PREVENTING ANOTHER TRAGEDY
Organizers set up meeting to talk about drug overdoses.
The recent death of a 29-yearold New Waterford man has prompted the organization of A Town That Cares — a group that is stepping up to battle drug addiction.
Evan Webber, 29, of New Waterford died May 6 of a drug overdose.
“It was a heartbreaking funeral,” said Buddy Penney, one of the founders of the A Town That Cares group.
The group has organized a town hall meeting on Tuesday, May 23 at the New Waterford fire hall at 6:30 p.m.
“Our main goal is to see a mental health/drug addiction centre in industrial Cape Breton and we want to see what the three levels of government can do to help us out.”
Penney and John Bisson formed the group after Webber’s death.
According to the organizers, Webber had been seeking help for a drug addiction for the last year, but kept running into delays and a lack of resources.
Penney said he knows 15 young people who died of drug overdoses and/or mental health issues in the past two years.
He and Bisson set up a Facebook page thinking they might get followers in New Waterford.
“We never expected things to explode the way they did.”
He said the drug problem isn’t just an issue in New Waterford but rather in is in what he terms, industrial Cape Breton.
“The problem is in all communities.”
Penney said the meeting will identify the death of Cape Bretoners due to mental health and drug addictions which are often related.
Penney said all three candidates on the Cape Breton Centre ballot in the upcoming May 30 election have indicated they will attend the town hall including Liberal MLA David Wilton, Louie Piovesan of the Tories and Tammy Martin of the NDP.
He is also expecting Chief Peter McIsaac of the Cape Breton Regional Police and Tom Blanchard of Talbot House.
Penney said he has also been in contact with Senator Vernon White, formerly of New Waterford, who is an advocate for mental health.
Penney said they are currently setting up a board of directors that so far includes Dr. Venkata Puppala, Dist. 11 Coun. Kendra Coombes, retired nurse Debbie Cox-Reid, Tony Nemis of Seaview Manor, Shawn Murray of the Ally Centre of Cape Breton, as well as Jason Campbell, Shirley Leadbeater, Andrea Hawley and Lynn Webb Penney.
Buddy Penney said Evan Webber’s father Michael will also be involved in the group.
“He will be a big part of this as soon as he is ready. He has already been promoting this group and meeting.”
Penney said the speakers will include people battling drug addictions and family who lost loved ones to drugs.
“A musician from South Bar will be opening up the evening with a song he wrote for his late girlfriend who he lost to mental health issues,” he said.