The New York branch of the Foundation for a Drug Free World held a ceremony Friday night, June 25, to honor almost a dozen groups and citizens who have worked effectively towards stemming a deadly epidemic.
New York joined chapters of the group worldwide in marking the United Nations International Day Against Illicit Drugs and Trafficking, giving awards to key New Yorkers who have taken the lead in the fight against illicit drug use.
Highlighted in the group was Mr. Abukarriem Shabazz, President and CEO of Phase: Piggy Back, Inc., a drug free community based resocialization corporation located in Harlem for the past 42 years. He began his tenure as Comptroller as well as being an original Founder of the organization, in 1968, and is the first African American to hold the position of President for the NYS Association of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Programs.
“Mr. Shabazz retains the will and the vision to move our community towards a future free from the social ills it is now confronted with,” said Ms. Verlene Cheeseboro, head of the Harlem chapter of the Foundation for a Drug Free World.
Meghan Fialkoff, head of the New York Chapter of the Foundation, was the overall Mistress of ceremonies, and spoke about the Foundation’s making The Truth About Drugs education materials available in 20 languages. Based on authoritative surveys and studies, The Truth About Drugs series includes abundant first hand testimonials in a youth-friendly format: 13 pocket-sized booklets and short videos covering the most commonly abused drugs, a new documentary based on interviews with over 200 former addicts, which can be seen and ordered free, at http://www.drugfreeworld.org.
“But even with the most effective materials,” said Ms. Fialkoff at the gathering in Manhattan , “it takes live communication – with heart, courage, and energy – to really turn the tide of drug use. Tonight we want to honor some of those who – using our materials, or just sharing our goals and our commitment – are working effectively for a drug-free world.”
Also featured was New York State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr, who was kept in Albany at the last moment – working on the State budget, and whose trophy was received by Mr. Tommy Soto.
Receiving awards for their work this year were: Police Officer Iris Mercado, from the Midtown North Precinct; Ms. Sherry Thomas, Veritas, Inc; Mr. Michael Zotto, retired NYPD Detective and head of The Strategic Protection Group; Loretta Parsons-Poole, representing OASIS, for their “Your Story Matters” program; and Sandra Marguez, of Volunteers of America.
“We look forward to continue working with you in any way we can and we offer our resources including our videos, the booklets, and the other educational materials,” said Failkoff in concluding, “to help accomplish the goals we share.”
The United Nations International Day Against Illicit Drugs and
Trafficking was established in 1987 by UN resolution 42/112 to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving an international society free of drug abuse.
Besides their sponsorship of the Foundation, the Scientologists are steadfast opponents of drug abuse, as part of their work in the community. “From Los Angeles to Stockholm , from Copenhagen to Taiwan ,” said Fialkoff, Scientologists were observing the UN Day Against Drugs through effective action.
Caption: Highlighted for his longterm work in Harlem was Phase Piggyback CEO Abukarriem Shabazz.