RCASA Newsletter 


January - July 2014

In This Issue
Adults Assist to Deter Substance Abuse
Faith Leadership
The Anonymous People Screening
Save the date: Annual Meeting & Film Screening
Website Update
Reading Public Schools
Chemical Health Education Program
Understanding Recovery
Board Update
Youth Awards
Grant Development
Professional Development
Reading Police

Adults Assist to Deter Substance Abuse

by Tom Zaya, Assistant Principal of RMHS and Athletics & Extracurricular Activities


In May, Sarah Lennon (Reading Memorial High School, Health Educator) and Erica McNamara (RCASA) presented "Adults Assist" to ten Reading Memorial High School coaches. The training was held on May 14th from 6-8 PM. Sarah and Erica adapted "Adults Assist" from the University of Virginia's program called "Coaches Assist". 


The goal of our program is to educate coaches on the influence they have on their players. Topics included preventing substance use, recognizing substance issues, the MIAA and the Reading Public Schools Chemical Health Policy. 


Sarah and Erica also presented scenarios and had a discussion on them. We look forward to scheduling additional training to include the rest of the coaching staff as well as advisors. Special thanks to our coaches and trainer for their participation in our pilot workshop-Nancy Madden, David Williams, Sue Hunter, Ken Holbrook, Erica Sanchez, Mim Jarema, Dan McGrath, Michel O'Leary, Heather Fabiano, and Michelle Hopkinson.


Adults Assist at RMHS

ADULTS ASSIST is a program based on the NCAA resource "Coaches Assist" that was started by the University of Virginia. With permission granted by the University of Virginia to adapt their college program for the high school level, we will be offering this workshop for all coaches and adults that work with students in extracurricular activities. As a community, we have made great strides in reducing substance abuse and improving access to supportive services. However, we still contend with a significant percentage of youth that are abusing substances. The program is co-sponsored by Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse and the Reading Public Schools.


The workshop focuses on the following steps for helping a student

  • Notice problems
  • Take problems seriously
  • Feel responsibility for acting
  • Check on protocol for your department/ school
  • Initiate a conversation
  • Make an appropriate referral
  • Follow up as needed

If you would like to learn more about the UVA program, visit http://apple.studenthealth.virginia.edu/coaches-assist




Faith Leadership on Substance Abuse Issues by Rev. Van Buskirk


Rev. Carol Van Buskirk at Old South UMC hosted a special church service on May 4, 2014.  The "Resurrection from Addiction" event featured two guest speakers who shared their stories of addiction and recovery.  Both speakers highlighted the importance of their involvement in a 12-step fellowship and their spiritual development.  The service was followed by a coffee hour with Elaine Webb, RCASA Board President, Pat Shannon, Vice President and Erica McNamara, Director.   Learn more about the work of Old South and about 12 step programs at RCASA Resources: List of Self-Help Groups


"The Anonymous People" by Meghan Whelan, Youth Crew 

On May 21, 2014, RCASA showed the film, "The Anonymous People" at the Woburn Cinemas. The theater was completely filled! This film documents over 32 million Americans whom are living in long term recovery from alcohol and other drugs. The film provided an honest look at the reality of recovery through the lives of of actual people that are currently in recovery. The stories told in the film were highly inspirational, and truly celebrated the wonders of recovery.











The film showed that people that are in recovery do act as contributing members of society, and it showed the audience that people in recovery deserve to be treated with the same respect as anyone else with any other disease. "The Anonymous People" is a wonderful, uplifting film and anyone who is in recovery, or knows someone in recovery would benefit from watching. Following the film, there was a short period of time set aside for discussions and many thoughtful comments were shared.  Special thank you to: 

  • Jack Lynch from Comics For Recovery, Comedian and Founder of Comics For Recovery
  • Tom Delaney, MOAR Board of Directors, Former National EAPA - Employee Assistance Professionals Association Ex Director; Currently Executive Director of Boston ASAP, a driving under the influence clinic
  • Nydia Rosario and Shawn Judge, Managers at Showcase Cinemas in Woburn 
  • Alanna Romano, Master's level intern from Salem State  

Special thanks to our partners that made this event possible. 

