Dec 5, 2016
GARDNER Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and some his staff dropped by Gardner’s Community Action Center on Wednesday morning to drop off several rather heavy bags full of winter coats, just in time for the onset of the New England winter.
CAC Executive Director Julie Meehan said the organization will provide coats to 215 Gardner families.
“Many people were coming in early to ask about the coats,” said Meehan.
“We really rely on this drive.”
In recent months, Meehan said, “We’ve had 12 hundred people come through our doors.
Four-hundred were looking for coats, winter clothing, heating assistance.
That’s about the same as last year, but they started coming in earlier.”
The Sheriff’s Coat Drive, was initiated by Evangelidis’ predecessor but, said Director of External Affairs Kimberly Roy, on a much smaller scale.
“They might have helped out one community a year,” she said.
“Sheriff Evangelidis greatly expanded the effort and it’s been a countywide effort for six years now.”
In addition to the sheriff’s stop in Gardner, Evangelidis and his volunteers were making stops Wednesday in Cleghorn and at Our Father’s House in Fitchburg.
The sheriff and his crew also stopped at the Spanish American Center in Leominster, and at three locations in Southbridge on Wednesday.
“There are a number of areas throughout the county that really need the kind of help were delivering today,” said Nic Barbara, Evangelidis’ director of external programs.
“There are some spots in the north county that need help, but Southbridge is an area that’s really hurting.”
“It’s hard to gauge in some places,” Meehan said.
“There are some people in Westminster, for example, that could use some help or may ask for help, but they’re embarrassed.
The hardest part is sometimes getting past the stigma.”
The deadline for contributing coats to the drive is usually at the end of November, just before Thanksgiving.
“People certainly are more than welcome to drop of coats at any time,” said Ellen Savickas, a board member of the Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
“If they come in after the deadline we simply deliver them next year.”
The Sheriff’s Coat Drive is a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Office of Community Corrections, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, the Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the Gardner Museum, RCAP Solutions of Gardner, Royco Distributors of Gardner, Warmer Winters of Leominster, Independent Cleaner of Fitchburg, and a long list of other local businesses and community partners.
“We can’t thank Sheriff Evangelidis and his team enough for coming in today to deliver hundreds of winter coats for the individuals who rely each day on our center,” said Meehan.
“Receiving these badly needed warm jackets helps us provide an invaluable service to those less fortunate in our community, especially during the cold winter months.”
Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke also was on hand to thank Evangelidis for his yearly effort to assist the less fortunate around Worcester County and in Gardner in particular.
Dec 5, 2016
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis returned to Swanson Rd. Intermediate School Monday morning, November 21, for some frank discussion with the 5th graders about drug and alcohol abuse. This is the second year that Evangelidis has brought his message to SWIS. Again, Evangelidis did a terrific job engaging the group of 9 and 10 year olds while discussing an admittedly difficult topic.
The Sheriff Office’s Face2Face program was created by Evangelidis, and is the only program of its kind in the country, according to Kimberly Roy, Director of External Affairs for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Evangelidis has had plenty of practice at this; “We’ve presented to over 182,000 students at over 100 schools” he said before Monday’s presentation. “We do about one of these a week.” Most of the presentations are to middle and high school students around Worcester County.
While not graphic, the presentation was eye-opening, as much for some of the adults in the room as for the students. Evangelidis started with a bit of humor, telling students he could read minds. “Think of a question to ask me,” he told them. “Okay, I know what it is. And the answer is I am 6 feet 7 and a half inches tall” joked the towering sheriff.
“No one thinks they are going to go to prison” Evangelidis continued, as images from one of the prison cells at the Worcester County House of Corrections played on the screen behind him. He went on to explain how prisoners are stripped of many privileges, any items that could be used as weapons, and even toilet seats on the commodes in the cells. Then he brought out a prison uniform to show the students, letting some of them feel the stiff fabric. “These are not made for comfort. They are made to be durable. These are 100% polyester.”
