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Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. Many of our college students are already getting ready to begin college for the first time and/or returning back for another full semester.

As our college freshmen are preparing to leave for school for the first time, I am sure there is a lot of excitement about being away, being on one’s own, but also some anxiety on how to manage all of this freedom.

College is not high school where everyone was constantly reminding you of everything you needed to take care of. It is in college where you learn how to act as an independent and responsible adult. No one will chase after you regarding getting to class on time, coming home at a reasonable hour or handing in assignments when they are due.

Time management is in your hands. You will have to design a schedule that works for you. Balance is probably the most important concept that you must learn during your first semester.

It is very easy to get lost in all of the newfound freedom. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important and how to balance everything out. Balance is not just about your schoolwork and your school related activities; it also relates to your social life and your mental health.

Too many young people are still suffering from post -pandemic stress and anxiety; they have become overwhelmed by the simplest things that too often become overwhelming.

Communication even before the pandemic was weak; now it’s a disaster. Too many young people are obsessed with their technology and devices. They would rather text than talk; social media is their top priority over human relationships.

Interpersonal relationships have gotten lost by the wayside. Human connections for the right reasons are things of the past. We have to work harder at helping this year’s freshman class reclaim some very basic human dynamics.

Over the last three decades, I have watched firsthand this shift in my college classroom. My college students of just a few years back were not afraid to communicate. They valued human connections and were not driven by so much anxiety and depression.

However, what has not been lost in the shuffle is their generosity of spirit; their wanting to reach out to those in need and their commitment to volunteerism. Each freshman class continues to inspire me by their hearts of compassion and commitment. In the midst of all the chaos, they genuinely do care for others. I hope they don’t lose any of that caring concern during their next four years.

They are the hope for tomorrow; may we give them all the support they need to thrive and succeed.

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

These are polarizing times. The days of civil conversation around delicate issues are long gone. Social media is a blessing and a curse. As a graduate school educator, it is a blessing if you need to have evidenced-based research in an instant. It is a curse because so much of what is posted is opinion, at best masquerading like it is evidence-based research.

Critical thinking is a thing of the past. Too many people believe whatever they see online, especially if it supports their own position. What happened to the days of genuine give and take conversation? What happened to agreeing to respectfully disagree?

We are still reeling from the pandemic; especially our young people. Mental health and human relations have really been impaired.

No one was prepared for the pandemic’s aftermath. We are still not well equipped or trained to navigate into the future. This present generation of young people is profoundly wounded mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We are failing to prepare them to deal with the divisive world we have created and are living in. 

 Our schools are central to empowering the next generation to wellness and wholeness. Instead of always ripping at our schools and our teachers, we need to work harder at collaboration. We need to be committed to a holistic approach to learning — body, mind and spirit.

Our children should be exposed to evidence-based material in every subject area. We need to be more conscious of the impact, for better or for worse, of the smart phone. That little device can build people up or with the push of a button destroy someone.

At what age should children have a cell phone? What restrictions should be imposed? Should elementary and middle school students have cell phones in class? Should we create universal guidelines in this regard?

The other issue that needs to be addressed is how parents parent their small children with tablets to keep them busy. How and where do our children learn about human connections? How do they learn about their feelings and how to express them?

There has to be a partnership between parents, school and community. Together we need to foster positive human connections grounded in love, respect and radical inclusiveness which our nation is founded on. 

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Another graduation season is upon us. So many graduates at every level have achieved extraordinary goals. Beyond that they will definitely contribute to making our world a better and safer place to be.

Over the years, I have witnessed firsthand not only our local schools’ academic excellence, but their openness to community service by choice and not by obligation.

Port Jefferson, Comsewogue, Three Village, and Mount Sinai school districts have gone the distance and then some for our students at risk. My collaboration with these school districts in the early years of my work at Hope House has inspired me to stay the course and be a voice for the voiceless. Our mutual focus has always been on empowering students to be the best version of themselves.

