"This shows how our community is working effectively to keep kids off drugs," said Thomas Rovito, Lisa's husband and a Loyal Knight of Weehawken Elks Lodge 1456.
His wife was honored as Drug Awareness Chairman of the Year at the recent convention in Wildwood. Rovito has been with the lodge for approximately four years and has worked with the Weehawken Alliance Against Alcohol and Drugs for 12 years.
One example of her efforts is providing schools with literature to educate students about drugs and alcohol - this year, working with Marvel Comics, lessons were taught with comic books about drug awareness. She also helped organize the Walkout on Drugs held in May along the Weehawken waterfront.
Rovito's husband explained that her work in the Beth Israel methadone maintenance clinic years ago propelled her into preventative action.
"She gets to share those experiences if she sees a kid going astray - but for her, it's a focus to keep the kids from winding up where she had worked previously," said Thomas. He added that keeping our youth from abusing alcohol and drugs will not only benefit the next generation but can only improve the impact they have on their elders, so it benefits children as much as the adults showing them the way. "We're protecting our future."
Case in point; Joseph Sainato, a fifth grader at Roosevelt School, wrote an essay for the Weehawken Elks Lodge 1456 annual Drug Awareness Essay Contest, and his essay was chosen out of many submissions by other fifth and sixth grade Roosevelt students, and he went on to win the Elks east district, and ultimately, the state. Contest entries came from more than 120 Elks lodges throughout the state.
Mayor Richard Turner said that he was impressed when Joseph read his essay, which explained the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, to the Town Council at the meeting.
"It speaks so highly of our educational system with his writing ability," said Turner. "He spoke very eloquently. Joseph is a wonderful young man, and it speaks well of our community to win statewide contests."
Turner spoke highly of Rovito as well, saying, "Lisa devotes a lot of her time to community service, and [the Elks] have a poster and essay contest," which Rovito is involved with.
Of course, Turner feels that Rovito and Joseph being recognized out of all in the state is a great honor for Weehawken and its volunteers working with the community.
"All these programs tie in," Turner said, explaining that the educational and recreation programs are extensive and work together to create drug awareness and prevent kids from turning to substance abuse. "By having [the education and recreation programs] from a variety of groups, it shows the children of Weehawken that there are many organizations to help and assist them."
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