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Fox 25 News Report on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren with Vicky Ruvido


The opioid epidemic could have left them orphans. Instead, more than 12,000 children, abandoned by addicted parents in Massachusetts, are being raised in loving homes.

Grandparents raising their grandchildren are saving the state millions and keeping those kids out of foster care.

They do it out of love.

But Boston 25 News anchor Vanessa Welch discovered when she traveled the state talking to these families, it’s not easy – and they could use the state’s help.

Watch Fox25 News Clip

Grandparent’s Corner – Welcome Letter from Vicky

Hello everyone and welcome to The Grandparents Corner.  On this forum, we hope to connect grandparents raising grandchildren by sharing our personal experiences.  It’s a place to share what worked, and what didn’t work for us.  But most of all, it’s a place that reminds us that we are not in this alone.  Here’s a bit of my story:

My name is Vicky and I have had guardianship of my granddaughter since the day after she was born in 2013.  Because of my child’s substance use disorder and with only a few days to prepare, at the age of 55, I became a mother again.  Dealing with social workers, hospital staff, court dates, DCF visits, my employer, and learning what my grandchild was entitled to was daunting.  It took me a year and a half to get a daycare voucher, and then came the exasperating task of finding a daycare that accepted the vouchers.

But it wasn’t all panic.  Every morning when my granddaughter wakes, she looks at me with her big, blue, smiling eyes and everything is okay.  She is my joy and my hope for the future, and I’d like to share that with all of you.

We need a place to vent.  For some of us, our lives changed overnight as we took our grandchild/ren in after a traumatic incident, usually involving substance use and/or mental health disorders affecting our own children.  The vision of our retirement years drastically changed or disappeared completely.  We’re left wondering what services are available to support us in our new role?  What services are available for our grandchild/ren?

Nationwide, grandparents are raising 2.6 million grandchildren.  We are a large, diverse group of people.  Legislatively we have a loud, strong voice.  AARP, here we come!

We also worry about our own children who are so deep into their disease that they have lost their children.  That fact alone is staggering for us to deal with.  We need to stay healthy and strong to help our own kids when they are ready to seek treatment.

So here we are.  We have our grandkids who are traumatized, we grandparents are traumatized, and we have questions that we can’t find answers to.  Do we let the “system” in?  What state agencies do we even contact?   Would a lawyer help?  Can we even afford a lawyer?  Let’s start this journey and together find the answers to our questions.

Please register for our online forum at  There you will find the Grandparents Corner.

Please remember:  There is hope.  You are not alone.

Senior Southeast Regional Manager

The Opioid Crisis: Strategies for Treatment and Recovery

Prescription drug and opioid abuse is devastating New England. News outlets continuously report on overdoses, broken families, and straining healthcare systems. Yet stakeholders of all types are finding ways to work together to heal communities, promote recovery, and address stigma. Despite the many tragedies, real change is happening, lives are transforming, and helping professionals are making a difference. Join leading researchers and clinical experts tackling this crisis–and be part of the solution–at the third annual Summit for Clinical Excellence in New England.
Join Us in New England, November 2-3, 2017:
  • Intermediate to Advanced Clinical Training for Mental and Behavioral Health Professionals
  • Earn up to 16.0 CEs,Includes the Ethics Dinner Session, 3 CEs, (Additional Registration Fee)

Register Here

Attorney General Maura Healey’s Announcement

The opioid epidemic has reached just about every community in Massachusetts and across this country. Last year alone, we lost 2,000 residents to overdoses. These are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, neighbors and friends. Today, we are announcing one of the largest public investigations in our history. Together with 38 other attorneys general we are expanding our offices’ investigations into branded opioid manufacturers and distributors to determine if their sales and marketing practices contributed to this crisis.

Posted by Attorney General Maura Healey on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

“The opioid epidemic has reached just about every community in Massachusetts and across this country. Last year alone, we lost 2,000 residents to overdoses. These are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, neighbors and friends. Today, we are announcing one of the largest public investigations in our history. Together with 38 other attorneys general we are expanding our offices’ investigations into branded opioid manufacturers and distributors to determine if their sales and marketing practices contributed to this crisis.” Attorney General Maura Healey (September 20, 2017)


Charity Girls of Northeast Massachusetts Distributes $15,000 to Community Organizations

Charity Girls of Northeast Massachusetts Distributes $15,000 to Community Organizations



Jude Martino                                                                            Martha Muldoon                                               

Charity Girls of Northeast Massachusetts Distributes $15,000 to Community Organizations

Local women’s philanthropy group has distributed over $100,000 in its seven years to twenty-eight different non-profit charitable organizations North of Boston.

