Heroin addiction hits close to home, Boyertown group organizes community seminar

Submitted photo Brandon Traylor, 1996-2014

A group of individuals is making strides to bring awareness to the fact that heroin has found its way into Boyertown.

Heroin is so easy to get in this town. It is an epidemic, said Pat Erb of Barto. In August of 2013, she discovered her grandson Brendan was battling with heroin addiction. It didnt occur to us to be aware of drugs; we didnt know where to go or where to start.

The family sought help and information, and knew they were in for the fight of their life.

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On April 7, Brendan lost his life.

In an effort to do something, Erb called local police departments as well as other area figureheads to discuss what was happening in town and what could be done about it.

We have to be informed and have the knowledge. Im going to reach people one way or another. This is step one.

Addiction: The Impact and Effects on the Family will be held by Instructor Michael Rowe, President of Addiction Prevention Strategies.

The educational seminar and discussion is scheduled for Sunday, June 29, from 12 to 1:30 p.m. at St. Johns Lutheran Church in Boyertown. This event is free and open to the public.

The main goal of the event is to discuss what heroin is, its presence in Boyertown, and what to look for.

Our kids dont get it. We have to step forward, said Erb. If we dont get it, how are they going to learn? Thats my goal to bring it back through generations to the young people.

Erb hopes the seminar will bring attention to how addiction affects families and also to the fact that prescription drug abuse can lead to heroin use.

If we can get people together, you can make change, make this happen, said Pastor Dan Burris of St. Johns Lutheran Church, mentioning that he has heard about the drug problem in Topton and Kutztown. This is going on in our community as well. The age [group] is surprising to me affecting a lot of our youth.

Erb and her family set up a table at the BMBA Sidewalk Expo on June 10 to raise awareness about the problem.

I think its a community that has to step up, said Erb. People are just too busy to take a look. People like me backing what needs to be done.

Theres only so much the school and churches can do, it [the education] begins at the home, said Burris. He hopes all church will follow this example of a community gathering to battle a community problem.

Thats the key--getting the word out, said Erb. A group has to step up and when the groups steps up, the community needs to step up; the community needs to back up its efforts.

Erb created a committee to help promote the seminar.

Its good that were getting somewhere, she said. People are taking the fliers; they dont know what to do either. This is a start.

About the Author

Rebecca Blanchard

Rebecca won't hesitate to tell you that she has enjoyed writing throughout her entire life. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she graduated from the professional writing program of Kutztown University in 2012. Rebecca joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in July of 2012 as editor of The Boyertown Area Times following her internship with the newspaper. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling and cooking gluten-free foods. Reach the author at rblanchard@berksmontnews.com or follow Rebecca on Twitter: @boyertowntimes.