Forty-three years ago on the grounds of an Anglican Franciscan monastery in Mount Sinai, Hope House Ministries was founded. We rented their small guesthouse for two years. It was primarily for runaway teenagers who had dropped out of school for a whole host of reasons. Thus began our partnership with the Port Jefferson school district.

Our mission has always been dedicated to reaching out to the most vulnerable and broken within our community. Six years ago we moved back to where it all began and thanks to this 100-year-old five acre monastery grounds, we have been able to expand our outreach to a growing number of young people battling the affliction of addiction and mental health issues.

Two years ago a high school dropout who is a documented immigrant was entrusted to our care at Hope Academy on the grounds of the old monastery in Mount Sinai. He enrolled into Mt Sinai High School. The school community welcomed him with open arms. They made his transition from dropping out of high school in the 10th grade and starting in a new school with no friends a seamless process.

Since beginning at Mount Sinai two years, this young man has played football and soccer. He has spoken in the middle school and in the high school about his journey of transformation. The collaborative spirit between the high school administration and the student body has transformed this young man’s life. Not only did he graduate, he graduated as an honor roll student.

Thanks to the generosity of so many in the Mount Sinai community, he was able to participate in all of the wonderful senior activities that the school provides. He went on the annual senior trip, the prom, and countless parties. One family was even kind enough to host a party just for him and the friends that he made at the high school

At the beginning of June, he completed his treatment program for addiction. Faculty members, a school administrator and countless students came to support their classmate and friend. It was an amazing night. It powerfully reminded me that hope lives on.

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Matt LoNigro

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in the early afternoon, a local icon died of a massive heart attack at the age of 51; his wife found him sitting in his office chair. A local EMS worker who lives down the street came running and tried to revive him. He had already passed; I arrived just after he was pronounced.

Matthew “Matt” LoNigro left his lovely wife Julia, a local tenured schoolteacher and two extraordinary children: Matthew Jr., 20, and Abigail, a 16-year-old student at Miller Place High School. Matt was very actively involved in the Miller Place school district as the dynamic director of the Miller Place Boys Lacrosse.

Lacrosse was one of his many passions. For many years, he was actively involved on the Board of Directors for Suffolk County PAL Lacrosse. During his early career, he was actively involved with Port Jefferson Sporting Goods, a family business. He was a salesman for school districts seeking sports equipment and sports uniforms. He was such a dynamic salesman; he probably could’ve sold the Pope the Brooklyn Bridge.

Matt spent most of his adult life doing for others. He was actively involved with Christmas Magic, Backpack Pirates and countless other activities that reached out to the disadvantaged in our larger community. If somebody was in trouble and needed good advice and/or a helping hand, Matthew was the go-to guy. He was a tremendous mentor for young athletes who wanted to be lacrosse players.

We have lost a powerful example of what community and reaching out to others is really supposed to be about. These are crazy times. We need more people with Matt’s passion and commitment to helping others, with the purpose of giving back. His heart and random acts of kindness were the hallmark of his life.

I first met Matt when he was in middle school. As most know, he was part of a very large loving family. It was his family that taught him how to love and to be of service to others. Like many young men in their 20s, Matt struggled. He spent time living with me at Hope House. Even during those struggling days battling conflict, he was a power of example for the men he lived with.

When Matt completed our program, he started giving back and has not stopped for more than 20 years. Before he passed, he would come by every week to encourage the men in our community; especially those who were struggling to stay the course. His power of example that life can be better and one can change inspired so many over the years to take the risk to embrace change and transformation. 

There was not a week since Matt lived with our community that I have not received a text or visit always making sure he ended both with “thank you for saving my life!” The world is a better place because Matt LoNigro walked among us. His power of example and his profound gratitude will live on to inspire so many others to embrace the process of change and transformation and to realize that they too can make the world a better place. 

