SOUTHWICK – The Southwick Rotary Club is preparing to host a forum on February 7 at 6 p.m. at the Southwick Town Hall to discuss the opioid addiction crisis and they have announced that Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, will be the guest speaker.
Information provided by the Rotary Club on January 2 states, “Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi, Hampden County Sheriff, is taking a proactive approach to the epidemic by reaching out to his communities in Hampden County. His goal is to take advantage of programs and awareness before a victim needs to be incarcerated for various reasons regarding opioids and other drugs.”
Cocchi is trying to present the theme of “Not in my town, not with my kids.”
Along with Cocchi, members of the Southwick Fire, Police, EMT, school district, Select Board, and others will be a part of the forum to discuss opioid issues that have affected people in Southwick and the surrounding communities.
The Southwick Police Department has dealt with the consequences of opioid addiction and Chief David Ricardi is looking forward to the forum. Ricardi has been a part of events that revolve around opioid education and hopes this event features a much better turnout from the community than the past.
“I think it’s a great event,” said Ricardi. “I would just hope the community would take this seriously and come and offer their ideas.”
Doug Moglin, who is the Chairman of the Select Board, is pleased to see this forum happening as he’s been a part of helping create high school assemblies about opioids in the past. Last year, the Select Board met with Superintendent Jen Willard, Southwick Regional High School Principal Joe Turmel, and members of the police department to organize the assemblies.
Moglin is hoping that the entire forum and what they can bring to the community will help some people realize the brutal impact opioids can have on someone.
“Maybe it hits home for one or two kids and that’s all you can hope for,” said Moglin. “This stuff is deadly and it can be tragic the first time you try it.”
This event was first considered when Rotary Club Vice President Mike Parent started speaking with fellow members and mentioned that the organization should host an event on opioid use.
Parent has known Cocchi for a number of years so when he contacted the sheriff about the opportunity, Cocchi accepted the invitation to headline the forum.
“The sheriff is really a strong believer in cutting this off before it comes to him,” said Parent. “A lot of people don’t think it’s a big problem in Southwick, but it’s a bigger problem than most people think.”
Parent added that the Rotary Club will provide more information on the event as we get closer to the date.