12 Step Education of New England

Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition

Comics for Recovery

North Reading Community Impact Team

Hallmark Health System

Stoneham Substance Abuse Coalition

Malden Health Department

WAKE UP-Wakefield Unified Prevention Coalition

Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR)

Wilmington Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition

Medford Health Matters

Winchester Coalition For A Safer Community

Melrose Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition



Wednesday October 1, 2014 
Reading Memorial High School 
Performing Arts Center

Our next sponsored film screening will be on 10/1/14 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 pm, at the Reading Memorial High School Performing Arts Center.  This event will be free.  There will be a short welcome and coalition progress update followed by the film screening.


 "The Hungry Heart provides an intimate look at the often hidden world of prescription drug addiction through the world of a Vermont Pediatrician who works with patients struggling with this disease.  Dr. Holmes prescribes suboxone to his patients struggling with prescription drug addiction.  For some taking suboxone is a crucial stepping stone to long-term recovery, for others it is a crutch, for others suboxone is abused and diverted onto the street. The film shines a light on the healing power of conversation and the need for connection that many of these young addicts yearn for but do not have in their lives."


Visit http://thehungryheartmovie.org/

The coalition website was recently updated with lots of new information, check out our updated section with Resources Lists and Support Groups, our section on Police Initiatives and a new section for Healthcare Providers.

Check out  a few articles that were in the news...

Today's Heroin Abusers Often Middle-Class Suburbanites: Study 


"Who Cares About Kelsey?" Review of Community Film Screening 
by Sophia Kalogeris, Youth Crew Leader 
This past February, RCASA had a showing of the documentary "Who Cares About Kelsey?" at Jordan's IMAX theater in Reading, where the subject herself, Kelsey Carroll was even in attendance. This thought provoking and powerful film reeled in audience members of all ages. 

The film followed the day to day life of Kelsey Carroll with her struggle in school and with her future. Throughout the film, we get to see the help and support that Kelsey is given at her high school, and how she persevered through her tough times at
school and even at home. 

Her downfalls and hardships made her relate-able, and her guidance and hope for the future made her quite inspiring as well. Nothing came easy for Kelsey, but it was her journey that made her into the woman she is today.

After viewing the film, the audience had a chance to think and reflect, having time to ask Kelsey herself any remaining questions they had on their minds after. The discussion with Kelsey was definitely a highlight of the night, and made the film come into perspective with the actual girl standing in front of you answering your questions. 

The night finished off leaving people with a sense of understanding around the topics of family substance abuse and behavioral health challenges, and was a great event for the community to see that these problems are happening here and everywhere, and we need to get the discussion going. 

School Involvement: Prior to the community film screening, the high school faculty, principals and administrators in the district viewed the film in January.  Next, they met with Kelsey during her daylong visit to the high school.  Kelsey taught the adults about the RENEW Process that she was part of her at her former school.  The film was also shown to 75 students enrolled in the field seminar and Student Support Programs at Reading Memorial High School.  Kelsey answered questions from these students about her life and provided insight about accessing help in the school during her visit to the Reading Public Schools.

RCASA's Role: Staff coordinated all of the film screenings involving Kelsey and her visit to Reading with the support of our school and business partners.  Kelsey's visit was sponsored through donations.    
RCASA Partners with Reading Public Schools
Info Sharing
RCASA shared a range of resources with staff and faculty at the middle and high schools. A new information display was set up in the Nurse's office at RMHS for students to access prevention information and ways to get help. Staff participated in a variety of school events including Real World Problem Solving, Adults Assist, Future Freshman Night, and much more. 

Behavioral Health

The RCASA Director participated in regional events sponsored by the Reading Public Schools to exchange and share information about the Behavioral Health Task Force  and substance abuse prevention efforts in the past few months.  These events included:  

