The Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project (MVPASAP) was formed in 2013 to bring members of the community together, including experts on drug addiction issues and elected officials, to address substance abuse prevention, education, treatment and recovery.
MVPASAP, which now regularly holds public meetings in Methuen, was launched in response to the heroin epidemic that has ravaged the Merrimack Valley, with record-high numbers of police logs and obituaries noting fatal overdoses of the drug.
Now, the Massachusetts House of Representatives has included in its Fiscal Year 2017 Budget an amendment, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), for $20,000 in funding toward MVPASAP for resources, programs and community outreach.
“I can’t stress just how much we appreciate the work Representative DiZoglio has done for MVPASAP,” said Methuen resident Phil Lahey, co-founder of MVPASAP. “We have great volunteers who have been doing quite a bit with little to no funding and with these funds, we will be able to give these dedicated people a chance to start putting their ideas into practice, when it comes to awareness, prevention and education.”
“This funding is an absolutely beautiful thing,” said Colleen Lahey, daughter of Phil and a former heroin addict. “Heroin addiction is the most powerful and dangerous disease I have ever dealt with and any funding to go toward addressing this problem is wonderful. Thank you Representative DiZoglio for making it happen.”
“This is a community-wide issue and needs a community-wide solution,” said Anne Whalen, Methuen YMCA Executive Director and MVPASAP Youth Committee Chair. “This funding will enable MVPASAP to provide more awareness and education on substance abuse prevention, and have a greater impact in the Merrimack Valley.”
“We at MVPASAP are working hard to bring awareness and education to people across the Merrimack Valley,” said Al Ruthazer, board member of MVPASAP. “We are also trying to provide resources and information for those with substance abuse challenges and family members. Financial help is so appreciated.”
“Addressing addiction in our communities has been an overriding focus of mine during my time as State Representative,” said DiZoglio, who serves on the legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “I have had countless conversations with residents in my district and across the Merrimack Valley who have either struggled with substance abuse themselves or have friends or family who have battled addiction. I am so grateful to Phil Lahey for helping to launch this amazing group, as well as House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) for his support and leadership in helping to fight for these funds.”