Seacoast community events to battle addiction crisis: Michael DeLeon to lead school, community discussions

To Dover resident and St. John’s member Larry Holman, it seems as if a day hardly goes by when there is not a news article about a death due to a drug overdose, babies of addicted mothers being born into addiction themselves, crimes committed to help fund a drug habit or neighbors in the community arrested for selling narcotics.

“Every person, every community has its breaking point when enough is enough and something has to be done,” says Holman.

That day finally came for Holman when he read the tragic story of Cody Zopf, a 22 year old Dover resident who died due to a drug overdose in January of this year.

“The thing that struck me the most was his Facebook posting that he simply wanted to be in love,” said Holman. Tragically, the love of Zopf’s life became narcotics and that search for love he so desperately wanted brought about his death.

In March, Holman attended a presentation at Somersworth High School by Michael DeLeon, a recovered heroin addict, ex-con, former drug abuse counselor and founder of the New Jersey non-profit Steered Straight.

DeLeon was discussing the horrendous issue of heroin abuse that is devastating the nation. By the time DeLeon’s presentation in Somersworth was through, Holman knew he wanted to have him come back to the Seacoast to spur on the effort to try to and save lives.

“He has travelled the county collecting statistics and stories of narcotic abuse as well as spreading his message to school children, parents and teens about the need for more awareness, avoidance, prevention and recovery programs,” says Holman. “He has also created two documentaries on the tragedy of heroin abuse – “Kids Are Dying in New Jersey” and “Kids Are Dying – An American Epidemic”.

St. John’s Methodist, working with One Voice of Strafford County, Youth To Youth, Dover Rotary and SAU 61, will bring DeLeon back to the Seacoast June 5-8 to talk to teens and adults at a number of assemblies and community events. The focus of these events is not just about the issue of addiction, but rather how the community can become more involved to help in the battle to eliminate the causes of addiction and improve recovery efforts.

On the morning of June 5, DeLeon will address Farmington and Nute students, followed by a public forum to discuss solutions to the heroin epidemic at 6:30 pm at Valley View School in Farmington. The evening event is free and open to all interested members of the community.

On Saturday June 6, St. John’s will be hosting two events. The first event is a turkey supper, from 4:30-6pm, to raise funds for both DeLeon’s organization, Steered Straight, and for local recovery organizations. The cost for the dinner is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and veterans, and $4 for kids under 12. Click here for more details.

The second event will start at 6pm. DeLeon will discuss the heroin epidemic and show excerpts from his documentary “Kids Are Dying – An American Epidemic”. There will be a time to meet DeLeon following the presentation and copies of his documentaries will be available for purchase. This event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served following the presentation. The public is invited to attend either one or both of these events.

On Sunday June 7, DeLeon will be giving his sermon “From Saul to Paul” at both the 9am and 10:30am worship services at St. John’s.

DeLeon will then meet with teens age 12-up at a special youth event at First Parish Church, at 218 Central Avenue in Dover, on Sunday afternoon from 4-7pm. This event is free, open to all area teens and youth groups and includes a light supper. For more information or to make a reservation for you or your youth group, please call the St. John’s church office at 742-3046.

On Monday, June 8, DeLeon will speak in the morning to students at the Rochester and Dover Middle Schools.

On Monday evening, from 6-8pm, a public forum will be held at St. John’s to discuss issues and solutions around heroin addiction and how the community can become more involved with supporting and assisting awareness and recovery efforts. Panel members will include DeLeon as well as representatives from Bonfire Recovery, One Voice of Strafford County, Families Hoping and Coping, The Wellness and Recovery Place and Dover Youth to Youth. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact:

Larry Holman
c/o St. John’s Methodist