Prevention efforts honored
Anti-drug alliance CAASA awards local community members
The fight against drug abuse has been a personal battle for Debbi Mister. On Aug. 7, 2011, she lost her only child to a prescription drug overdose.
Her 29-year-old daughter, Angela, had finished her master’s program at Towson University only weeks prior. Her graduation ceremony was schedule for that December. Mister still has her cap and gown for the ceremony that her daughter never attended.
Mister still remembers the time she spent in a childbirth class at CalvertHealth Medical Center, or what was called Calvert Memorial Hospital at the time, in Prince Frederick when she was pregnant with her daughter. There, she met Mike Evans, who was a state trooper then, and his pregnant wife.
Retelling the story at Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse’s annual meeting and awards program at Calvert Pines Senior Center on Monday night, Mister said Evans (R), who has since become the county’s
sheriff, introduced her to the organization.
“When your child dies, you don’t know what you are looking for,” she said in follow-up interview. It took her quite some time to be able to talk about her daughter’s death.
Now the president of CAASA’s board of directors, Mister describes her involvement with the organization as “bittersweet.” She said she doesn’t want another parent to feel what she feels. In her mind, it’s all about education — opening people’s minds to the fact that this can happen to anyone.
“I used to be like this, too,” she said, thinking a drug overdose would never happen to her child. She now calls it “not my child syndrome,” of which “I was guilty,” she said.
The goals of CAASA, a local nonprofit organization, are to raise funds to increase awareness and fight drug and alcohol abuse in Calvert. Mon- day’s event was a chance for the organization to honor local individuals, schools, communities and businesses for their prevention efforts and rally support for upcoming fundraising events.
“We put on a lot of events. We help educate the community,” Mister said, noting the organization needs funds to continue to do so.
A big part of the funds raised go to help pay for Project Graduation, which allows high school graduates to have fun on graduation night in a safe environment, according to Candice D’Agostino, the organization’s coordinator.
Kristen DePhillip, former president of CAASA’s board, said Monday the organization is in the process of developing a website to give visitors information on local resources.
On Monday night, several police officers, representatives from the schools, businesses and community organizations received awards from CAASA, including Anne Rickwood, Trey Sirman and Sharon Hoetzlein-Sirman, Project Graduation coordinators; Dfc. Andy Clas and Dfc. Andre Mitchell of the sheriff’s office; and representa- tives from Calvert County Public Schools as well as local communities who participated in National Night Out.
Dfc. Andy Clas, left, Sheriff Mike Evans (R) and Dfc. Andre Mitchell pose for photos for the awards the two police officers received from Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse on Monday night at Calvert Pines Senior Center.
Above left, Anne Rickwood, left, Trey Sirman and Sharon Hoetzlein-Sirman pose for photos for the awards the three Project Graduation coordinators received from Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse on Monday night at Calvert Pines Senior Center. Above right, representatives from Calvert public schools pose for photos for the awards they received from CAASA.
Representatives from local communities pose for photos for the awards they received for their involvement in this year’s National Night Out.