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Photo by Mary Pahlke/Pixabay

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Every newspaper, every news channel, no matter what their politics are talking about the serious concerns around the mental health of the young people in our country.

The mental health of our youth is on the verge of becoming, if it has not already, a national health epidemic!

Social media is out of control. The pandemic has not helped this national crisis. Candidly, it has intensified it. So, what do we do? First, we need to destigmatize any kind of mental health and substance use disorders. We have to have the courage to act bravely to provide competent, cost-effective treatment services for mental health and addictive health.

Telehealth is a great resource but is already overbooked and is geared more to working with the middle/upper class. They have waiting lists that are endless. Private practice is overloaded as well. The clinics of yesteryear who are capable of reaching out to the underserved need to be resurrected and properly staffed.

Our local hospitals need additional funds to build on the excellent services that already exist but do not meet the epidemic need. Mental health must become a priority; too many young people are toying with suicide. Most don’t want to die they just want the pain and anguish to stop.

Too often that pain is intensified due to our social media platforms, which can be unbearable triggers for those who are already struggling with self-esteem and self-worth. We need to challenge our schools to be more effective in teaching better coping skills and also creating more safe places where students can go and talk without fear of judgment, shame, and guilt.

Most school districts should consider increasing their social work staff. If they don’t have any social workers on their staff, they should consider hiring competent social workers with plans to better serve our children who are at risk. We need more of a collaborative effort between mental health staff faculty, administrators and support staff. This kind of collaboration really does make a difference.

TJ was 16; he was shy to begin with. The pandemic made him even more self-conscious and shy. His only outlet was social media. When given the freedom to go out, he stayed in and spent his life on social media. He was a good student, a good young man at home. No one really knew how addicted he had become to social media. He had joined a growing number of invisible young people who are in so much pain and are so closed that they are falling between the cracks.

We need to stop talking and need to think outside the box. We need to demand funding that will allow us to create life-giving opportunities for all of our young people to build their self-worth, their self-confidence and their self-value so that they will know they really matter and can make a difference that counts!

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Melissa Arnold

Drug addiction can rob a person of everything they once held dear. Relationships with loved ones, a safe place to live and the ability to work can all become jeopardized or lost.

When you have nothing left, finding stability and sobriety can seem like an impossible task. But support and education can make all the difference.

For more than 40 years, Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson has offered a wide variety of services to those struggling with addiction or other hardships, from free counseling and support groups to residential programs and spiritual guidance.

Tucked on the quiet grounds of Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai is a modest bakery called Brother’s Bread, which provides sweet and savory treats to visitors and job skills for hard-working men in recovery.

The Little Portion Friary campus, now called Hope Academy, was purchased by Hope House in 2016 when the Franciscan brothers who lived there fell on hard times. Since then, the size of the program has doubled, and more than 60 young men live in the family-style residential facility. 

The acquisition was a full-circle moment for Hope House.

“The brothers helped out in local churches but also did a lot of baking. At the beginning of each weekend, people would be able to come in and see what was there and make a donation,” explained Father Francis Pizzarelli, director of Hope House Ministries, “When we acquired the friary, we wanted to maintain the bakery, and maintain that same spirit to honor and celebrate the brothers.”

But with the brothers gone, who would run the bakery? Pizzarelli saw it as an opportunity for the young men in addiction recovery at Hope Academy.  

With support and donations from the community, Brother’s Bread received a modern makeover, including new ovens. While Pizzarelli oversees the administrative side of things, daily operations are a work of “shared responsibility” for a small group of Hope Academy residents.

“It’s a source of income [for the Academy], but it’s also therapeutic. It gives these men a new set of skills, a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of giving back,” said Pizzarelli, who is also a social worker and addiction counselor. “I’m committed to the holistic approach of mind, body and spirit for recovery and the bakery feeds into that ideal nicely.”

Some of the residents arrive at Hope Academy with previous cooking or baking knowledge, but there are also opportunities for those who want to learn. Current bakers are always looking to share their skills with other residents, especially as the ultimate goal is graduation from the program. A few local retired bakers volunteer their time to teach as well.

