Preven­tion ef­forts hon­ored

Anti-drug al­liance CAASA awards lo­cal com­mu­nity mem­bers

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By DANDAN ZOU dzou@somd­news.com

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY DANDAN ZOU

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.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY DANDAN ZOU

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.

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