I am writing in regards to Terri Cortvriend and her candidacy for the Rhode Island State Representative in District 72.
I support Terri in her campaign for many reasons, but I am writing to explain one reason in particular that many do not know about.
For about 8 years I was the Coordinator of the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition, the State created municipal substance abuse prevention coalition that was established in each town in Rhode Island by State law in 1987. During my tenure the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition conducted 3 Community Needs Assessments of the substance abuse issues in the town of Portsmouth which included student surveys in the Portsmouth grades from 7-12, focus groups of parents, students, key informant interviews with town leaders and related statistics.
I have had many interactions with Terri in her roles with the Portsmouth School committee over the years regarding substance abuse prevention policies and programs and procedures within the school system that needed changed and updated and she was always an advocate for the best interests of those students.
A few years ago, Rhode Island and Portsmouth began to feel the affects of the opioid crisis in the country. The Prevention Coalitions were all trying to find ways to get the word out and to rally communities to action to try and prevent as well as know of the local and state resources available to help.
One such effort was assisted by Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton Prevention Coalitions with the leadership of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Tiverton where the rector, Fr. John Higginbotham, hosted an information presentation open to all clergy in the three towns to specifically look at the opioid issues.
Information compiled about actual use by the three towns was augmented by the personal presentations by several Portsmouth mothers of their young adult children who had died of overdoses and or experienced serious addiction issues to the audience of faith leaders.
When Terri heard about this upcoming meeting she telephoned me and asked if she could attend and she was welcomed, as was Senator James Seveney who had also requested to attend, by Fr. Higginbotham.
That meeting and the stories the “Drug Moms “ – that is the term they use to identify their group of mothers who support each other and speak out about their families’ experiences to honor their children and to help others- shared that day stirred Terri to informally talk with some other Portsmouth residents about what she had heard.
Two informal conversations groups were held where community members got together to talk about the opioid crisis in our town and to ask questions about what can or should we do as a community to possibly help parents, children and families be aware of some of the dangers of this epidemic and make suggestions to the community and schools as well.
As a result of these informal discussions that were open to all, many positive steps have been taken such as greater awareness and acceptance within our institutions that a problem DOES exist and responses were necessary.
Curriculum in health classes at the Portsmouth schools were increased updated with additional concentration on substance abuse prevention, more programs and speakers were brought into the schools to address these issues, closer communication and cooperation between the schools, town government and police increased greatly to address this serious issue.
Throughout all the years I was involved as a Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist and working with the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition, Terri Contrived was and remains a strong advocate for substance abuse prevention and protection of Portsmouth’s youth and families as well. She never hid from the unpleasant facts nor made excuses for inaction but took the time to learn the facts of the issue and then aided and helped bring people together to help come up with ways to address these very difficult issues with actions. That’s the kind of leader that I respect and that is why I support Terri Cortvriend for State Representative for District 72 and would urge you to seriously consider doing so as well.
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