COVENTRY TWP. No community can escape the heron epidemic, which knows no boundaries or demographic limitations.
The problems stemming from the drug’s myriad effects are being felt throughout the country and Summit County has been no exception. Coventry Township is the most recent community to launch a quick response team to help those in need and overall, the county currently has 10 communities with quick response teams.
Coventry trustee Edward Diebold said during a community informational meeting at Coventry High School that the epidemic can touch everyone and it could be someone in your family or someone who gets behind the wheel while under the drug’s influence and runs into you on the road.
"We are going to start doing some outreach," Diebold said. "We have to get this tackled before it gets even more out of hand."
Mike Walsh, from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, along with Adam Rockich and John Dolensky of the Coventry Fire Department, discussed the details of the Coventry quick response team.
Walsh said he is on the Green task force and wants to get people help before they reach the point of needing an ambulance. The quick response teams go out in an unmarked car to assist people in need. The three-person teams consist of a counselor, sheriff’s deputy and a fireman.
"We are here to try and help," Rockich said.
Walsh encouraged people to clean out their houses and get rid of unneeded medication at a safe drop off as part of the effort to prevent drug-related issues before they take root.
The Coventry team plans to go into the community on Thursdays and a number is expected to be set up for those in need to call and schedule a visit to their home from the team.
Education is essential
Coventry Schools superintendent Russell Chaboudy said there is help out there for individuals struggling with drug-related issues.
"Even if we just reach one person, we have done our job," Chaboudy said.
Greg McNeil lost his son Sam to an overdose in 2015. He introduced the speakers and talked about Cover 2 Resources, which is helping to educate people. on the subject. McNeil said while the outcome for his son cannot change, he wants to change the result for others.
Summit County Judge Thomas Teodosio, who leads the Turning Point Program, said Summit County is blessed with great collaboration.
"I think we can beat this as a community," Teodosio said.
Teodosio said the attitude in the drug court has changed as it used to be judges were tough on drug crimes, but that only resulted in many getting out and doing the same thing over again. He said now the focus is on getting people help so they will not get out and relapse.
"Take something you learn today and spread it. That is how we are going to beat this crisis," Teodosio said.
Travis Bornstein, the founder of Breaking Barriers Hope is Alive, told the story of losing his son Tyler. His son, a 2009 Lake High School graduate, overdosed with a friend and his friend didn’t know what to do with him, so Tyler’s body was dumped in a field in Coventry Township.
"We don’t want this to happen to one more family," Bornstein said.
Bornstein stressed this epidemic is in every community and every school district. He wants to see love and compassion develop in the community to help fight the epidemic moving forward.