The result is the tempting aroma of fresh bread heavy in the air each weekend. While the bakery is best known for their breads, especially cinnamon raisin and whole wheat, with time the menu has expanded to include other goodies. Brownies, scones, cookies and fruit pies are often available, along with seasonal favorites like Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day and cheese pizzas during Lent.

The Irish soda bread in particular has been the source of a lot of laughter at the bakery and among those who attend weekend Mass at the friary. 

Pizzarelli explained that one of the current bakers is from Ireland and was eager to share a bite of home with bakery patrons. People rave over it – well, most people. Pizzarelli has never been fond of Irish soda bread and is regularly teased for it. 

Another unique facet of Brother’s Bread is the focus on generosity. The bakery door is always open on the weekends, even if no one is there. Each item has a suggested price, and visitors are encouraged to pay what they can.

“We certainly appreciate all the support we get, and the profits help cover the cost of ingredients and food for the residential program,” Pizzarelli said. “But we also know that there are hungry people out there, so we run on the honor system.”  

As with all of Hope House’s programs, the bakery depends on the kindness of others. Financial gifts, volunteer support or donations of ingredients are always welcome. 

Pizzarelli never imagined 40 years ago that his ministry would unfold as it has, and while there are many difficulties, he continues to offer a place of welcome to as many as he can. “The friary and Hope Academy have been a source of strength for people that are carrying shame and stigma. People focus on the negative stories, and I am always reminded of the people that we’ve lost, but I also see miracles every day,” he said.

Brother’s Bread and Hope Academy at Little Portion Friary are located at 48 Old Post Road, Mount Sinai. New bakery items are available Fridays after 3 p.m. through Sundays. For more information, call 631-473-0553 or visit www.hhm.org.

Photo by David Ackerman

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Maybe it sounds like I’m tooting our horn too much, but I have to say how proud I am of the columnists who write for our papers and website. They are clearly bright and offer the reader information and knowledge that aren’t usually found even in a big metro daily or a glossy magazine. They are, collectively and individually, one of the main reasons our hometown newspapers have managed to survive while so many of our colleagues, 25% of them in the nation, have had to shut their doors.

Readers want to learn from our regular columnists, who, by the way, are local residents. That’s not surprising, though, because the population we serve is exceptional, accomplished in their own right, and can be expected to harbor such talent. Let me explain.

The columnists are found in the second section of the newspaper, called Arts & Lifestyles. In the interest of full disclosure and without false modesty, I point out and salute my youngest son, Dr. David Dunaief. He is a physician totally committed to helping his patients, and the high regard is returned by them in equal measure, as testimonials about him confirm. In addition, he writes every week about current medical problems and brings readers up to date with the latest research and thinking regarding common ailments. I know him to be a voracious reader of medical journals and he footnotes his sources of expertise at the end of every “Medical Compass” column. 

Dr. Matthew Kearns is a longtime popular veterinarian who writes “Ask the Vet,” keeping our beloved pets healthy. Michael E. Russell is a successful, retired financial professional who cannot cut the cord with Wall Street, and  shares his thoughts on the economy and suggesting current buys on the stock market. He will also throw in something irreverent, or even askance, to keep you tuned in. 

Also writing knowledgeably on the contemporary scene about finance and the economy is Michael Christodoulou, who is also an active financial advisor. Ever try to read your auto insurance policies? If I had trouble falling asleep, they would knock me out by the second paragraph. Enter A. Craig Purcell, a partner in a long-established local law firm, who is attempting to explain auto insurance coverage, a merciful endeavor, with his column. His words do not put me to sleep. Shannon Malone will alternate the writing for us. Michael Ardolino, a well-known realtor, somehow manages to make both ends of a real estate transaction, for buyers and sellers, sound promising at this time. 

