Apr 28, 2016
By Jordan Tillery, email@example.com
FITCHBURG — More than 300 Fitchburg High School freshmen watched in horror as Principal Jeremy Roche’s face became darkened and hollowed before their eyes on the projector in the school’s auditorium Thursday morning.
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis was using an image of Roche’s face to show the effects of different drug addictions using Face2Face software.
Five years ago Evangelidis began his Face2Face program to educate students about the facts and myths surrounding drug and alcohol addiction.
He has now presented to more than 200,000 students in the region.
He said he changes it every year depending what drugs are popular at the time. This year he’s added vaping and more information about opiates.
Students oohed while watching the reconstructive software transform the familiar faces of students and faculty members depicting what happens after prolonged opiate use.
One of the reasons he created the program geared towards younger students is because the majority of addicts who have shared their stories with Evangelidis said their addiction began in either high school or middle school, he said.
“Twenty-five percent of the crowd will never need to hear this, 25 percent are past this point,” Evangelidis said. “But 50 percent of students are still working through these issues.”
He held up Drano and other cleaners to show what chemicals can end up in the drugs that are considered “safe” and addressed myths about various drugs and alcohol.
Apr 28, 2016
By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Northborough – With humor, pop culture references, and actual footage of inmates, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis presented his powerful Face2Face Program to eighth-grade students at Robert E. Melican Middle School.
The program’s intended purpose is to debunk the myths about substance abuse with actual facts and reinforce the notion that your choices really do matter, especially in middle and high school.
He has presented this program for the past five years to over 190, 000 students and is passionate that he is making a difference by giving these students hard facts in an entertaining and engaging way.
“As a school community, we are well aware of the opioid issue facing all communities and middle school is a time when kids have a lot of choices to make,” Principal Michelle Karb said. “We know a lot of experimenting takes place. I think that combined with how society views drugs and alcohol, this [program] seemed like a good fit.”
“I believe that because the inmates in my jail, where 90 percent of them are substance abusers, have told me that they wish they knew then what they know now as they would have made different choices,” Evangelidis said. “The fact of the matter is that these drugs are dangerous and addictive. Addiction is a disease. All drugs effect the brain especially in teens.”
One of the myths, he told the students, is that substance abusers can quit whenever they want but that is not the case. For those that end up being incarcerated, their life changes fast when they are in a jail cell. The sheriff elaborated a bit on what a day in prison looks like for an inmate, even showing an actual prison uniform.
He used examples of many recognizable faces in pop culture who are affected by drug and alcohol use, such as Charlie Sheen, Macaulay Culkin and Lindsay Lohan, to show the negative effects on their physical appearance. He spoke of Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and others who have died from drug overdoses. The common thread with these stars is that they all made bad choices.
One of the most compelling parts of the sheriff’s presentation was software that allowed students to see themselves as addicts and the physical deterioration drug abuse can cause. Pictures of several students were taken and transformed in front of the audience.
The students were asked why they thought people used drugs and alcohol; they gave many thoughtful responses including peer pressure, depression, to fit in, to feel good, to have fun, for escape, and more.
Evangelidis went on to explain why marijuana is called the “gateway drug” with the myth that many feel it is safe because it’s natural and from the earth.
“I heard from so many inmates that they started with marijuana, which they began to smoke on a daily basis. They relied on that daily high. Once you get high, it changes everything,” said Evangelidis.
The students listened attentively as Evangelidis explained the myths and facts about many addictive substances.
“Another common myth is that prescription medications are safe because they are prescribed by a medical doctor,” he noted. “When they are not used as intended they can be quite dangerous. It’s unfortunate that this generation is being referred to as ‘Generation Rx’ as many have tried prescription opioids.”
Evangelidis said he hoped the program reached at least a few students, encouraging them to make better choices.
(l to r) Eighth-grade students Liz DeVarney, Lucy Ganvin, Jack Rafferty and Quinn Potter with Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis. The students allowed the use of their photos to simulate how they would be transformed if they abused substances.
Apr 28, 2016
I would like to thank Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and his team for the outstanding event, “Shelter Me: Partners for Life,” a celebration of shelter animals at the Hanover Theatre on October 20. Sheriff Lew and his team took a chance on a shelter dog named Nikita from the Sterling Animal Shelter and trained him to be an amazing and competent K-9 drug detection dog. Nikita’s story is featured in the PBS Series “Shelter Me,” an inspiring series that celebrates shelter pets with positive and uplifting stories.
Currently, there are thousands of shelter animals across the United States waiting for their forever homes. Thank you to Sheriff Lew, Lt. Thomas Chabot and their team for helping in efforts to change the world for shelter pets by adopting Nikita, and sharing their story.
All the proceeds of the “Shelter Me: Partners for Life” event are going to our local animal shelters.
Laurie J. Drazek
Social Worker/Animal Shelter/Rescue Volunteer
Apr 28, 2016
By Megan Baynes
Officers Frank Crosby of Holden, and Robert Noonan Jr of Webster have been recognized for their brave actions at the scene of a fiery crash that took place in July 2014.
They have received the Medal of Valor Award from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. This is awarded to any correctional employee who demonstrates actions above and beyond the call of duty, disregarding the potential for danger to themselves.
Crosby is a 25 year veteran and Noonan a 14 year veteran with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
On July 14, 2014 Officer Crosby and Officer Noonan, while transporting three inmates to the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, observed a vehicle rollover on the median strip of interstate 495. In response, the officers immediately activated the emergency lights, stopped the transportation van to clear the left lane for emergency responders and contacted 911.
Officer Noonan than ran to the vehicle and observed the operator was inextricably trapped and that fire had broken out. With the vehicle fully engulfed, Officer Noonan retrieved fire extinguishers and water bottles from Officer Crosby as well as concerned bystanders which then brought the fire under control.
Unfortunately, the vehicle operator died from his injuries sustained during the accident. However, no additional injuries were incurred that day due to the rapid response of Officers Crosby and Noonan to control the scene.
“The actions taken by Officers Frank Crosby & Robert Noonan on the day of July 14, 2014 are nothing short of heroic and embody the spirit of the Medal of Valor awards they received,” Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis said. “It takes an incredible amount of courage to run towards that sort of fiery scene.”
“This truly is an example of correctional officers going above and beyond the call of duty,” he continued. “They represent a true officer and we are all very proud of what they did.”