Evangelidis said almost 90% of today’s inmates are incarcerated due to addiction issues, and he asked the students why they thought people would choose to get involved with drugs. The students’ responses made clear that they are not naive to society’s drug issues. “Stress,” answered one student. “Depression,” said another. “They think it’s cool, said a third.”
Evangelidis touched on a number of misconceptions about drug use, notably that there are no “safe drugs” like marijuana is sometimes called, because it is just a plant. “Cocaine, opium, those are made from natural ingredients, too” he told the students. “And lots of drugs are made with dangerous chemicals, or things are added to them that make them more dangerous.”
One segment of the presentation showed before and after photos of well-known celebrities who became involved with abusing drugs, such as Macaulay Culkin and Lindsay Lohan. Evangelidis also incorporated images of some of the inmates they have encountered over the years. The drastic changes in the appearances of these individuals drew gasps and surprise from the students.
“Addiction,” Evangelidis concluded, “can happen to any family. Life is about choices. Everyone eventually has to make a choice about whether to get involved with drugs and alcohol. We want you to make the right choice.”
Dec 5, 2016
From left, Assistant Principal Matthew Urquhart, Superintendent-Director Michael F. Fitzpatrick, Assistant Superintendent-Director/Principal Anthony Steele, and Sheriff Lew Evangelidis who was presented with a BVT Polo at the close of the presentation about drug awareness at Blackstone Valley Tech.
Posted Nov 30, 2016 at 6:21 PM
Updated Nov 30, 2016 at 8:40 PM
By Christian Yapor Daily News Staff
UPTON – To raise awareness of the effects drugs and alcohol have on the human body, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis gave his second Face2Face presentation in two years to the 1,200 students of Blackstone Valley Tech.
During the presentation Tuesday, Evangelidis taught students how to make responsible decisions if they are ever faced with drug or alcohol related incidences. By sharing stories from inmates, videos, photographs and news stories with the students, Evangelidis demonstrated the harm drugs and alcohol have on the lives of substance abusers and their families.
The Face2Face program, which has been running for five years, reaches out to students in Worcester County and beyond, including Springfield, Lowell, and New Bedford.
“It’s important for students to understand the impact of drugs and alcohol abuse,” said Vice Principal Matthew Urquhart. “We’re constantly trying to teach our students to be respectful, productive citizens, and teach them how to respond to different situations they may face after graduation.”
Usually the Face2Face Drug Awareness Program uses cameras and software to take photos of the students and alter them to demonstrate the effects drugs can have on skin, teeth, and hair over time. However, there were technical difficulties with the equipment during the Blackstone Valley Tech presentation. Students were also shown ‘before and after’ photos of people who struggle with addiction to demonstrate how drug use impacts their appearance as well as their health.
“We care about you, but that doesn’t matter if you don’t care about yourself,” said Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick at the end of the presentation.
Urquhart said the school will continue to bring the program back every two years to educate the student on substance abuse awareness.
“Our job is to prepare them for their post-tech life by giving them knowledge to know the effects of drug and alcohol abuse,” said Urquhart.
Nov 2, 2016
PRINCETON — Alongside many community partners, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis announced the kickoff of the 2016 Sheriff ‘s Annual Winter Coat Drive for Worcester County recently while standing at the base of Wachusett Mountain earlier this month.
The sheriff ‘s coat drive is annual event that provides new or lightly used winter coats to families in need throughout Worcester County and is a collaborative effort between the Sheriff ‘s Office of Community Corrections, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff ‘s Association, Warmer Winters of Leominster, Rutland Women’s Knitting Club, Twin City Cleaners of Dudley and Independent Cleaners of Fitchburg.
Last year the Sheriff ‘s Winter Coat Drive provided over 3,000 new and lightly used winter jackets to families in need throughout Worcester County. Evangelidis said they are determined to surpass that number this year.
This year’s winter coat drive received a huge boost with a donation from Wachusett Mountain Ski Area of over 1,500 winter coats.
The Sheriff ‘s Coat Drive will be ongoing now through the end of November. Donations of new or lightly used winter jackets may be dropped off locally at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, the Holden Senior Center, Oriol Healthcare, or scheduled for pickup by calling 508-796-2638.