Woman’s club fund-raiser fights substance abuse

More than 200 women enjoyed last year’s fashion show fundraiser presented by the Wilton Woman’s Club. — Peggy Garbus photo

More than 200 women enjoyed last year’s fashion show fundraiser presented by the Wilton Woman’s Club. — Peggy Garbus photo

The Wilton Woman’s Club will hold its 10th Annual Fashion Show Fund-raiser on Thursday, March 30, from 11 to 1:30 at Rolling Hills Country Club. The beneficiary this year is a Wilton Youth Council initiative to educate young people and adults here about how to prevent substance abuse. The club raised $35,000 last year at its event for the Wilton Loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail.

“Substance abuse is an increasing problem in Connecticut and the entire U.S.,” a club press release said. It noted prescriptions for opioid pain relief medications quadrupled from 1999 to 2014 according to the Centers for Disease Control. Similarly, drug overdose deaths from opioids have quadrupled in America during the same period.

The Northeastern U.S. is experiencing a higher rate of increase in drug overdose deaths than the rest of the country, and in Connecticut, the number of drug overdose deaths jumped to 917 in 2016, from 729 in 2015, and 357 in 2012, according to the Office of the State Medical Examiner.

According to the press release, Ellen Brezovsky, director of community relations at Silver Hill Hospital, says one factor driving abuse of prescription pain relievers is self-medication for symptoms of anxiety and depression. Dr. Suniya Luthar, a Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, and professor emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College, who specializes in research on teens, agrees that anxiety, depression and substance use among youth are high in communities like Wilton. In a recent talk she gave at Wilton High School, sponsored by the Wilton Youth Council, Luthar said youth in affluent communities, where she often sees an overvaluation of achievement versus character and kindness, exhibit these problems at higher rates than national averages.

To help teens and their parents better deal with stress and other issues that can lead to substance abuse, the Wilton Youth Council will take a three-pronged educational approach in the community initiative. It will offer programs directed at young people to give them the skills needed for good decision making, programs directed at parents to help them communicate better with their children, and programs directed at community stakeholders who work with young people to help them foster healthy environments and spot mental health problems that can arise.

“The WWC Philanthropy committee is so impressed with the knowledge and passion of the Wilton Youth Council as they work to prevent substance abuse in our town,” said Mariann Bigelow, co-chair of the Philanthropy Committee.

The fashion show fund-raiser, which will feature spring looks from Lord and Taylor modeled by club members, lunch with cash bar, a silent auction with items from local businesses such as a European Seine River cruise from Tauck Tours, and a grand prize drawing from JetBlue. The fund-raiser is made possible in part by Mountainside Wilton Treatment and Recovery Program, Gregory and Adams, P.C., and media sponsor Good Morning Wilton.

For information and to purchase tickets, visit www.wiltonwomansclub.org.

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