People United to Stop Heroin on Long Island (PUSH-LI)

People United to Stop Heroin on Long Island (PUSH-LI) started as a fledgling Facebook group with just a few members, and has now grown to more than 7,900 members, some of whom met in person for the first time in April to kick-off an historic grassroots effort to strengthen Long Island’s addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery system. The group is facilitated by LICADD and led by parents who have lost their children, parents of addicted kids and young people in recovery. In May 2010, we finalized our mission statement which is as follows:

People United to Stop Heroin on Long Island (PUSH-LI) is a bi-county group of concerned parents, young people, and community advocates who in the midst of an unprecedented teen heroin crisis, are advocating for a comprehensive continuum of substance abuse prevention, harm reduction services (including overdose and disease prevention), addiction treatment services, and recovery support for Long Island’s young people.


Among our founding members are the following:

Valerie Ambrosino

“I joined PUSH-LI because I am the mother of two AMAZING people who are recovering heroin addicts.  I know first-hand the devastation addiction causes the addict, their family, their friends AND I WANT TO BE A PART OF A SOLUTION TO THIS HEROIN EPIDEMIC/DISASTER.  We need to UNITE if we have any chance of battling this horror.  I hope that our group will increase in size and people will realize the need to protect our children.  There is great power in unity!  I have GREAT FAITH we WILL make a difference!”

Noreen Lynch

“As a parent of a 19-year-old recovering addict, I felt I needed to reach out and try to help in any which way I can.  Unfortunately, I know longer live in the Long Island area and unable to attend the meetings and events, but I felt the least I can do is reach out and be there for all the families who need continued support and prayers, and PUSH was the place to do it.  I’m so thankful for Dr. Reynolds and his amazing team.  If it weren’t for them, I don’t know where my child would be right now. And if it weren’t for all the members great concern, support and prayers, I don’t know how I would make it through each day. Thank you all again, and again.”

Anna Pancaldo

“Addiction is a dark and lonely journey that brings families to their breaking points (both financially and emotionally), but even through this test of wills the bottom line is that no parent wants to bury their child and this is why they fight so hard to “cure” them.  My commitment to this cause is to push for parental/family support, the addict gets treatment for their illness – the families are left in a cloud of devastation, self-blame, guilt and shame … they need treatment and support just as much as the addict does.  I am willing to make others aware of my own family crisis and to offer my hand to support other families as they dust themselves off and start the long and healing walk on the road to recovery.”

Lana Plinto

“I am a mother of a 19 year old heroin addict. I am dedicated to helping our children kick this deadly disease and am equally dedicated to change the roadblocks that all of our families have hit while doing so.”

Anne Smith

“My son is Kevin is going to be 21 yrs old on June 14th, and he has been addicted to heroin for the last 4 yrs at least. It’s been a complete nightmare, and I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I raised 4 kids alone, with none to very little help from their fathers. Kevin is the youngest of the 4; my 3 older kids are grown adults, who graduated from college, and are leading very productive happy lives. Kevin decided in January to stop doing heroin; he had been in and out of rehabs for years. Nothing works unless they really want to stop. I’ve been through the mill with my son. I am really proud of him now that he has decided to stop. He would have surely have died had he not stopped when he did. Now he is being even more proactive and wants to attend all of LICADD’s PUSH meetings. It’s really a day-by-day thing, but I honestly never seen him this different in years, so I  think this time it will work for him. I pray every day he will not want to go back to  his old ways but he reassures me everyday that he will never go back to drugs. I totally support my son and want to do everything I can to help other parents keep their kids safe.”

Debbie Billotto

“I have been a security guard for the past 12 years at the high school from which I graduated. I have lived in this same community for over 33 years. I am seeing first hand the devastating effects heroin is having on my community. Too many lives ruined, too many good kids and even older people are being pulled into this epidemic. One of my goals is to see changes made with our insurance companies. People should be able to get the help they need. It should be easier for parents to get their child into successful programs. Another important goal is to educate the young children in an attempt to interrupt this vicious cycle.  I want my community back. I want our kids to be healthy and thrive. Most of all, I want our kids to live.”

PUSH is supported by a grant from the Long Island Community Foundation.