EAST COBBERS LEAD VOLUNTOURISM PROGRAM TO HELP HEROIN ADDICTS
eroin is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet and heroin addiction in the Atlanta area is skyrocketing at an epidemic level. In 2015 there were over 200 deaths due to overdose in the metropolitan Atlanta area, more than 300 across the state. Heroin and other opiates are readily available and the number of young people experimenting with the drug, becoming immediately addicted, is at a horrific rate of growth. Relapse in recovery is all too common: on average 90% of users will relapse within the first three months of their recovery. “Hope is the New Dope” is an initiative to provide those recovering from addiction to stay on the road to recovery through valuable community service. As a part of the “Power of Peace Project”, developed by East Cobb native and a Walton graduate, Kit Cummings, young people struggling with addiction or mourning the loss of a loved one due to overdose have the opportunity to enrich their lives and harness the confidence in themselves to stay sober by helping those also in desperate need. Cummings has extensive experience working with at-risk youth, globally, nationwide and in his native Georgia. He has worked with the Georgia Drug Courts, University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Atlanta Public Schools, Oprah’s Atlanta Belief Team, Atlanta Crime & Safety Task Force. Over the Thanksgiving holiday 25 young adults, families impacted by addiction and other travelers will be a part of the Guatemala Bottle School Project, building a school for the most impoverished children in South America. The innovative schools are built with “eco-bricks” created through recycled plastic bottles. “Hope is the New Dope” is the opportunity for recovering addicts to give back to children in dire need, and experience the “natural high” of selfless volunteerism. They will dedicate the school in memory of those who have lost their lives because of heroin overdose. It is a collaborative effort between the WorldVentures Foundation, Hope is the New Dope Tour with the Power of Peace Project and Hug It Forward.
This “Voluntourism” effort is led by another East Cobb native and Lassiter graduate Nadine Psareas,
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who is no stranger to the heartache of heroin addiction. Her 23-year old son Nick is a recovering addict and she understands the probability of relapse all too well. As the marketing director for WorldVentures, she saw the potential to aid young addicts through travel and meaningful, hands-on volunteer labor to build an entire school. Psareas is leading the effort to raise the funds needed to make the trip possible. The estimated comprehensive cost is $50,000. The WorldVentures Foundation has secured nearly $20,000 and generous individuals have contributed another $15,000, primarily through the GoFundMe website. The leadership at GoFundMe was so impressed with the creativity of melding volunteerism, new approaches to maintain recovery to addiction and humanitarian aid to the children of Guatemala that they donated another $1,000. Importantly, the young adults struggling with addiction are required to raise funds to sponsor their trip. “We are reaching out to everyone in the community who has experienced the trauma of a child with addiction to help make this trip happen,” states Psareas. “This can change a young person’s life. It can save it.” Those wanting more information on supporting or participating in the program can learn more at www.powerofpeaceproject.com and www. hopeisthenewdope.club.
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