We requested Tony to be a key part of the program to share his story with our students. His ability to communicate and connect in a way that is the same language high schoolers speak was essential. Students were able to hear directly from a real individual the consequences of making choices and finding your path.
— Katy Delgado -Senior Advisor, Westchester County Executive Office

The opioid epidemic the United States is facing is likely going to get worse before it actually gets better. I know when I was in Ohio just last month the numbers I heard being reported for 2017 were already worse than a jaw dropping number from 2016. Eleven people a day die in the state of Ohio, alone. That's a staggering number to digest from the state who is currently being hit the worst by this epidemic. They aren't the only state though, most are seeing numbers sky rocket and New York is definitely one of those locations. Substance abuse issues seem to be focalizing with heroin or prescription pain killer abuse across the board. The answer to the problem itself is so complex I think our entire country is learning on the fly how to actually deal with this issue. My biggest calling for substance abuse awareness has been with the youth as a preventative measure. 

I was contacted by the government of Westchester County New York several months ago about a youth summit they would be holding in the fall called Project Worthy. I gotta say this.. The average person, organization or just anybody but government, will have a hell of a time organizing events with schools, especially when the topic is substance abuse related. However, if the government wants to do it, mountains get moved. Well, Westchester County moved mountains for Project Worthy and I have to say, "BRAVO", because what I witnessed was amazing. 

37 schools, nearly 400 students from I believe 27 different school districts across the county. Yes, you read those numbers right, that's how many schools the Westchester was able to bring in to participate. Each school hand selected 10 students who would be ambassadors for their campus and take back what they learned to start discussions on their campus what they would do to help spread the awareness of this opioid epidemic the county was currently facing. If you have ever been apart of a government event, it's something special, too. Every time I work for the governments, it's a first class operation and Project Worthy was no different! 

I wished I had more time to speak to all the high school students that were there for longer after my speech but I had to be in Boston that evening to speak at an event for the Catholic Parishes of Stoughton. My job was to inspire the kids to begin discussion on the critical topic and open their minds to what can happen through opioid abuse. I thought all of the kids were absolutely wonderful and completely respectful to my time that I shared. I'm praying that after this event more schools in the New York area hear of my work and bring me into speak with their students at the individual sites. To everyone apart of Westerchester County's Project Worthy planning, thank you! I'm forever grateful.