Riverhead Community Awareness Program, Inc.


A Drug-Free Communities Coalition

News and Events

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Pre-Prom Event and Summer Sendoff Campaign to Keep Teens Safe, Alcohol-Free and Drug-Free

Riverhead Community Awareness Program, Inc. (CAP), in partnership with Riverhead High School and the Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) Health Foundation, is once again coordinating a Pre-Prom Photo-Op and Red Carpet Reception on Thursday, June 26, 2014, from 5:00 to 6:00 PM prior to the Senior Prom. This year’s event will feature photo opportunities on the red carpet for prom attendees, families, and community members; it is designed to show support for our High School Seniors to have fun while remaining safe, drug- and alcohol-free.

“Last year’s Senior Pre-Prom Photo-Op and Reception was a huge success! It is our commitment to invest in the future of the youth in our community by addressing the issues of youth drinking, drug use, and driving behavior during the high risk social event of prom. By providing this platform we help keep them safe and give them an arena to create wonderful memories. We believe that as a community we can do more together,” said Demetrios Kadenas, Chief Development Officer, PBMC Health and Peconic Bay Medical Center, who is sponsoring the event.

Each year, 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related causes and more than 190,000 people under 21 visit and emergency room for alcohol-related injuries. Alcohol is the drug most abused by teens and causes more deaths in young people under 21 than all illegal drugs combined. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people 15 to 24 years of age and alcohol is implicated in a majority of these deaths, which is why Memorial Day through Labor Day is often referred to as the Hundred Deadliest Days for teen drivers and passengers. In addition, first time drug and alcohol use peaks for teens in summer.

To address this, Riverhead CAP is launching a Summer Sendoff and Youth Safety Campaign which includes a new 20 minute video featuring Riverhead High School students talking about underage drinking in the community. The purpose of the campaign is to give parents information and tools to better address the dangers of underage drinking and drug use with children of all ages. Through its website, Facebook and Twitter, CAP will provide the latest resources for parents to discuss these issues with their children and keep them safe through the summer and beyond. The new underage drinking video is available on CAP’s Vimeo page here.

“Although it’s best to begin talking about the risks of underage drinking and drug use at an early age, parents need to continue these conversations throughout the teen and college years,” said Felicia Scocozza, Executive Director of Riverhead CAP. “Many parents assume their children know how they feel about underage drinking and drug use because they’ve had ‘the talk,’ but teens that hear and see a consistent no-use message from their parents are less likely to use alcohol and drugs. On the other hand, parents who do not discourage underage drinking may be sending a message to their children that it’s not a risky choice or a big deal.”
According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), short frequent discussions rather than one “big talk” can have a real impact on a child’s decision about drinking alcohol. “Parents need to be clear and consistent about their views and rules, and the consequences for breaking those rules,” said Scocozza. She added that it’s also important to give children the opportunity to ask questions and express their feelings during these conversations, as children who have parents who listen to their feelings and concerns are more likely to say no to alcohol.
If you’re the parent of recent high school graduate getting ready to leave for college, it’s still important to share the risks associated with underage drinking with them. For example, 25% of college students who drink report negative academic consequences, and 90% of campus rapes and 50% of unplanned sexual encounters involve alcohol.
Finally, with prom, graduation and summer party season here, parents need to be aware of Suffolk County's Social Host Law. The purpose of the law is to deter underage drinking at parties where adults are present and knowingly allow the consumption of alcohol by minors. Penalties include $500 for a first offense and $1,000 and up to a year in jail for a second offense. This year, Riverhead High School attached information about the Social Host Law to every prom permission form.

Additional information and resources can be found here.

