By Jasmine Willis
DANSVILLE — The village came together along with local and county official to bring awareness to the opioid crisis plaguing our society.
On Aug. 17 several organizations, civic clubs, and law enforcement came to shed some light on the drug epidemic that has terrorized the area for far too long.
The event was the first of its kind in the village, and there is talk of having it again soon. Dansville Community Center opened its doors to local groups such as; CASA Trinity, Dansville Rotary, Dansville Lions, Dansville Loyal Order of Moose, Dansville Police Department, Livingston County Sheriff’s Mount Patrol and S.W.A.T., Dansville Ambulance, Dansville Fire Department, Grace Baptist Clean and Free, Dansville Strong Inc., and more. County officials Livingston County Judge Candidate Kevin Van Allen, Livingston County Judge Candidate Jennifer Noto, and Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes came to the event.
Dansville Village Trustee Floyd Sick spearheaded this event to make the community aware of the drug and alcohol abuse crisis in the area.
“It was a great way to bring all of the clubs and organizations together. We figured on doing it again soon. We might have it up at the (Dansville) Moose Lodge next,” he said. “We had the S.W.A.T. guys out here doing demos. We had demos of a roll-over with the troopers. We had the ambulance give CPR training. The sheriff brought the horses down.”
Sick said he was pleased with all the organizations and clubs that came out to participate in the event.
Dansville Police Chief Charlie Perkins said all of these organizations gather to inspire one another.
“All of the people who participate in these organizations are all here to inspire one another. It is great to see community members make the effort to inspire one another. These are the ones who come to help you out in a bind,” he said. “We have all had friends and family who are on hard times. Our own family and friends are not immune to this crisis. It is good to know there is help like this out there for them.”
Perkins added that the event was a visual reminder to what the community has to offer to help those in hard times.
“The core topic and main focus of the event was to bring awareness to the opioid crisis. The basic idea is that this has become a regular problem in our society as a whole. We want to refresh community members on how to be aware of this problem,” he said. “We are pushing them in the best directions like CASA, Noyes Hospital, and Noyes Mental Health. We did an easy-going activity for the event. We had the radar pitch to see how fast everyone could throw a baseball. The adults were having just as much fun with it as the kids were. It is a popular activity and allows the community to see police in a different light.”
Perkins said how the local and county law enforcement have worked well together in making the area safe. Yet there is always the chaos coming in from the city to threaten the small-town lifestyle with drugs and addiction. In fact, Perkins added that most of the drugs coming in are from the city or online users from areas like China and California smuggling them in town.
Dansville Strong Inc. member Tina Peaty was at the event to talk about the brand-new foundation for those who are dealing with tragedy.
“We have sold some shirts and the funds will go to keeping the organization going strong. We are here to let people know who we are, and what we are all about in the community. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and hearing what each organization does in the community,” she said. “This is a great event for the community to come out and be part of. We are going to continue to do good things with Dansville Strong. We have a strong group of women on board that are very passionate about this.”
Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said this event is just what the community needs right now.
“I brought Spencer and Justice here to show the community for the event. It is a great way to show people what the Mounted Patrol does in the county. We get to show everyone the importance of this patrol,” he said.
Ron Rauber, Grace Baptist Clean and Free member shares his story with how he fought addiction with those who struggle.
“Clean and Free is a program we do for those who struggle with any form of addiction. We have a huge problem with drugs and alcohol in this village. It is a Bible Ministry we do to help those with any kind of addictive behavior. I was in bondage to alcohol for 40 years. The Lord can deliver us,” he said. “We meet every Monday night at 7 p.m. and we also meet at the Livingston County Jail to help inmates. This is a very much needed ministry in the area.”
“My brother was a state trooper who passed away. He was part of the drug task force and would deal with this all the time. My dad kept a full bar in the basement. I would sneak down there and get into the alcohol from the age of 10 years old. I would get drunk by the time I was 13 years old. I knew this addiction from a very young age. I share my experiences with others to help them," Rauber continued.
Brent Dickerson, CASA Trinity Peer counselor gave a presentation on Narcan for the event. He warned the community that these drugs are being placed in lollipops and gummy bears now, and that if needed Narcan is safe to use on children for this reason. The dangers of this drug epidemic are getting worse and worse as long as they continue to push these drugs on younger people.
Sick added that being a volunteer for the Dansville Ambulance you see this kind of nightmare unfold every single day.
“It is a big problem for the Dansville Ambulance. We need to administer Narcan all of the time, and don’t know if that person will follow through with the treatment plan. No one is exempt in this community from this crisis. You can’t be a buddy and need to give them the kick they need to get better. I have been to several places where we have seen this all first hand,” he said. “People are getting caught with drugs in Dansville since we are holding them accountable. They are getting prosecuted here. We have had 537 drug arrests on I390 in the last three years.”
Sick said drugs have been so bad in the area for so long that whole families are ruined all the time.
“I just had a 26-year-old with a three-year-old, five-year-old, and was 20 weeks pregnant in the ambulance for a drug overdose. She went a whole year sober, and then just like that she took half a bottle of fentanyl trying to kill herself. The look I saw in her eyes as I treated her was that she knew she had failed after a year of being clean,” he said. “It is hard to see it. When you work at the police station or the ambulance you see it every day. She was a nice clean girl who got hung up on something bad. They are all our people. This is our town.”
If anyone is in need of help, there are plenty of places in the area to reach out. No one is alone in their fight with addiction.