Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 12 March 2010 00:00
While the trial of Dr. Sanji Francis has been adjourned until April, members of Drug Free Massapequa (DFM) remain active, spreading their message and making their name known throughout all parts of Long Island.
This past November, the Nassau County legislature changed hands, with Republicans taking control of that body from the Democrats. A possible benefit for local residents is that the new presiding officer is Peter J. Schmitt. Schmitt, who served as minority leader during the past decade, has long represented the Massapequa area in the county legislature. And so, the DFM has an audience in high places.
Schmitt recently invited DFM co-founders Vicky Honohan and Janice Talento to his offices at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola. There, Ms. Honohan and Ms. Talento gave Schmitt a brief review of DFM’s already-effective history, plus a list of their accomplishments.
According to Ms. Honohan, DFM members, during their two hour meeting with Schmitt and his staff, shared the organization’s short term goals of facilitating local police, educators and counselors in raising public awareness of the growing illegal pharmaceutical and heroin crisis facing Massapequa youth. Schmitt, Ms. Honohan said, claimed to be aware of the incidents of ÏpharmÓ parties and heroin overdoses occurring in the Massapequa community. He told DFM members that parental participation is key, while cautioning unaware parents that these problems do exist, while agreeing to cooperate with local campaign efforts to increase community awareness.
Ms. Honohan and Ms. Talento also informed Schmitt about DFM’s most recent efforts, including the decision by the Massapequa School District to allow the distribution of fliers, plus school loudspeaker announcements of the DFM-sponsored Poster Contest, the Sports Spring Event at John Burns Park set for Saturday, March 20, and Parent/Student Educational Seminars, which are scheduled for dates at the end of April.
Schmitt, Ms. Honohan said, posted a number of DFM forthcoming events into his calendar, with a commitment to participate as much as possible. A follow-up meeting was also scheduled between DFM and Schmitt’s office staff.
Both Ms. Honohan and Ms. Talento said they were gratified with both the meeting in general and the interest expressed in DFM activities by Schmitt and his staff. The legislative building’s surroundings, which Ms. Honohan described as providing a Ïfitting backdrop to earlier periods in American history when grass roots politics played a central role in the development of social policy,Ó also proved inspirational to the DFM co-founders as they remain determined to prevail in the fight against substance abuse.
Drug Free Massapequa was organized in October 2009. Its stated mission is to see a drug free environment in villages throughout the Massapequa area. It hopes to achieve that end through public awareness, education and advocacy. A most recent example was the court hearing for Dr. Francis. The defendant’s attorney sought Judicial Diversion for his client. However, DFM members mobilized into action, spearheading a petition drive, supporting the position of a district attorney, one that opposed Judicial Diversion. By the time of the hearing on Feb. 25, over 2,000 signatures had been compiled. Judicial Diversion was denied and the trial will now go forward.