Christina Beesley, Director of Recovery Services at Harrington Hospital, presented the huge problem of Opioid Abuse in the Southbridge / Sturbridge area. She started by noting that Opiate overdose is the # 1 cause of accidental death in Massachusetts and Harrington Recovery Services is battling this through education, treatment and therapy. This past year over 1,000 patients utilized these Recovery Services at Harrington. Christina also discussed the use of NARCAN in an opioid overdose.
Ms. Beesley reviewed Spectrum Health Systems in Westborough and how Harrington Recovery Services utilizes those services. Christina closed her presentation by reviewing couples and family services for families whose family member has an Opioid Abuse situation. This resulted in lots of questions.
The Sturbridge Rotary Club has partnered with the Southbridge Rotary Club to create a local community garden. Both Clubs subsequently formed the Rotary Community Corps of Sturbridge & Southbridge (RCC). The RCC is an organization that encourages all volunteers, whether or not they are Rotarians, to work on projects in their local communities. The RCC’s first project is the creation of the “Community Food Collaborative” (CFC) located in Sturbridge.
The Mission Statement of the Community Food Collaborative is to help foster a greater sense of community by involving neighbors, volunteer organizations, as well as mentoring local youth. Throughout each growing season, nutritious organic vegetables will be grown and donated to the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry, which serves families in need in both Southbridge and Sturbridge.
One objective of Sturbridge Rotary has been to help feed the less fortunate and have been doing so for a number of years with an annual dedicated fundraiser for the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry. Southbridge Rotary has held similar fundraisers. Therefore, it was a logical transition for both Clubs to add another level of support for the Food Pantry.
After researching and visiting four available sites for the garden, the site chosen is on Maple Street behind the Sturbridge Town Hall. The garden plot is owned by the Sturbridge Federated Church, that gave permission for the RCC to use it for this purpose. Several years ago, it had been a garden for the members of the Church. The garden already as a fence, raised beds, and a tool shed. Rotarians cleared the weeds last fall and after further prep work, planting will begin this spring.
The RCC’s current partners for the garden project are the Rotary Clubs of Sturbridge and Southbridge, Joseph Coan Landscape Architecture, Sturbridge Federated Church Men’s Group and the St. John Paul II Food Pantry. We’d love to have more partners help us with this project as well as many volunteers. The RCC is a volunteer driven organization and needs your help. We encourage local companies, organizations, schools, seniors, social groups and community volunteers to join in this effort.
Visit the Community Food Collaborative Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cfcgardens/ to learn more about the project, see photos as the project continues, and sign up to volunteer. If you are not physically able to help in the garden, you can still help by donating funds and/or new or used garden tools. With lots of volunteers, we’ll need lots of tools. There’s also a form on the Facebook page for donations of funds or tools.
Let’s make the Community Food Collaborative a great community project focused on local hunger relief by growing fresh, organic vegetables. Volunteers of all ages working together, getting to know each other, having fun and feeling good about what we’re doing to help, is what this project is all about.
If you would like to volunteer at the Community Food Collaborative garden, please join us for a kick-off celebration for volunteers followed by a tour of the garden site on Wednesday, April 11 from 4-6 pm at the Sturbridge Federated Church fellowship hall.
Sturbridge Rotary Club recently donated $5,000 to The Friends of the Joshua Hyde Public Library in Sturbridge. These funds will be used to support children’s and youth programs at the library. The library was thrilled with our donation because in this era of fiscal belt tightening, many of the programs the library offers would not exist without outside funding provided by the Friends.
Some of the many children and youth programs offered include story times, ELF (Early Literacy & Fun), crafts and supplies, school vacation week programs and the Summer Reading Program. The Friends also recently started a Summer Young Adult program that includes reading, technology programs and other fun activities.
The donation is a logical fit for Sturbridge Rotary because we fund other educational programs for local youth. We award scholarships each year to local senior students pursuing a college degree, as well as leadership training for several high school sophomores. We’re looking forward to hearing about the success of the children’s and youth programs at the library.
Board member, Robert White, presented the check to Children’s Librarian, Pat Lalli (center) and to Donna Englander, Friends president (right).
Rotary had the pleasure of hosting Sturbridge Fire Chief John Grasso. John has been Chief in Sturbridge just over a year. John’s presentation mentioned that the number of fires in Sturbridge is down which is mainly attributed to fire safety education. However, the number of EMS services is growing. Club members were then given an overview of the Opioid Crisis which is a hot topic everywhere and the crisis continues to escalate. Firemen as well as policemen are equipped with Narcan kits, which is an intranasal spray used to reverse the effect of an opioid overdose. The Narcan works in 2-3 minutes but the cost of the kits is skyrocketing. While it’s wonderful to have the Narcan, it doesn’t necessarily prevent the individual from overdosing again. The crisis needs to be addressed with prevention through education and stopping the sale of the drug distribution. It may sound easy when it’s said, but both aspects of prevention are very lengthy and costly. Sturbridge is fortunate at this time to have had very few episodes of an opioid overdose and those we have had were not residents of our community.
On the lighter side, members heard stories about the antics of Halligan, the department’s new 11-month old Dalmatian puppy. Our thanks to Chief Grasso and all the firefighters in the department who work hard to keep us safe.
We had a very enlightening meeting thanks to a visit from Steve Jones D’Agostino of the Nashoba Rotary Club. Steve is one of the Rotary representatives from District 7910 to visit Moca, Puerto Rico to view the devastation after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20. Steve is helping the District seek donations for the Hurricane Relief Drive. He spoke about the depressing living conditions, especially without having power or water, and for many, loss of their housing, furnishings and supplies. While FEMA and the military are helping, it will be many, many years before Moca and four other areas that were severely damaged, return to normal. And normal for these people wasn’t much even before the hurricane. Rotary is doing what it can to help the people of Moca and donations of any amount will certainly help.
Each year around President’s Day, we honor the past-president of our Club by engraving his name and year of service on the President’s Plaque. The plaque hangs in the room where we meet each week. Congratulations to Past-President Otto Prohaska for all his hard work during his presidency of 2016-2017. We are proud to add your name with all the previous past-presidents who have contributed so much to the Sturbridge Club. Being president isn’t an easy task, as many will attest, but Otto kept us focused and moving forward. And don’t forget all his emails!!! Happy President’s Day, Otto.