Police Officer Dennis Cavanagh to Lead 29th Annual Say NO to Drugs March

Officer Cavanagh at the 2011 CAP March
Riverhead Community Awareness Program, Inc. (CAP) will sponsor its 29th Annual Say NO to Drugs March on Friday, June 6, 2014. Police Officer Dennis Cavanagh, the Riverhead News Review’s 2013 Public Servant of the Year, will lead this year’s march.
“I’ve been part of this event for many years,” said Cavanagh. “I’m honored to be involved, and thrilled to be helping students understand they have the right and the power to make smart choices.”
“Officer Cavanagh leads the march every year on his highway patrol motorcycle,” said Felicia Scocozza, CAP’s executive director. “We are excited to also have him as our keynote speaker this year.”
Officer Cavanagh is in his 29th year at the Riverhead Police Department. The only member of the department’s highway patrol, he has been a trainer for the department since 1987. He has received numerous honors including the Riverhead PBA Presidential Award and a Suffolk County Proclamation, both in 2013. In February 2013, he swiftly tracked down and arrested four individuals who had just fired seven shots into a downtown home. Those arrests, combined with his “illustrious” career on the force, resulted in Officer Cavanagh being honored as the Riverhead News Review’s 2013 Public Servant of the Year.
Officer Cavanagh has partnered with CAP to help teach a four-part STOP DWI program for Riverhead High School students, as well as a workshop at the 2011 East End Youth Leadership Summit entitled, Risky Business: Drinking, Driving, Texting and Teens. Prior to serving in the Riverhead PD, Cavanagh served in the Marines for nearly five years.
“I don’t think CAP could have picked a better person to lead the march,” said Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller. “Dennis is very aware of the dangers of underage drinking and drug abuse, and the toll these crimes take on our youth and community. This is a big honor for him and for the department.”
Since 1983 Riverhead Community Awareness Program, Inc. (CAP), a nonprofit organization, has been providing drug and alcohol prevention, education and counseling programs for the Riverhead Central School District. CAP is best known for its two-year prevention program serving over 750 fifth and sixth graders in Pulaski Street School each year. The program is taught by community volunteers and student peer leaders, and concludes with the annual Say NO to Drugs March in which students march through Riverhead wearing Drug Free Body t-shirts.
Following the march, there will be a brief ceremony on the steps of Pulaski Street School in which Officer Cavanagh will address the students and community. After the ceremony, the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge #1742 will once again generously serve a picnic lunch to all of the students.
The 29th Annual Say NO to Drugs March begins at 9:30 a.m. in front of Pulaski Street School; heads south on Roanoke Avenue, then west on 2nd Street, returning to Pulaski Street School via Griffing and Hallett Avenues.

Riverhead CAP Seeks Volunteers

Riverhead Community Awareness Program, Inc. (CAP) is once again seeking volunteers to teach its 2014-2015 Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program to fifth and sixth grade students in Pulaski Street School. The program consists of seven monthly sessions taught by community volunteers who are assisted by peer leaders from the eighth grade and high school. Volunteers receive training by professional staff each month prior to the presentation, so there is no prior experience required. Training begins in mid- to late October.

The total time commitment is only about three hours per month during the school year. “This small investment of time yields a tremendous payoff, both for the volunteers and the community” said Felicia Scocozza, executive director of Riverhead CAP. According to Ms. Scocozza, CAP has provided this program for Riverhead students since 1982. It is a research-based program that undergoes rigorous statistical testing and evaluation each year to prove its effectiveness. The program concludes with the 30th Annual Say NO to Drugs March.

“Being a CAP volunteer has been a rewarding experience,” said Carla Hanson, a CAP Volunteer since 2007. “In this day and age, I feel we need to give our children as many tools as possible to combat the attraction of drugs and alcohol.” Hanson has also been a long-time member and past-President of the Riley Avenue PTO. “Students are very receptive to the program and they come away with skills that will help them say ‘NO’ to drugs and alcohol. They also learn basic life skills such as decision making, how to build self-esteem and how to handle bullying.”  Ms. Hanson continued, “I love the way CAP uses older students to be peer leaders. The younger children really enjoy learning from their older peers and it is a great reinforcement for the middle school and high school students.”

Research by the Corporation for National and Community Service also reports a strong connection between volunteer activities and living longer and healthier lives, because volunteering may enhance a person’s social networks to buffer stress and reduce risk of disease.


For more information about becoming a CAP volunteer, or to sign up, please contact CAP at 727-3722, or visit our Volunteer page here.