NORTHEAST, Mass., December, 2016 – The Charity Girls of Northeast Massachusetts, an innovative philanthropic group of women from the greater North Shore and Merrimack Valley, met recently to distribute the collective $15,000 raised during the past year. A representative of each of the five deserving North of Boston charitable organizations received a check at a celebratory dinner on December 1st in Georgetown.

“Charity Girls of Northeast, Massachusetts is extremely pleased to be able to distribute grants that will enhance the programs of several organizations North of Boston. Participating in this group provides a tangible opportunity to positively impact our communities,” said Jude Martino, Founder, Charity Girls of Northeast Massachusetts.

2016 Non-profit organization recipients: 

  1. 1st Derek Hines Soldiers Assistance Fund, Newburyport

The 1st Lieutenant Derek Hines Soldiers Assistance fund provides financial assistance for Massachusetts’s soldiers, and their families, who have incurred serious, career ending, and life altering injuries while on active duty. Members of the Board serve on a volunteer basis, receiving no salary, compensation, or expenses. All funds raised are given directly to those in need.

  1. Mission of Deeds, Reading

Mission of Deeds is a non-profit group of full-time volunteers dedicated to helping the homeless and needy families of Middlesex and Essex Counties since 1993. The Mission of Deeds purchases beds with cash donations and distributes them, along with donated furniture and other household items in good condition, to needy families and individuals living in Middlesex and Essex counties of Massachusetts.

  1. Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, Lynn

The mission of the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts is to promote and secure equal justice and to maximize opportunity for low-income children and youth by providing quality advocacy and legal services. CLCM is a Legal Aid Firm serving Merrimack Valley and Essex County and is the only agency that is focused on children in the state – others focus on adults or whole families.

  1. It’s My Party, Topsfield website in development

It’s My Party organizes and provides birthday parties, holiday parties and other special events for homeless and displaced children ages 0-12. It’s My Party plans, organizes and hosts parties throughout the year and purchases gifts, decorations, and whatever items are necessary to offer a day to remember for the children living at the Elizabeth Seton House in Lynn, MA whose parents and/or guardians cannot care for them due to drug addiction, incarceration, absenteeism, or other barriers.

  1. Learn to Cope, Taunton (Salem, Gloucester)

Learn to Cope is a non-profit support network that offers education, resources, peer support and hope for parents and family members coping with a loved one addicted to opiates or other drugs. Founded by Joanne Peterson in 2004, the organization has grown to include over 7000 members and 22 chapters throughout the state of Massachusetts and has become a nationally recognized model for peer support and prevention programming. Learn to Cope became the first parent network in the country to provide the overdose-reversal medication naloxone to family members at Learn to Cope meetings. 

The Charity Girls of Northeast Massachusetts is an innovative philanthropic group of two dozen women from the greater North Shore and Merrimack Valley. Started by Jude Martino as a creative way to support nonprofit organizations in her community, and imitating a similar group in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Charity Girls is modeled after a traditional giving circle that allows members to collectively raise money, decide on the use of those funds, and make donations to charities of their choice.

In return for a year-long commitment and a monthly donation, each member enjoys a tax-deductible dinner with friends and the ability to be a philanthropist in her community. Members team up to host one dinner per year in their homes, and invite a local charity to present to the group. Annually, the Charity Girls vote to grant a portion of their combined funds to causes of their choice.

The Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) collects the pooled donations and manages the fund affording the group the benefits of non-profit status without the administrative tasks involved. The Charity Girls NEMA Fund was established at ECCF in October 2009, and the first dinner was held in November of that year.

By the end of 2016, its seventh year, Charity Girls has raised and distributed a total of $106,500 to twenty-eight different non-profit charitable organizations.

Charity Girls (Northeast Massachusetts) Members 2016

Amesbury, Tatiana Burgos Espinal; Boxford, Pauline Allyn, AJ Aubrey, Trish Callahan, Jeanne Chapman, Diana Dusel, Gina Dussi, Sue Fowler, Nancy Tagerman, Susan Thibodeau; Georgetown, Evie Marquis; Hampton, NH; Marie Zappala-Stewart; Newbury, Jude Martino, Francee Quinlan; Newburyport, Carolyn Davis, Marlys Edwards, Ellen Jameson, Gretchen Maguire, Martha Muldoon, Jane Tuohy; North Andover, Jane Bennett, Joyce Crum, Judy Gross; North Reading, Susan Ivester; Peabody, Joy Toro; Westford, Sue Todd


Governor Baker Signs Step Act Bill

Today was an emotional day at the state house. Nancy McDonald Holler and I stood together as we have for many years and watched Governor Baker sign the step act bill which will most certainly make a difference in this epidemic! Janis Coulson McGrory spoke in honor of her beautiful Liz who passed 5 years ago. Nancy and I stood there and talked of all the years of our advocating, over 12 years and FINALLY this day has come. So many more speaking today and sadly this epidemic is worse than ever but today was HOPE. There is much more to be done, and things must be implemented and put in place but today was a huge step, a ray of hope that maybe we will finally see a light and an end to this tunnel of madness.