  • June 3, 2014: The Reading Public Schools, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, and the Center for Special Education at Lesley University co-sponsored a special event for the grantees of "Safe and Supportive Schools: Fostering the Growing Learning Community".  Erica McNamara, RCASA Director was asked to sit on the event panel along with John Doherty, Superintendent of Schools, Joanne King, Principal of Wood End, and Sara Burd, Behavioral Health Coordinator. The panelists shared their experiences working to develop the Behavioral Health Task Force and the implementation of task force recommendations.  John Bynoe, the Associate Commissioner of DESE, was in attendance as well as Susan Cole from Mass Advocates for Children, Mary Curtis from Lesely University and 13 school district superintendents, directors, and grant managers. The districts included Agawam, Beverly, Boston, Brockton, Lowell, Mashpee, Newburyport, Newton, North Central Charter Essential School, Orange Regional Quaboag, Reading, Seven Hills Charter, Shrewsbury, Tantasqua, Wareham and Winchendon.
  • May 20, 2014: A team from Newburyport Public Schools visited Reading to learn more about the Reading Public Schools and RCASA.  A team from Newbuyrport met with local staff and observed classes including a Student Support Team meeting at Birch Meadow Elementary School with Anna Krystis, School Psychologist; a Health Issues class at RMHS with Sarah Lennon, Health teacher and CADC; and experienced "Job alike meetings" (one-on-one with a Reading counterpart) at RMHS including Lynna Williams, Director of Guidance and Steve Kennedy, Lynn Dunn, Director of  School Nurses and Mary Ellen Kirwan, R.N., Rich Staples,  School Psychologist, Paula Graham, Wellness Department Chair. Sarah Lennon, Health Teacher, Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor for RMHS/RCASA Chemical Health Education Program, Erica McNamara, Director of RCASA and Sara Burd, Behavioral Health Coordinator.  


Chemical Health Education Program (CHEP) Update 


Reading Memorial High School, Reading Police and RCASA continued the CHEP program that was launched in 2012.  
Referrals to the class are made by the RMHS administrators for Chemical Health Violations and/or by the Police Prosecutor for the Reading Police Department in cooperation with court diversion.  Referrals are for 1st Chemical Health violations only.  
CHEP provides opportunities for young adults to reflect on their own behavior, to consider what influences contributed to their violation and ways to move forward. 
The RCASA Director presented an update on the program at the May 6, 2014 Reading School Committee meeting...Chemical Health Update- 2014  


Speakers Share Their Recovery Experiences with RCASA Board


At the January 30th board meeting, two members of the Number 16 program shared their personal stories of addiction and recovery with board members.  The group is a 12-Step community in Wakefield dedicated to helping alcoholics and addicts recover.  


Their stories highlighted the challenges faced in "finding the right fit" to get sober. They talked about the challenges faced by their families in their efforts to help them get them sober. They described how they found the right program and people that helped them become more secure in their recovery.   They emphasized the spiritual component of their recovery process and their 12-Step community.  


For more information on the Number 16 program and their new Cross-Keys retreat center, please visit http://www.number16.org/



RCASA Board of Directors Update
The Board met in January, February, March, May, and June to develop the coalition and discuss board business.  Click here foboard packets.
Member news: 
  • Leanne Blais, Educator at Austin Prep joined the board in the fall of 2014.   
  • Thank you to the following Board Members that served the board and are moving on due to promotion or new job opportunities...
    • Congratulations to SRO Corey Santasky who was recently promoted to Sergeant. Thank you for your service to the RCASA Board and for your support in educating students on substance abuse. We appreciate your leadership on behalf of RCASA and the police department. We look forward to working with you in your new role. 
    • Staff presented an "Outstanding Service Award" to James Bonazoli at the June Board meeting.  James was involved in the early development of RCASA, displayed strong leadership in changing local alcohol compliance policies, and has been a huge prevention advocate. 
    • Thank you to Kevin Higginbottom for his service to RCASA on behalf of RMHS.  Adam Bakr will be replacing Kevin as the new Principal of RMHS (starting in August).
  • Congrats to Rich Abate on his promotion to Lt. Criminal Division Commander of the Detectives Division!  
  • Welcome to new members including Officer Michael Muolo (School Resource Officer), John Halsey (Selectman Liaison to the RCASA Board), and Sherri VandenAkker (Board Associate Member).

