April 2018: NVCC’S Response to the Opioid Crisis Conference | Naugatuck Valley Community College > About NVCC > NVCC Going Strong > President’s message > President’s remarks | Naugatuck Valley Community College
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April 2018: NVCC’S Response to the Opioid Crisis Conference

Good morning, dear NVCC friends, colleagues and students.  I offer words of gratitude and welcome as we engage in a dialogue and invite ways to explore how we work together to bring about an end of the opioid crisis in our city, state and nation that has brought about devastating loss of young lives and significant pain to many families.  Too many. Love begins at home.  So we will focus on the here and now in the communities we serve.

Today’s program is another of many initiatives the college is participating in, as we collaborate and support each other, within the confines of our college and with our community partners.  Opioid abuse is a serious threat to the future of many young lives.  How do we engage our young?  How do we prevent this addiction? How do we educate them?  How do we help them to understand that there is meaning and relevance in being alive and staying connected and engaged with our families, friends and communities?  A number of studies published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2018) point to the fact that at the root of the problem, drug abuse is really about disconnection and isolation.  In her article “Factors Associated with County-Level Differences in U.S. Drug-Related Mortality Rates,” Author Shannon Monnat explains that “work and family are two of the most important areas to which we assign meaning…Lacking or losing attachment to those institutions and the people in them can diminish meaning in our lives.”

The work of many at NVCC to bring meaning and relevance to our interactions with our students, too many colleagues to mention all, can be recognized this morning in the leadership, presence and work of Prof. Sandra Valente and Prof. Kathy Murphy as worthy and true and needed.  From our community partners, I extend a heartfelt thank you to the Honorable Neil O’Leary, Mayor of the City of Waterbury and Chair of NVCC Regional Advisory Council.  The Mayor is and has been a leader in combating this disease.  Alongside him, generous and giving leaders and experts such as NVCC’s capital campaign champion, Dr. Peter Jacoby, CEO of Emergency Services at St. Mary’s Hospital who is waging a significant fight to alleviate and erase this problem.   Another champion in the struggle, who will be here with us later on this morning, Waterbury Chief of Police Vernon Riddick, is worthy of recognition.

As we contemplate the rich and very important discussions and information that will take place this morning, I thank everyone present here, presenters and attendees for your initiative and sincere desire to teach and to learn about ways to combat this terrible situation and present epidemic:  Our young people die every day because of Opioid abuse.  As Shannon Monnat points out in the article referenced, “combating today’s opioid problem, and tomorrow’s new drug problem, involves all of us reflecting on what kind of society we want”.

I close my remarks by sharing a poem many on campus have heard me read before because it speaks precisely to the concerns we are attempting to address this morning and the reflection required for us all to remember above all our humanity and our obligation to reach out to one another so that this world has a future:

Can Any Beauty Match This?  By Hafits, 14th century Persian poet, adaptation by Daniel Ladinsky, 20th century American scholar

When the sun within speaks, when love

reaches out its hand and places it upon


Any power the stars can must can become so

rightfully insignificant.

What one heart can do for another heart,

is there any beauty that can

match this?

Brotherhood, sisterhood, humanity becomes

the joy and the emancipation.

Thank you for caring.  Mil gracias y bendiciones.


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