Our lead movie and book reviewer is the highly talented Jeffrey Sanzel. In addition to being a terrific actor, he is a gifted writer and almost always feels the same way about what he is reviewing as I do. No wonder I think he is brilliant.  Father Frank has been writing for the papers for many years and always with great integrity and compassion. 

John Turner, famous naturalist and noted author and lecturer, keeps us apprised of challenges to nature. This is a niche for all residents near the shorelines of Long Island. He also writes “Living Lightly,” about being a responsible earth dweller. Bob Lipinski is the wine connoisseur who travels the world and keeps us aware of best wines and cheeses.

Lisa Scott and Nancy Marr of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters, keep us informed about upcoming elections, new laws and important propositions. Elder law attorney Nancy Burner tells us about Medicare, estate planning, wills gifting, trustees, trusts and other critical issues as we age.

The last columnist I will mention is Daniel Dunaief, who, like bookends for my salute, is also my son. Among several other articles, he writes “The Power of Three,” explaining some of the research that is performed at Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Labs and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He makes a deep dive into the science in such a way that layman readers can understand what is happening in the labs. He has been paid the ultimate compliment by the scientists for a journalist: they pick up the phone and willingly talk to him, unafraid that he will get the story wrong or misquote them. In fact, he has been told a rewarding number of times by the researchers that his questions for the articles have helped them further direct their work.

When my sons began writing for TBR News Media, a few readers accused me of nepotism. I haven’t heard that charge now in years.

P.S. Of course, we can’t forget Beverly C. Tyler and Kenneth Brady, stellar historians both.

Photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The holiday season is quickly coming to a close. The Village of Port Jefferson and our larger community are especially beautiful with lights, wreaths and a wide range of holiday decorations. I also feel there is a different energy in the air. There seems to be a more positive spirit this year than in the years past. I actually saw people who didn’t know each other greeting one another and holding the door as they walked into a store. It was really amazing.

There is a part of me that wants to bottle that positive energy and release it when things start to inch back towards the darkness. However, I realize each one of us has the power to keep that positive energy going one person at a time utilizing random acts of kindness and just mutual words of encouragement and welcome.

The world is profoundly paralyzed. Our government and other governments around the world have become disturbingly ineffective and disconnected from the real pulse of the people. No matter what one’s race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status, most people just want to get along; to live with mutual respect with one another.

At the end of the last semester at St. Joseph’s University where I have taught for more decades than I want to admit, I asked one of my freshmen that exact question. He paused for a moment and said, “we have to stop judging people by externals, stop judging a book by its cover. We must be more willing to pull the onion skin down to the core.”

His response was amazing. It sounds so simple but in reality, we make it so complicated. If we could only judge less and love more, how much better the world would be. Hopefully, the next generation will have the courage to do exactly that and not get sucked up into all the garbage and nonsense.

For more than a decade now, I’ve had the privilege of teaching graduate student social workers at Fordham’s graduate school of Social Service. I teach clinical practice and a human rights and social justice course. Most of my students are second year, chomping at the bit to graduate. Every week they inspire me to stay my course and strengthen my love for clinical social work and advocacy. Their passion for wanting to make a difference is inspirational. I pray that their positive energy and enthusiasm is not impaired by the crazy world that we live in.

 We need them because they really believe that change is possible. They really want to make a difference in the world and make it a better place. I hope their energy and enthusiasm becomes contagious. It genuinely has energized me to stay the course and to continue “to be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mohandas Gandhi

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The holiday season is in full bloom. Our beautiful villages with Christmas lights and wreaths reminds us what this time of year is supposed to be about. We celebrate the holiday season across a landscape that is polarized and profoundly divisive. 

Our recent midterm elections have made the powerful statement that Americans are tired of hearing about election steal lies. They are tired of conspiracy theories and rhetoric that is blatantly false and disgraceful.

The midterm elections have made a powerful statement that democracy is more powerful than autocracy; that we as a nation want to move forward and find new ways to collaborate with each other for the sake of all Americans.

