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The CLOSE Blog: Featuring Shelly Warren, MSW, LICSW
Substance Abuse Response Coordinator for Longmeadow Public Schools, Shelly Warren, presenting “What is a drug?” to 5th graders at Wolf Swamp.

We are CLOSE Community.  

Several years ago, Longmeadow, like many towns, was feeling the impact of the Opiate Crisis.  Many of our families were affected, and too many lives were lost or damaged in the fray. Several different groups of people started working behind the scenes on various initiatives to educate the community.  Longmeadow High School sponsored a viewing of the Vermont-based documentary, The Hungry Heart, followed by a panel discussion. Some parent volunteers in the Safe Homes Network organized a day with Chris Herren, a former NBA player in recovery from an opiate addiction, with support from students, businesses, treatment providers and the school department.  The Longmeadow Police Department coordinated a Heroin Symposium bringing together many key stakeholders in our community. After that, we decided that our paths should overlap instead of cross. One month later, March of 2016, our coalition was officially born. We are a group of people, many of whom have been impacted by substance use disorders, who are committed to preventing others from suffering or suffering alone.

We all agreed that families need support and education to raise their children in a healthy community, to recognize and address symptoms early, and to get help if needed.  We are committed to education, prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery. We want our community to feel comfortable acknowledging addiction as a disease — without judgment, shame or stigma.  We began to identify the needs in our community and ways that we can work together to address them.

We are CLOSE Community, the Coalition of Longmeadow Organizing Substance Education in the Community.  We chose the name because Longmeadow is a close knit community, and that is one of our greatest strengths.   We are more impactful when we combine efforts to enhance the health of our community. We are parents, students, educators, business owners, health care providers, clergy, youth workers, police officers, and more.  

We have accomplished a lot in a small amount of time, including becoming a federally- funded Drug Free Communities coalition.  And along the way, we have forged some invaluable relationships. It is an honor to serve with such amazing, talented, compassionate coalition members…our CLOSE Community.  We hope you will join us sometime, as a volunteer or as a participant in one of our sponsored events.

Shelly Warren
Board President,
CLOSE Community

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