To the Laconia Sun,
Many people in the Lakes Region are aware of the growing drug epidemic in our community and are greatly saddened by the loss of life due to this issue. In the past two weeks alone, families and friends have grieved the loss of four loved ones. It can be very easy to become overwhelmed, frustrated, angry and slip into the mode of blaming or claim "that's it ... I am moving out of this town!"
As chair of the Stand Up Laconia substance misuse prevention coalition, I have heard those comments often and, to be honest, have at times felt that same way myself. However, in my heart, I know the Lakes Region is a special place with incredibly decent and caring residents. I also know the drug epidemic is not unique to Laconia, the Lakes Region, or New Hampshire. It is an issue in all communities throughout the United States. The difference here in Laconia is that we have opted to acknowledge it and to try to turn the tide on this issue by not sweeping it under the rug. Will this be easy? No. Will it take perseverance and a vast majority of our community coming together to tackle this issue? Yes!
Having resided here and been involved in this community for 17-plus years, I know it is an incredibly caring and connected community. This has become all the more evident in the past few months as an increased number of individuals are reaching out to the Stand Up Laconia coalition and saying what can we do? How can we help? Community members are already beginning some amazing initiatives. The interest and passion is real and everyday citizens like you and I can, have and will make a difference ... but only if we get involved.
Our community and Stand Up Laconia coalition is incredibly fortunate to have the involvement and support of the Laconia Police Department, the Laconia School District and organizations such as Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health and The Greater Laconia Ministerial Association. This collaboration of many is to be applauded and one of the reasons I am proud to say I live in Laconia.
However, this is a pervasive issue and will not be easily or quickly solved by any one person or group in isolation. We will need many involved and will need patience and stamina. In my humble estimation, the only thing that will hinder us in being successful in decreasing substance abuse issues in our neighborhoods is feeling un-empowered and taking the attitude of "What can one person do"? One person or organization cannot make a significant difference. However, together we can and will succeed in decreasing the drug issue, and most importantly saving lives and the fabric of our community!
Please join us this Thursday evening, Nov. 13, at Laconia Middle School and become part of the solution! From 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. the Laconia Middle school JAG (Jobs for American Graduates) students and Stand Up Laconia members will be serving soup to benefit the Empty Bowls program, and directly following at 6:15 p.m. we will begin our forum on substance misuse. Stand Up Laconia will be partnering with The Greater Laconia Ministerial Association and the Laconia Middle School JAG (Jobs for American Graduates) to host this forum and the Laconia Police Department, the Laconia school system and Stand Up Laconia will be presenting. There will be opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and get involved in upcoming initiatives. Laconia and the greater Lakes Region it is time. Let's Stand Up together, work together, support each other and decrease substance abuse and the havoc and destruction it causes in the lives of those we love and the very fiber of our community.
Chair – Stand Up Laconia.