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Lindenhurst nonprofit gets $1.5M federal grant to aid anti-drug efforts in Babylon Town

From left, bottom: Valerie St. Bernard, of the

From left, bottom: Valerie St. Bernard, of the Deer Park Drug Prevention Coalition, Sharon Fattoruso,of Copiague Community Cares; and Lori Novello, of Lindy Cares, on Wednesday. The youth board of directors of Lindy Cares: Alyssa Rose, 16; Patrick Lopez, 17; and Angelina Mavros, 16, are in the back row. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

A Lindenhurst-based nonprofit is creating a support network with community coalitions aimed at drug and alcohol education and prevention for Babylon Town residents. 

The Lindenhurst Community Cares Coalition, known as Lindy Cares, will implement the Town of Babylon Cares Collaborative Project — Babylon Cares — to help stop substance abuse among youths and adults. 

Lori Novello, executive director for Lindy Cares, said students and local officials participated in a video shot Monday to discuss substance abuse, using the Babylon train station as a backdrop. She said the video would be streaming online in a month in conjunction with the launch of an interactive website that provides resources for health and social services.

“This grant seeks to connect our communities, which is why we have the Long Island Rail Road theme because we’re all connected in some ways,” Novello said. “We’re connected by our railroad and we’re connected by the people and caring.”

The video will be part of a campaign for the Babylon Cares project, which started after Lindy Cares received a $1.5 million Partnership for Success grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nikola Segoloni, project director for the grant, said the initiative will be funded at $300,000 over the next five years in hopes of finding a sustainable partnership afterward within the town. 

Novello said the video will be a launchpad for Babylon Cares, as she will collaborate with other town coalitions such as the Deer Park Drug Prevention Coalition and Copiague Community Cares, all of which provide addiction prevention resources.   

Valerie St. Bernard, who started the coalition in Deer Park, said all three groups can help one another and the town.

“Everybody in their own coalition has something to bring to the table, whether it’s a job or personal experience,” St. Bernard said. “I don’t know everything. Now there’s resources.”

Babylon Cares will also partner with the Babylon Town Beacon Family Wellness Center in North Babylon, and youth centers in the community.  

In a statement, LIRR president Phil Eng, who appears in the video with Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, said he provided the train station to partner with the community.

“We believe in the youth of Long Island, and their futures, and we’re proud to help spread this message of unity and support that we all have for our younger generations,” Eng said. 

Schaffer said he sees the Babylon Cares project as a countywide model for combining community coalitions and town resources to help youths and adults.

Patrick Lopez, 17, youth board president for Lindy Cares and a rising senior at Lindenhurst High School, said the Babylon Cares project is important for him because he wants his peers in other districts to seek help when it comes to drugs.

“Some kids are embarrassed,” he said. “We’re always trying to partner with other schools to make youth coalitions. We try to provide them with the facts so they can make an educated decision.” 

A COMMON CAUSE

The Babylon Cares project will create collaborations across the Town of Babylon, such as a public service announcement about substance abuse featuring local residents, and implement a social media campaign.

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