Apr 28, 2016
By Jordan Tillery, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Honored to have Lt. Governor Karyn Polito as our Special Guest for theWorcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association‘s Annual Swearing-in Dinner this Saturday evening at Pleasant Valley Country Club. The WCRDSA is an incredible charitable organization that through our Annual Winter Coat & Food Drives & Senior Picnic as well as numerous charitable donations throughout Worcester County helps countless individuals, families & non-profits in our community! Such a tremendous evening in celebration of a tremendous organization!
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