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Zoning Update: Bob LeLacheur (Town Manager), James Cormier (Chief of Police), Mark Segalla (Deputy Chief of Police), Elaine Webb, (Board President), Pat Shannon (Vice President) and RCASA staff met with members of the Zoning Advisory Committee to review the options presented by Jean Delios, Assistant Town Manager for potential zoning of medical marijuana dispensaries in June. The options presented included placement in the industrial zone near Walkers Brook Drive with either a 500 or 1000 sq. foot buffer/exclusion zone from schools or where children gather. 
RCASA will review additional information on this issue at their August board meeting.  A final plan will be compiled by the Zoning Advisory Committee and will be processed through the appropriate boards and commissions before coming to Town Meeting in the fall of 2014. The medical marijuana zoning is just one topic of a larger project that the Zoning Advisory Committee is working on.  For more info on the project, visit Comprehensive Revision of the Zoning By-law or share you input by taking their survey at Rezoning Project Questionnaire
Visit RCASA Board for more info or email emcnamara@ci.reading.ma.us


RCASA Outstanding Youth Leadership Awards
May 7, 2014 at the Reading Memorial High School Senior Awards Ceremony
Dear 16 Year Old Me by RCASA Youth Crew Reading, MA
Dear 16 Year Old Me by RCASA Youth Crew Reading, MA

Jacob Camenker was honored for his service to the RCASA Youth Crew from his freshman through junior years of high school. Jacob

distinguished himself through his work on the "Dear 16 year old me project" as an actor and as a prevention advocate on a variety of activities.  


Jack Shannon was honored for his service to the RCASA Youth Crew for all 4 years of his high school career.  Jack joined the summer before his freshman year of high school. Jack contributed to a number of important projects including prevention PSAs, research and tobacco prevention activities.  


Alex Webb was honored for his service to the RCASA Youth Crew for all 4 years of his high school career. Alex also joined the summer before his freshman year of high school.  Alex grew into a
polished presenter for RCASA and shared critical info at school committee, community, and annual meetings. Alex also helped craft a special exhibit on underage drinking prevention 
with his peers.



Grant Development, Fundraising & Donations:
RCASA would like to thank the Young Women's League of Reading for their generous donation of $750.00.  We are honored to have their support.  The funds will be used to support prevention programs.  

Grant Applications developed by RCASA with the town, police or school departments:
  • 2014 grant for police to procure $5,000 for alcohol compliance (funded), and 2015 GRANT pending.
  • 3-year grant for police to procure $73,941 from the MA Dept. of Mental Health to expand police training and diversion programming (not funded).
  • 2-year grant for police to procure $150,000 from the Attorney General's Office to train police and school staff in Mental Health First Aid (not funded).
  • 5-year grant for RCASA/Town of Reading to procure $625,000 from SAMHSA/White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy office for substance abuse prevention (pending)
  • 2-year grant for School Department to procure $100,000 from SAMHSA Project Aware (President's Projects of Significance) for Mental Health First Aid training for school staff, police and community (pending).
  • The Director also assisted with the 5-year grant for the Reading School Department to procure $1.1 million to implement a School Climate project (pending)   




  • Reading was chosen to participate in a regional cluster for MA Opioid Abuse Prevention Grant Project funded by the state of Massachusetts in 2013. The staff of RCASA worked closely with coordinators from Melrose, Malden, Medford, Wakefield, and Stoneham as the "Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition" for the past nine months to craft a detailed needs assessment of regional opioid abuse. This included key informant interviews, focus groups and reviewing data. Penny Funiole, MOAPC Regional Coordinator presented the assessment results at a special luncheon in the spring for partners from each town including first responders, town officials, and healthcare professionals. Learn more through the Stakeholder Report-MOAPC

  • Julianne DeAngelis, RCASA Outreach Coordinator participated as a judge for the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth PSA contest.  "For the sixth year, the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc., invited middle and high school students to submit PSA videos for the annual PSA Project on the topic "CommUnity Involves You".  Students were asked to create 30 to 60 second original videos highlighting the positive impacts students can have on their school and community."   The judges reviewed the finalists and narrowed down the selections and then youth voted on the final winner.  See the link below for the winning PSA.  


  • Julianne was also asked to participate as a panelist at a special community forum to address opioid abuse hosted by WAKE-UP in April.  Learn more at http://wakefield.wickedlocal.com/article/20140411/News/140418807



Professional Development 

RCASA staff had the opportunity to participate in a number of educational opportunities. Here are a few of the experts we encountered...



Police Training:
  • The Director presented to the Reading Police Supervisors including newly promoted Sergeants on the text a tip program, opioid trends, RCASA resources and the juvenile diversion program in June.  
  • RCASA staff conducted field training for new officers and the new School Resource Officer in July.
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