Name: Chuck Harris
Occupation: Porter County Coroner
Service: Porter County Substance Abuse Council member, current Porter County Community Action Drug Coalition Board of Directors, current Porter County Starke Services Board of Directors, current Avalon Springs Board of Directors
How he got involved in drug prevention and awareness: When I got into office, one of the things I had always mentioned during my campaign was that I was going to take a hard look at drug prevention education. I have been a coroner since 2004, and I took over as the Porter County coroner in 2011, and during that time we have had a scourge of heroin overdoses. I know it has been over 70in the past five years in heroin related deaths only. It is a very large concern for our community.
What he does: “Since I have been in office I have always tried to get out to the local area high schools and middle schools and present a program I created called Choices.”While it isn’t in the job description, Harris is passionate about educating youth. “The program is geared not only for drug abuse but also for making positive life choices in general. I am trying to give the kids a good understanding of what the consequences can be. They know all the good things that come from drugs and alcohol, the feeling good, increased confidence, but they don’t know the extent of the consequences. They don’t know all of the negative stuff they haven’t seen it. That’s what I bring to the table.”
Insights gained from volunteering: I love getting to interact with the kids. They surprise you all the time with their line of thinking. It is completely different than the way we think as adults. I will ask them, “How many people in this room would be able to buy heroin or prescription pills if they wanted to.” It is always amazing; almost every single hand in the room goes up. You ask the kids, “If you wanted to buy some pills right now, how fast would it be to get those to you.” I’ll get responses saying they could have them delivered to the school in 30 minutes or less, like it’s a pizza!
Advice to parents: A lot of parents just don’t take the time to talk to their kids about sex & drugs because it is uncomfortable. If you take the time to sit your kid down and say hey, if you ever feel uncomfortable in a situation, text me an X, text me a period, and I will get you out of there, no questions asked. I just want you home for another day.
Advice to others who might volunteer: The Porter County Substance Abuse Council has a lot of different ways that they can use volunteers. Whether it is somebody who has personal experience, maybe they lost a son or daughter, or it is somebody who has actually used drugs and went to a rehab facility and got clean, and they have a good story to help educate people, or whether it is just somebody who wants to just pitch in and help out at program events, there is some type of program for you in the Substance Abuse Council.