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Community comes together at event for drug awareness

In the face of an opioid epidemic sweeping the country, the Bordentown Residents Against Drugs (BRAD) served as the host to an annual town hall event to bring community organizations and officials together to raise drug awareness.

The event was held on April 16 at the Carslake Community Center in Bordentown City where members of BRAD facilitated a room of vendors, advocate groups, municipal governments, schools, businesses and faith communities to address substance abuse issues in the area.

“We are trying to create a safe, healthy community,” said BRAD coordinator Kevin Moore. “Tonight’s event is the culmination of what we do for public outreach to get the word out to as many public members as we can and give a little back.”

Although the annual event incorporates elements of fun activities for youths and adults to partake in such as refreshments, games, prizes and live entertainment, the gathering is intended to tackle a serious subject matter.

Moore said that events like this can not only help spread awareness, but assist in providing more options to community members as well.

“There is a ton of information available [at this event] on prevention, recovery and treatment,” he said. “The main purpose is to keep spreading the word that there are alternatives to unsafe choices – to substance abuse. When people choose substance abuse, we are saying there is an alternative.”

As vendors, community groups and local officials packed the Carslake Community Center gymnasium, BRAD member Nell Geiger said that she has witnessed the annual occasion grow to encompass more space within the facility as well as to continuously help to provide opportunities for community members.

“We have an epidemic on our hands, and [the event] gives the community a place to come and pick up resources – not only to gather educational materials, but also to talk to people that are in recovery or counselors,” Geiger said. “It’s about meeting new people and gathering more resources for each other. We have never had this many vendors come together. In the past, we had a small committee, and we would only fit in one room, but now we have spread out the gym area and it has grown.”

Alongside the multiple groups on hand at the event to advocate awareness, officers from the Bordentown Township and City Police Departments set up informational tables as well in their stance against substance abuse.

Given the nature of their duties as law enforcement, Township Police Chief Brian Pesce noted that substance abuse may lead to charges and/or arrests, but the department makes an effort to help users as well.

“We want people to know of the different resources we offer. They may not know that we offer recovery coaches to the people that we arrest,” Pesce said. “At the same time, we are doing our hardest to target drug distributors that try to come to our town and peddle them to our youth […] we are going to go after those that try to prey on the vulnerable.

“Unfortunately, we are in the throes of an opioid epidemic throughout this state and country, so we want to break down the stigma and let people know that the police are here for them. [Drug addiction] is a disease and we are ready to help and offer different resources,” he added.

Representing the Bordentown City Police Department at the event was officer Samantha Yerdon, who revealed that while there may be widespread occurrences of substance abuse, events like BRAD’s town hall gathering aid in bringing the public together on all levels.

“There’s such a big epidemic going on right now that we just like to help in any way possible,” Yerdon said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to take a community to hopefully help spread the awareness to how serious it can be and how serious it is.

“It helps people realize that there are other sources out there – that they are not alone and if they want help, all they have to do is ask. The help is there and we can provide it,” she added.

For people looking to get involved or learn more about BRAD, contact coordinator Kevin Moore at 609-254-4267 or visit www.brad.solutions.

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