Jun 4, 2014
Inmate Matthew McCourt, left, listens as Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis visits a Community Service Program work site at Milford Town Hall Wednesday. Daily News staff Photo/Ken McGagh
By James Sheridan
Daily News Correspondent
Posted May. 29, 2014
MILFORD – A group of uniformed men sat around a table at Town Hall Wednesday morning. The room could hold a few hundred people, but only five sat around the small plastic table set up for lunch.
As they ate, the men joked about their bosses and the series of jobs they recently completed.
However, unlike other groups of co-workers, the men are inmates at the Worcester County House of Corrections and their boss is Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis.
On Wednesday, the four-man crew and a corrections officer came to Milford to lay down mulch at Town Hall, the Senior Center and the Police Station and clean the buildings’ facades. They expect to be in town through Friday.
The crew was requested by Town Administrator Richard Villani, whose only charge for their services was buying lunch. According to the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, the program, utilized nine times since 2011, has saved Milford nearly $31,000 in hourly wages.
This crew, one of four, is part of the inmate Community Service Program at Worcester County’s House of Corrections. The program, according to Evangelidis, is “a win-win,” because it saves towns and community organizations money while providing the inmates an opportunity to work and learn skills that can be used upon their release from prison.
Evangelidis, who accomplanied the crew to town, said he is “very proud of these inmates,” because they have earned the right to participate in work crews and “are turning their lives around.”
Andy Gemme, one of the inmates working in Milford this week, said communities are grateful for the work the inmates complete, as many of their jobs are for churches, community centers and town halls.
Corrections Officer Mike Brennen, of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, accompanied the crew and said every inmate who wishes to enter the program is first interviewed by the classification board before being accepted.
Brennen said only inmates who have committed non-violent crimes are accepted.
Jordan Peterson, another of the workers, added that only inmates with “community-friendly crimes,” are eligible for the program.
Peterson, the crew’s newest member, was only on his second day of work, but said the program is one of the best to help rehabilitate inmates.
For Matt McCourt, another crew member, the program has helped him establish a routine that will help him stay away from drugs after he is released. “For me,” he said, “drugs were part of the equation that landed me here.”
McCourt added that for some in the program, the work represents the first time they have held a job, which leads to a schedule that consists of more than waking up and figuring out where to get their next fix.
Inmates, he said, learn marketable skills and it leads them to think, “Hey! I could do this when I get out … instead of drugs.”
Jun 4, 2014
Sheriff Lew Evangelidis gives his Face2Face drug prevention program to students at Westboro High School Thursday.
(T&G Staff/RICK CINCLAIR)
By Susan Spencer
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
Thursday, May 29, 2014
WESTBORO — It’s the before-and-after pictures that always get them: Fresh-faced young people morph on the screen into ravaged shells of their former selves, with mottled, pocked skin and sunken faces, the effect of just a few years of heavy drug use.
It can be seen in faces of the famous: actors Lindsay Lohan and Macaulay Culkin, for example; in typical county jail inmates; and in a computer simulation of local high school students’ photos.
On Thursday, Westboro High School students were among the 100,000 students in Central Massachusetts over the past three years to see the physical effects and hear a debunking of the myths of opioids, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs as part of Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelides’ Face2Face program to prevent substance abuse.
Mr. Evangelides started the program after learning that roughly 90 percent of the 1,100 inmates at the Worcester County Jail got there because of drug and alcohol addiction.
He said drugs were a major problem at the time he was elected in 2010. But the problem has gotten worse, particularly with what he called the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and its common progression to heroin.
Mr. Evangelides told the students that they were members of “Generation Rx,” reflecting the rapid growth in abuse of prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin over the last decade. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, in 2010 nearly as many youths tried prescription painkillers for the first time as tried marijuana.
Instead of the bring-your-own-bottle drinking parties of many middle-aged parents’ youth, high school and middle school students today go to “Skittle parties,” where they bring pills they’ve procured from medicine cabinets, Mr. Evangelides said. The practice is also known as “pharming” or “trail mixing.”
“Young people don’t even think they’re real drugs and they’ll send you to places you wouldn’t dream you’d go,” Mr. Evangelides said, as he showed video footage of the 24/7 monitoring and lack of amenities such as toilet seats that jail inmates live with.
“None of you are thinking that if you pop a Perc or an Oxy or Vicodin, you’d end up addicted,” he continued. “No one is going to offer you that Oxy and tell you, after a while you’re going to need three, six, 10 (pills), and 80 milligrams of Oxy costs $80 … and a bag of heroin is cheaper than a six-pack. You go right from that pill to that needle.”
He also exploded myths about popular club drugs such as “Molly,” a supposedly pure form of Ecstasy. Citing two deaths in one week last year of New Hampshire students who overdosed on the drug, Mr. Evangelides said, “There is no such thing as a safe dose of Molly.”
Even marijuana, which many baby boomer parents consider relatively safe, causes brain, behavioral and physical damage similar to that caused by alcohol and other drugs.
Police Chief Alan Gordon said before the program: “We have a heroin problem. We have opiates. We just did a drug search here last week and had two hits of marijuana. We’ve had overdoses.
“They think marijuana is fine, but it’s definitely a gateway. The high isn’t high enough, so they move to pills. Then the money becomes a problem, they turn to heroin.”
Former Westboro High School tennis coach Nancy Quimby, who helped bring the Face2Face program to the school, said, “Even in Westboro, it’s a problem.”
