By Mary O’Keefe
Last week the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Council held its first community outreach event via a drug forum. The panel included law enforcement, clinical experts and parent Aileen Bristow whose son was killed at Valley View Elementary School nine years ago in an apparent drug related deal gone bad.
In the audience were parents, school administrators and members of the Crescenta Valley Town Council. During the forum it was pointed out that drugs in Crescenta Valley is nothing new, but the potency of the drugs being used today has increased and that makes a significant difference. Drugs are a problem throughout the country and the world but the formation of this organization, I think, sets our community apart. It is important as the prevention council moves forward to remember how this movement began.
Several months ago I received a call from Glendale Officer Matt Zakarian about a group of parents that were beginning to meet to discuss the local drug issue. All of the parents in those first few meetings had been touched personally by drug use, either with friends or their own children. I was asked to join the group because of my articles on drug use in the community. I attended not as a reporter however but as a concerned mom.
The first few meetings were a little tough to get through. Parents talked about how their children went from having difficulty at school to being addicted to heroin. They talked about the best drug testing kits and the best drug rehabilitation centers. There were tears shed and a feeling of desperation at the beginning but then I saw a change begin to happen.
These parents who had felt like victims when the meetings started began talking about organizing and getting the word out to others. With Officer Zakarian’s guidance the parents went from “this is what I am going through” to “we have to do something.” They made flyers and passed them out at events like CVHS Back to School Night and National Night Out. They brought more parents to the meetings and set up goals. Kim Beattie from the YMCA was one of the first to step forward and simply asked “How can I help?’ Steve Goldsworthy from CVTC began attending as did the CV Sheriff’s Station deputies. Then Nancy Stone, who has shepherd many organizations, was brought in and the meetings became an organization. Committees were formed, speakers were brought in and then the drug forum.
This is a true grassroots organization in every sense of the word. It is a testament to what our community is all about. A cop that cares about the community he patrols, elected officials that actually show up and parents helping parents. This is what I love about our community.
Now there are some that still insists that drugs were here yesterday and they will be here tomorrow which is true. They add we cannot get rid of illegal drug use entirely– also true. But if we can make it easier for our kids to turn away from drugs, if we can save a child from addiction or death, why wouldn’t work toward those goals.
The council wants to educate parents and kids on the issue of drugs and to alternatives. The thing I hear most from kids is that there is nothing to do here. The bowling alley where Vons in La Crescenta now stands was the last place where teens could hang out after school. One of the council’s goals is to find a location for kids to go after school. Nothing fancy just a place with a pool table, video games and friends. The YMCA has offered to help man the location with councilors. So many in the community have joined in the effort to educate and the council is growing stronger.
Still at the foundation are those parents who wanted to warn others of the dangers of drugs and how easily a child could become addicted.