The UJA-Federation of New York hosted the Long Island Legislative Reception at the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in East Hills to recognize local officials who have been combating the opioid crisis.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, the reception’s keynote speaker, said key to his mission is working along with Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Executive Director Steve Chassman and Family and Children’s Association President and CEO Jeffrey Reynolds in programs focused on approach, education, awareness, enforcement, and treatment.
“I don’t need to speak up here, I need to speak to those young kids and get the message to them and understand what they’re doing when they go down that path,” Ryder said programs such as Wrestling Takes Down Drugs and Basketball Slam Dunks Drugs, to name a few.
Approximately 130 Americans lose their lives to an opioid overdose daily, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
While detailing his struggle of nearly a decade in dealing with a heroin addiction, Benjamin Litchman, the chief creative officer of The T’shuvah Center, a Brooklyn-based residential Jewish recovery home and community for addicts, noted the epidemic affects Americans of all ages and backgrounds.
“We want the people who are forgotten about that are suffering on the street,” said Litchman, “because I am your son, I am your daughter, I’m the lawyer, I’m the legislator, I’m on Park Avenue, I’m on the park bench. This does not discriminate and it’s taking lives. At the end of the day, when everything clears, this is about saving lives and that’s what we’re doing.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone praised the efforts of all of the individuals in the room in working together to combat addiction.
“It’s all about partnership,” said Bellone. “The opioid crisis has been a focus here and we’ve made tremendous progress on what has been a devastating issue for us not only in the region, but all across the country.”