Meriden non-profit, hosting second rally Saturday, honored for substance abuse advocacy, education

Meriden non-profit, hosting second rally Saturday, honored for substance abuse advocacy, education


MERIDEN — City resident Bonnie Lagocki recently accepted an award from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on behalf of The Roadway of Hope CT for the group’s work educating students about the dangers of substance abuse.

The Roadway of Hope CT, a non-profit formed a year ago, promotes advocacy for people and families that struggle with substance abuse. The organization is hosting its second rally at Hubbard Park Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m. to raise awareness and funds.

Lagocki is a member of the non-profit’s board of directors and treasurer. Roadway of Hope CT was among 12 groups or individuals honored by the U.S. Attorney’s heroin education action team for its work to educate students about the dangers of addiction.

“The number of heroin- and fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Connecticut has reached staggering proportions,” said a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “In 2012, there were a total of 357 accidental overdose deaths, 174 of which related to heroin and 14 of which related to fentanyl. Within four years, those numbers have nearly tripled. The epidemic has impacted every town in Connecticut. In 2017, the number of overdoses has continued to rise, as more toxic forms of fentanyl enter our state.”

To combat the epidemic, the U.S. Attorney’s Office created the heroin education action team, made up of prosecutors, law enforcement officers and parents. The goal of the team, referred to as HEAT, is to bring a message of prevention to every high school student in the state.

“This award honors and recognizes the selfless efforts of 13 individuals who have dedicated themselves to the HEAT initiative and more specifically to preventing our children from using and abusing opiates and opioids,” said the statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Each of these individuals has a compelling, heart-wrenching story about opiate addiction and its claim on a cherished son, daughter, sister or brother. The impact of their work will be felt for many years to come.”

Lagocki worked with Road of Hope CT founder Susan Willette and others to build the non-profit in June 2016. The organization hosted its first rally two months later. Saturday’s rally will feature music, food, speakers and a candlelight vigil.

Lagocki, a supervisor at Webster Bank in Southington, said she had personal reasons for joining the group, but “it’s not my story to tell.”

“I was watching my children’s friends dying,” Lagocki said.

Members of The Roadway of Hope CT attended a special ceremony at the US Attorney’s Office in New Haven to accept the group’s award.

“Bonnie is a great asset to The Roadway of Hope CT,” Willette said. “Besides being one of our treasurers she is compassionate, kind and caring person who is driven to change the stigma and stop the silence of substance use disorder. The Roadway has partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s HEAT program to educate the students and their parents of Connecticut by speaking at schools around the state about the dangers of drugs and how they have affected our families. The award was presented to us in recognition of that work.”

The Roadway of Hope CT will raffle off two bicycles Saturday for individuals in recovery to get back and forth to meetings. It is also raising funds for a scholarship program for siblings of those with substance abuse issues whose future goals may be interrupted because family money went to pay for a sibling’s treatment. The group also has a fund for transportation costs for parents who wish to visit a child in recovery.

“We’re just trying to do good things for good people,” Lagocki said.

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