The coordinator position for the nonprofit organization Safe in Sag Harbor had been open for a few months when Randy Hansen stepped in — and stepped up.
Since her arrival in July, Ms. Hansen, who has a master's degree in public health from the University of Utah, has engaged students in a "sticker shock" event: She and several youths asked stores that sell beer, liquor, or wine to put stickers on boxes and bottles urging customers not to provide alcohol to people under 21. To mark Recovery Month this month, the group has distributed purple lights to businesses, and last week held a vigil at the windmill on the wharf — also lit up in purple lights right now — to support and encourage recovery from addiction.
Upcoming activities include a student survey in the Sag Harbor School District to gauge the extent of drug and alcohol use among young people, an update to one that was done two years ago before the pandemic hit. Regular meetings will soon return, most likely in a hybrid remote and in-person format, with other community leaders in the areas of education, mental health, and more. The group will also take part in a drug take-back day, when unwanted medications can be safely disposed of.
"Ultimately, the goal of the coalition is to really reduce drug and alcohol use in youth," Ms. Hansen, who recently moved from Salt Lake City, said in an interview this week. "Something that we are trying to do as a more specific goal is getting the coalition back up and going. The position had been open for some time, and with Covid it has been a little bit slow, so I'm excited to breathe some new life and get it moving again."
In addition to educating youth, one of her goals is to erase the stigma of recovery from addiction. "We also talk about how important it is for people to understand and be supportive of those in recovery, to understand that recovery is possible . . . and to celebrate it a bit more, which is very important," she said. "People should feel proud in recovery -- it shouldn't be something that is kind of hidden."
Sag Harbor Police Chief Austin J. McGuire is looking forward to collaborating with Ms. Hansen on youth safety matters. "They are very active," he said yesterday. "They do good work." Ms. Hansen said she is excited to be here and hopes to make a difference.
"It's really important for the community to understand that substance use prevention for our youth is not just Safe's job, not just the school's job — it's really everyone's job," she said. "We should all be working toward keeping our youth away from substances and encouraging them to wait until they are 21 to use legal substances, but also really encouraging people to have those conversations with their children and be advocates against substance abuse."