after my daughter had died,” said Hannah Sheklow.
Sheklow’s daughter Elannah Rose died in 2012; she was addicted to heroin. Elannah Rose had struggled for years with her addiction. Her mother began a blog as a way to cope with her loss and to share with others what she was going through. Through her writing she heard from other parents who were concerned about their children, or their children’s friends. In February of this year, Sheklow shared her story for the first time in a public forum sponsored by the Crescenta Valley Youth Town Council.
“When I spoke to the community, I realized how many [people] were looking for answers,” she said.
After her talk, the floor was open for questions. Sheklow and friend Mariam Gabra were surprised how many people asked for help and wanted guidance.
“We also had emails from [that night],” she said.
Sheklow and Gabra began working on a forum. Gabra is a mentor for the CVTYC, Sheklow is a member of CV Alliance and both are volunteers at the Fire House youth center and Prom Plus. Through these organizations they have found needed resources and thought it was important to share this information with the community.
Residents who had questions on the physical, mental and legal consequences of drug and alcohol abuse had also contacted Glendale police community officer Abe Chung. He spoke with Sheklow and Gabra and they decided to work together.
There have been several forums on important community issues; however, Sheklow, Gabra and Chung wanted a different format. They did not want a person, or people, talking about an issue at the front of a room and then open up for questions. Instead they have structured the new meetings as discussion groups. Law enforcement representatives, a Los Angeles district attorney, family counselor and a rehabilitation counselor will be able to have an open discussion with community members on drugs and alcohol in the area. The discussion is geared toward the consequences of drug and alcohol use, but the topic will really be guided by the questions from the community.
Organizations like Prom Plus, Fire House, CVTC and CV Alliance will also be represented.
“As a community, we can find the answers together,” Sheklow stated in a release.
Gabra and Sheklow plan to have these discussions the first Monday of each month. The topics will vary and be determined by community input.
Sheklow is hoping to help others before it is too late, not only through education of what to look for when a child is in trouble, but by providing the resources that are available in the community to help, to let people know there is support available.
“By the time I knew there was a problem [with my daughter], I already felt alone,” Sheklow said.
The Village Meeting will take place on Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m. at St. Luke’s of the Mountains Sadler Hall, 2563 Foothill Blvd.
For information email firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a free event and all are welcome.