As you prepare to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, I hope our faith leaders have the courage to stand up and speak for truth, for social justice and respect for all people no matter what their race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic class.

Our silence, when it comes to serious life issues that impact all of us, is a statement of complicity. Shame on those of us who hold positions of religious leadership and remain silent. Shame on those who hold positions of religious leadership and fuel the hate and polarization that is paralyzing our nation.

However, despite this chaotic landscape I continue to remain exceptionally hopeful because I am blessed to see miracles and human transformation every day. 

Every morning when I get up, I look out at our garden of remembrance. There are more than 120 crosses representing all the innocent lives that have been lost to overdose and addiction since the pandemic. They are from our community. They have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters that live among us. I know these days are hard for their families. We must never forget but always remember their gift of life.

Human kindness continues to live on in our midst. Hopefully during this holiday season, it will become contagious. Recently a retired schoolteacher told me a powerful story. She was on line at Taco Bell in her car and her eyes met the eyes of a man in a red truck in front of her. It was just a momentary glance. When she got to the window to pay, the cashier told her there was no charge. The man in the red truck had covered her meal. Needless to say, she was overwhelmed. 

The cashier gave her a note which I have permission to share with you: “To the person behind me in line, please accept this small act of kindness today as a reminder that all of us have bad days, but not all of us were fortunate enough to wake up this morning and have a day at all. No matter how hard it gets, keep going! You are stronger than your most difficult hour, and there are so many people supporting you even if you haven’t met them yet. Peace, love, tacos — a random stranger.”

As we celebrate the holiday season this year, let us reach out with random kindness to the strangers in our midst that could become our friends!

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Have you ever stopped in the middle of Penn Station amongst the noise and human activity and just think?

Recently, I did exactly that. It was rush hour. I had just finished teaching at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Graduate School of Social Services. I took the one train to Penn Station. There was pandemonium like I have not seen since pre-pandemic days.

This was a different kind of energy. It was opening night for the New York Rangers. People’s excitement was contagious. I almost wished that I had a ticket so that I could go to the hockey game even though I hate hockey. 

In the midst of all of the noise and excitement, I stopped, took a breath and looked around. My eyes caught sight of a little girl with a Rangers jersey on that was bigger than her; she was on fire. I waved and caught her eye; she waved back with a big smile. As I was waiting for my train back to Ronkonkoma. I couldn’t help but think of her innocence, of her positive energy, of her genuine openness and that one day that beautiful little smile and abundant energy could be severely impaired because of the world we live in.

Soon enough she will move from the innocence of childhood into the chaos of adolescence and young adulthood. The world is a very negative place right now for the next generation to be nurtured in. We need to protect them from the garbage and hypocrisy that is everywhere. We need to attempt to change all of that negativity and make the world a place that is welcoming and inclusive, even if we disagree!

We need to work harder at building bigger bridges rather than stronger walls. We need to create a language grounded in respect and love for everyone, even when it’s hard, challenging and demanding.

No little girl should ever have her innocence and joy threatened or impaired because the world is filled with narcissism and selfishness.

Every day I see pain and suffering in the eyes of the mentally ill and the drug addicts that I live and work with; but I also see hope and potential for change and transformation. I see miracles every day which make me believe we can make the world better; make it more loving and caring for all the little ones who live in our midst.

Mental health is a major concern that is rapidly disarming and paralyzing a growing number of young people of every age and walk of life. We don’t have enough licensed mental health professionals that can cost-effectively meet the epidemic need before us. We must collaborate now to erase the stigma that painfully exists around mental health treatment. We must demand accountability from all our insurance providers who tend to play games with our mental health and access to comprehensive mental health treatment.

The government needs to stop talking the talk and begin walking the walk. Our faith leaders need to have the guts to stand up, be counted and lead us in the fight for protecting all life that is scarred by mental health disorders. This cannot wait for tomorrow.

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.