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Johnson Park party drives home a drug free message

By ANGELICA A. MORRISON

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV)- Hundreds said “Yes” to the “Say No To Drugs Party” in Johnson Park Wednesday night.

More than 500 people attended the event, which was aimed at promoting a drug free message throughout the community. It was a message that seemed to be well received by those in attendance, like 9- year-old Romair Brown.

“I think everybody should not do drugs,” Brown said. “Because drugs can damage your life. And, sometimes if you do too much drugs you will die.”

JCP has been providing prevention programming to the members of the community for 18 years. It was the programs at JCP that helped turn Susan Hendrickson’s life around. She had a drinking problem, lost her job, got evicted and then found herself homeless.

“I just kind of really lost my way,” said Hendrickson, who said the loss of her husband also weighed heavily on her. “(Johnson Park) gave me a purpose in life again.”

Living live as a person without a home is something that Maria Scates, CEO of JCP, knows all too well.

“I was once homeless,” she said. “I lived on the streets. I actually started a shelter for the homeless, while I was homeless.”

And now, more than 40 properties, 33 safe and supportive housing units later, Scates has built an empire with the single mission of uplifting the lives of others helping them live up to their potential.

One of the speakers said toward the end of the event on the loud speakers “Some of us are just one paycheck away from homelessness. Don’t judge, because it can happen to anyone.”

- The organization has a whole listing of programs and events for the summer and they can be found on their website www.johnsonparkcenter.org.

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