Erin McCafferty, a junior, said as she walked out of the auditorium afterward: “It was really informative. The prescription pain ones — I’ve had family members overdose and die from it.”
“Seeing the pictures really makes you see how bad it is,” said junior Margaret Baldwin.
Sophomore Hailey Erb said she was struck by the video of an 18-year-old boy who became a paraplegic after he overdosed and his friends didn’t call 911 until several hours later, resulting in permanent brain damage.
Hailey described the drug scene in Westboro: “It’s mostly weed here, but I’m sure there’s lots of other drug abuse. I don’t think they think about it too much. People don’t see the negative impacts it (marijuana) has.”
Principal Brian M. Callaghan said that a community coalition was forming to bring together businesses, medical professionals, schools, town leaders and others to focus on substance abuse and promote healthy living.
Mr. Callaghan said there’s been an uptick in prescription painkiller and marijuana use, while alcohol use among students is relatively low.
But he’s hopeful that with more education, awareness and community involvement, attitudes, including the “amused tolerance” many hold toward marijuana use, will turn around.
“When the parents believe in the message, you see the drug use go down,” he said.
Nov 29, 2013
Lew Evangelidis pictured with seniors from the
Uxbridge Senior Center during a senior safety lunch and learn.
(Blackstone Valley Tribune)
UXBRIDGE — Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis recently had the pleasure to host a Senior Public Safety Lunch & Learn at the Uxbridge Senior Center on Nov. 1.
The sheriff hosted the forum as part of the Sheriff ’s Senior Citizen Safety Initiative for Worcester County. The Worcester County Sheriff ’s Office TRIAD Program works closely with local law enforcement, elder services and the council on aging and serves communities throughout the region by providing seniors with continuous education on elder safety tips and public safety.
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis
pictured with Uxbridge Senior Center
Executive Director Marsha Petrillo in front
of the Uxbridge Senior Center during the Sheriff’s
recent visit to meet with Uxbridge seniors to
discuss the senior safety programs offered by the Sheriff’s Office.
During his visit, the sheriff highlighted the many services offered to seniors through the Worcester County Sheriff ’s Office such as special illuminated custom house numbers, 911 emergency cell phones, first responder file of life cards, iris recognition technology and the LoJack SafetyNet Program utilized in the event a senior with a condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia were to wander off or go missing.
“It’s always a pleasure to spend time at the Uxbridge Senior Center, today’s lunch and learn was a wonderful opportunity to share important public safety information with our senior community. Our TRIAD Program as well as the many other services offered by the Sheriff ’s Office work to effectively identify and address the public safety needs and concerns of our senior population, as sheriff I am committed to making our seniors feel safe and secure in their communities,” said Evangelidis.
Worcester County Sheriff pictured with
Uxbridge residents Gail Boutiette and her mom
Shirly Sehultzberg who was celebrating her
85th Birthday that day during the Sheriff’s senior
safety lunch & learn recently held at the Uxbridge Senior Center.
“We can not thank Sheriff Evangelidis enough for coming to our senior center to discuss the many safety programs offered to our seniors by the Sheriff ’s Department. We are very fortunate to have a sheriff who is so committed to the public safety of our seniors and our community,” said Uxbridge Senior Center Executive Director Marsha Petrillo.
The Sheriff ’s senior safety lunch and learn will also be shown on Uxbridge Community Television (UCTV).
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis pictured with Uxbridge Senior Center Director Marsha Petrillo during the Sheriff’s recent visit to the Uxbridge Senior Center where the Sheriff hosted a senior safety lunch & learn.
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis demonstrates
the house-numbering program available to
seniors through the Sheriff’s Office at a recent
senior safety lunch and learn recently hosted by
the sheriff at the Uxbridge Senior Center.
Nov 8, 2013
To the left is Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and Worcester Sharks Senior Director of Business and Community Development Michael Myers are pictured with Worcester Sharks mascot Finz as they announce the kickoff of the eighth annual Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Food Drive, to begin Nov. 9.
WORCESTER — Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis and Worcester Sharks Senior Director of Community Development Michael Myers have announced that the Office of the Worcester County Sheriff and the Worcester Sharks have teamed up with Price Chopper for the eighth annual Worcester County Sheriff’s Food Drive, to be held when the Sharks host the Providence Bruins at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at the DCU Center.
All fans that donate a canned food item at the game will receive a free ticket voucher to a future Sharks game, compliments of Price Chopper. All collected food will go directly to Friendly House of Worcester to be distributed to needy families throughout the Worcester area in time for Thanksgiving.
“The Worcester Sharks organization is thrilled to partner with Sheriff Evangelidis and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Friendly House, WPI Fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha and Price Chopper again this season for the eighth annual food drive,” said Mr. Myers. “It is important to do all we can to assist those who are less fortunate, especially as we get ready for the holiday season.”
More than 50,000 pounds in donated food items were collected last season, feeding more than 2,000 local families in need for Thanksgiving. The Sharks and sheriff hope to surpass that goal this season.
“Once again, I am looking forward to teaming up with the Worcester Sharks, WPI fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha, Price Chopper and the Friendly House for this year’s 8th Annual Food Drive,” Mr. Evangelidis said. “As the holiday season approaches especially during this difficult economic time, it is extremely important to do all we can to help those families in our community who may be less fortunate. The food drive has been an extremely successful annual event and we are determined to surpass our previous goals to provide those families who may be in need with a wonderful holiday meal.”
In addition, nonperishable food items may also be dropped off from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 15 at the Worcester PriceChopper, 50 Cambridge St.