I was delighted to be invited to a wonderful evening with South Boston's community leaders and neighbors in the Laboure Center this past Tuesday, April 23rd. The topic was "A Celebration of Hope and Healing for families affected by substance abuse". We watched a powerful video and had a wonderful, hopeful discussion about how the vulnerable children and families of South Boston need a voice now more than ever before. According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, approximately 1 in 4 children in the US are exposed to family alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. Alcohol Action Ireland estimates 1 in 11 children are being negatively affected by parental/caregiver alcohol problems in Ireland. Research (and our work here in Boston) clearly illustrates that there are biological, psychological, behavioral, and social consequences of alcohol and drug exposure. Children exposed to addiction of any kind are at risk of adverse developmental, social, and health outcomes.

Despite this challenging and often taboo topic, Maureen McGlame (COASA) lead our discussion in a warm, healing way and offered plenty of hope. The room was filled with parents, grandparents, spouses and siblings who have all seen the devastation that addiction has wrought in their families. I left this wonderful meeting last night full of hope - and really would love to invite all our Irish and Irish American readers to join us for the next meeting of this supportive group on Tuesday, May 7th at the Laboure Center in South Boston, 275 West Broadway.

The next video and discussion will focus on how to identify and respond in a helpful way if there are children in your life being impacted by substance abuse. I will be there and available to chat afterwards if you have any lingering questions. A special thank you to Sr. Mary Edel (Laboure), Fr. Joe (St. Vincent's Parish), Joan Lynch (Maria Droste Services) and of course, Maureen McGlame (COASA) for our warm welcome! The pizza was delicious! Please join us May 7th and share the hope of recovery!