"Awareness without action is worthless."
That was the Facebook status that pushed Renato Manaloto's idea to bring drug awareness to East Meadow to reality. Manaloto, 22, and fellow graduate Giovanni Fuentes, 25, have started a Facebook group called "Wake Up, East Meadow" that has garnered more than 900 followers in less than three days.
"What surprised me the most is, as soon as people were given an avenue to voice their ideas and how to spread awareness, they started coming out there," Manaloto said. "It seems as if, people have all these ideas, but they felt their little idea couldn’t do much."
The duo has decided to sell bracelets in the name of the cause, although they have opened a poll to determine the color scheme. They are also considering all ideas that are being sent in by members of the Facebook group.
"We want to become a legitimate not-for-profit organization," Fuentes, a 2005 EMHS grad, said. "This is something that needs to be done because you can’t tackle a problem like this on your own."
East Meadow has lost several young people due to drug-related deaths, including David Kaufman, who died in 2008. His mother, Josephine Kulogowski, said a big reason why the drug problem has persisted in East Meadow is because of the police's "inability to act."
"When it becomes serious and your son is hooked on drugs, there’s nobody out there to help you before it gets to a dire stage," Kulogowski said. "I used to call 911 and tell them that my son is going to sell drugs and that he has drugs on him. No one took it seriously."
Fuentes said that they want to spread the message that a drug addiction is nothing to be embarrassed about.
"It’s something to get help with," he added.
Fuentes mentioned that, once the organization is legitimized legally, he and Manaloto want to hold events to help raise awareness. He also said that people from other towns have inquired about bringing the "Wake Up" theme to their areas.
"I would love to see it expand as much as possible," he said. "It’s a big problem throughout Long Island."
For more on "Wake Up, East Meadow," click here.
Do you think drug abuse is a major problem in East Meadow? What should be done to address it? Tell us in the comments.