What is The Billerica Project?
The Billerica Project was started in October of 2012. We are a 501 c(3) nonprofit. Our goal is to offer a voluntary pledge to Billerica youth to refrain from drugs and alcohol. Once they take the pledge, kids are encouraged to purchase a purple Billerica Project t-shirt for $6 (shirts are provided if they cannot afford one). These youth are then presented with volunteer opportunities where they are asked to work with younger kids in town while wearing their Billerica Project shirt. The youth who take the pledge are the voice for our project. They are given the opportunity to be positive role models and to feel good about the choices they are making to take a stand against drugs and alcohol, be proud of who they are and love themselves enough to know they do not need to change themselves with self harm or substances. The kids are also given our contact information as well as a card that they can write their own promise to themselves on and keep with them as a reminder.
So…they took the pledge and they are wearing their Billerica Project t-shirt. Now what?
It is not enough to meet with a child, talk about how important it is to stay away from drugs and alcohol and to be a good person, give them a purple shirt, and walk away. There needs to be follow up. Yes, the kids are asked to volunteer with younger children in town and that builds self esteem while sending a positive message, but we still need to do more. Playing a sport, joining an activity or club costs money; money a family may not have. We are waiting until right before they graduate high school to have the only fun, sober, supervised activity of their teen years that is free; the all night graduation party.
We need to raise funds for kids who can’t afford extra curricular activities. So far we have been able to anonymously give one child a scholarship to sign up for a Billerica sponsored activity of his choice, but we need to reach as many kids as possible. We need to be able to hold events that are sober, fun and supervised that middle and high school kids will WANT to attend. We need to get our kids off the streets.
We need to TALK about substance abuse, addiction and the ways it has effected our own lives. It is time to break the stigma, stop hiding in shame and embarrassment because addiction IS a disease. This deadly disease does not discriminate. It touches EVERY economic class and it IS killing our children. Do not fool yourself into thinking “not my kid”. Follow your gut if you think something is wrong and DO SOMETHING before it is too late.
What if a child already has substance abuse problems or engages in self injurious behavior?
The Billerica Project is always available to assist a family in need of finding services for their child. This Spring, the founder of The Billerica Project will be certified as an Interventionist and will offer interventions to any Billerica family at no cost. In the meantime, we are available to meet with families, to help navigate the system and find beds in detox and rehab facilities for any Billerica resident. The system for addiction is broken, frustrating to deal with and it takes time to find facilities that can help.
What can I do to help The Billerica Project?
Donations are always appreciated and greatly needed. We are a 501 c (3) nonprofit organization and all donations can be written off. Spread the message that The Billerica Project is promoting and remember - it takes a village. These are all of our children and we need to stand together to ensure they have the chance at a happy, healthy and successful future.