The Phantom Voice
the phantom voice
On Sunday, October 15th 2017, I had the privilege of interviewing Dorothy Johnson at her home in Blue Point. Enjoying the beautiful afternoon in her breathtaking garden patio, we talked about the Great South Bay Coalition. Our discussion dug deep into the issues and struggles that our community is going through. Her passion for bettering the lives of Suffolk county residents was extremely touching and real. The following is my interview with Mrs.Johnson.
Q: How did the Great South Bay Coalition get its start?
Dorothy: “ As a Registered nurse, I always felt the shame and stigma placed on this epidemic. But in 2011 I lost my only child, Maxwell, to a heroin overdose. It was devastating. But I had to do something to make a change. Due to the lack of education, I created an organization by the name of “Maxed Out Drug Prevention.” My voice was heard throughout Long Island and most importantly in our community of Bayport Blue-Point. My organization gave me inspiration to take a positive out of an absolutely terrible situation, and open a door to communication by hosting a yearly event “On the Wings of Hope”. On the grounds of St Ursula's center, I planted a tree as a symbol of growth and awareness and serves as a constant reminder of increasing education to the disease of addiction. Every year at the event, we would go back to the tree and see its growth. We could relate it back to our growth as an organization, but more importantly, as a community battling drug addiction. “On the wings of hope” increased community awareness and opened doors for many who have struggled behind closed doors. From this event the Great South Bay Coalition(GSB Coalition), was formed.Through the assistance of MaryEllen Adams, Suffolk County Department of Health, Prevention Resource Center, Gail Feldman, Melanie Holz, Susan Kubelle, Kimberly Hession, Betty Brown, the Youth Enrichment Services and many others, we assembled a team for the coalition. We worked diligently to empower the community to promote health and wellness in an effort to decrease the impact of substance abuse. We all want to make our community a safer place to live and strive to provide education and support to our community. Community members came forward to further raise awareness, give support and promote wellness in the community.”
Q:How has your involvement in the coalition impacted you?
Dorothy: “I have made a conscious effort to shed the shame and stigma, to educate that addiction is a disease. It has personally impacted me to be able to speak about my son in a positive way by educating the community on a very negative subject matter that no one wants to talk about. Most importantly the GSB Coalition has been welcomed into our schools and local organizations. But most importantly, resources for those in need of support. The GSB Coalition meets monthly which empowers me to be even more involved, before another senseless tragedy happens. I believe education is the best prevention.”
Q:What is the Coalition's message/drive?
Dorothy: “The coalition is a group of parents, neighbors, educators, professionals, and students who want to make our community a safer place to live. We strive to work together to provide education and support to our families, schools, and community.”
Q: Why should people be interested in the Great South Bay Coalition?
Dorothy: “Of the 63 counties in New York state, Suffolk county is #1 in opioid/heroin overdoses. Underage drinking and the use of marijuana can lead our youth into further destructive behavior. With the overwhelming statistics in Suffolk County, no neighborhood is immune. We cannot let our neighborhood go down hill. No involvement is too small, everyone can make a difference to raise awareness and give support to promote wellness within the community.”
Q:How can others get involved?
Dorothy: “The Great South Bay Coalition can easily be reached at these following links.”
PO Box: Box 811, Sayville, Ny 11782
“All calls are confidential. The GSB Coalition has many excellent resources on the website. As one of the directors, I knows first hand what it is like to have experienced the hardships of reaching out for help. Please do not hesitate to call to ask any type of question, no matter what it may be. Just speaking to someone who had this unfortunate loss may be helpful.”
Q: Do you have any upcoming events we should all know about?
Dorothy: “Yes! Our next event is on thursday October 26th, 7pm at the Community Ambulance Company in Sayville “The Great South Bay Coalition, SCPD and Community Ambulance Company presents The Ugly Truth”. Presentations will be given by the SCPD, Community Relations Bureau, Suffolk County Medical Examiner's office, Suffolk County Department of Health and mental hygiene. NARCAN/NALOXONE training with be offered along with free take home kit with a certificate that allows to legally administer NALOXONE. Bring your expired or unwanted prescription medications for a safe disposal by SCPD. All are welcome. Appropriate for ages 15 and older.”