At the May 23 Outagamie County Board meeting, a ceremony emceed by Chris Wardlow was held to recognize contributions made by community members fulfilling the mission of the Outagamie County Pre-Action Network, which is a county-sponsored partnership with schools and community organizations advocating for and supporting efforts to prevent and reduce the misuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other addictive substances.
Chris Beyer, Drew Flores, and Mitchell Lund from Appleton East were recognized for the leadership they brought to Patriot Peers, a student-led organization providing education and awareness about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs by encouraging young people to make healthy choices. A key initiative was Teens Against Tobacco Use, TATU, whose goal is to discourage youth from initiating tobacco use to prevent addiction to nicotine; as a result, fewer young people are choosing tobacco.
Emma Eggen, Joshua VanderHeiden, Mason Bartol, and Megan Karrmann from Kimberly High were recognized as leaders on the Advisory Board for Life-Force, a student-led organization in which student members pledge to be tobacco, alcohol and drug free. These four led several initiatives to educate students at all levels about the importance of making healthy choices.
Rise Together members, Anthony Alvarado, Douglas Darby, and Nadine Machkovech were recognized for creating a national movement that empowers students to reach out and talk about issues in their lives relating to substance abuse, bullying and mental health through educational seminars, student-led programs, community awareness, grassroots advocacy, and motivational workshops. Their vision is to create a community where all youth are loved, heard, and inspired to live in hope.
Jesse Heffernan, through his lived experience with substance abuse and mental health, was recognized for his work as the founder and leader of HELIOS Addiction Recovery Services where he trained over 90 Recovery Coaches statewide. Currently, Jesse, director of NAMI-Fox Valley’s Iris Place Peer Run Respite, also sits on the advisory boards of Rise Together, WI Voices for Recovery, Stop Heroin NOW, and serves as an appointed member of the Governor's State Opioid/Heroin Task Force.
Brian Roebke, a journalist and editor of the Heart of the Valley Times Villager, was recognized for his willingness to cover and publish stories which helps generate awareness about important substance use and mental health issues impacting individuals and families in the Valley.
Bev Kelley-Miller, whose daughter, Megan, died from a heroin overdose was recognized for her efforts in trying to prevent this from happening to someone else's child, partner, friend, parent, relative. Earlier this month, Bev coordinated a community lecture series, attended by well over 400 people, titled the Heroin Highway, which provided presentations on a range of topics spanning prevention, treatment and recovery.
The brief ceremony ended with a standing ovation from the Outagamie County Board members.
We can't thank the Outagamie County Pre-Action Network enough for recognizing these types of efforts!