On Wednesday evening, the East Area Family YMCA in Fayetteville will be kicking off a community conversation series. It's first conversation will be about the growing heroin problem in Central New York.
The conversation is meant to raise awareness of, and educate people about, heroin addiction, as well as support those already dealing with it.
Among the event's 11 panelists is East Syracuse mom Melissa Hosier, whose 19-year-old daughter died of a heroin overdose in November.
Hosier said there is no typical heroin addict, and that she was very surprised when she learned her daughter had a drug problem. "She was smart," said Hosier. "She was pretty much an honor-roll student, artist. You know, came from a normal family."
Hosier added that she hopes tomorrow night's conversation will better educate parents and concerned residents. "I just want people to be aware - more aware - that this can happen to them, that you're not exempt from it," said Hosier. "And keep your eyes open and just talk to your kids about it."
The YMCA said it chose heroin as the first topic in its community conversations series because so many are concerned about its growing use. Several school districts support the conversation as they look to curb the problem through prevention.
YMCA board member Maureen Wopperer said several districts sent flyers home with students about tomorrow night's conversation, including East Syracuse-Minoa, Fayetteville-Manlius, Jamesville-Dewitt, Manlius Pebble Hill and Bishop Grimes.
"They are all sending out information to their parents," said Wopperer. "It is amazing to me that this is how on board everybody's gotten."
The meeting runs Wednesday night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the East Area Family YMCA on Towne Drive in Fayetteville.