Joanne Peterson (via facebook)

The links below are to copies of the Bill and related documents:






10 Year Anniversary

On behalf of myself and all of Learn to Cope, THANK YOU to all those who attended our fundraiser at Florian Hall in Dorchester on Thursday evening November 13th or those who sent donations or raffle items in their absence.

It was a night full of hope, strength and friendship. We look forward to continuing to spread Support, Education, Resources and Hope to communities in Massachusetts.

This epidemic is worse than we have seen in the last ten years since we started our first group, the one positive now is there are so many out there helping others and I am proud to know so many good people who give back on a daily basis.

We promise to continue our work and please don’t hesitate to call our office at 508-738-5148.

Joanne Peterson
Executive Director
Learn to Cope







Join us as we unify with ONE VOICE to raise awareness and end the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths that is sweeping our country. Together we can be heard and get action for change across the nation. The FDA heard our pleas and recommended the rescheduling of hydrocodone combination products shortly after our rally in 2013, only to approve an even more dangerous drug, Zohydro, the very next day! Are you kidding? We can’t stop now because that is what they want! This is precisely why we are fired up and ready to march on. Join us as we rally our troops of bereaved parents, friends, family and policymakers, straight to the White House. This is the best way to honor our lost loved ones and to prevent overdose deaths for our future.

The FED UP! Coalition is a grass roots movement, comprised of passionate individuals and organizations advocating for an end to the epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths attributed to opioids (including heroin) and other prescription drugs. Join the growing number of individuals and organizations that are mobilizing and marching to the White House this year, determined to get results.

The first FED UP! Rally was held in Upper Senate Park in Washington, D.C. on October 1, 2013.  It was a huge success … drawing 600 plus people and attracting many well-known medical experts and members of Congress as speakers. This year we are coming back stronger than ever!

This Rally is a call for immediate, coordinated and comprehensive federal action to end the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths.  This epidemic has had a catastrophic impact on families and communities, and it has placed tremendous strain on our health care system, businesses, and local and state governments.

Addiction and overdose deaths due to narcotic painkillers and heroin (the class of drugs known as opioids) are one of the nation’s most urgent public health problems.

FED UP! Rally is grateful to its many generous sponsors without whom FED UP! Rally would not have been possible.

Please contact us if you would like to join our coalition of organizations from across the country who are FED UP and working together to end the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths.


For videos of FED UP! Rally, please click here.

View Our Platform FED UP! Organizers, Sponsors and Supporters

GRASP (Grief Recovery After Substance Passing)

A new chapter of GRASP begins this Thursday evening November 14th in East Bridgewater Massachusetts. Please share with anyone that has lost a friend or a loved one who passed from Overdose or an Addiction related illness………..

hover your cursor over the flyer below


A Mom’s view on FDA approving Zohydro. This epidemic is about to get worse as far as we are concerned

A long time ago, my brother said to me “Remember, “John Smith”? He just got arrested for robbing a pharmacy”. Now I knew “John Smith” to be a working man, who came from a small town, with a family.. a good man and wondered about this drug OxyContin he went looking for, that would make him do something like this.

After that, I would take notice on TV how many times  a pharmacy got robbed and wonder what this drug was that could make good people become so sick that they would do something like this but I was busy with my young family and I would put it in the back of my mind.

Until it came to my door.

When my college student daughter told us she was addicted to heroin and the sickness entered my life and the life of my family, I came to find out what a pill taken at high school graduation could do to change the life we had planned for her.

And I began to wonder what medication meant for the end of life was doing in the hands of 18 year olds that would eventually lead them to heroin. Lead them to throw all their dreams away, drag their family through the nightmare, and for some of her friends, end their life too young.

Today the FDA approved a new opiate drug Zohydro, a drug more powerful than OxyContin.

Just like the victims of gun violence who confront government with their dead children, we can’t seem to sway the people who are supposed to protect us to stop the endless stream of drugs that should remain in hospice from being placed in the hands of our kids, where they become something less then human and in the eyes of some. The death of  an 18 year old this past week in our group doesn’t seem to make anyone with any power in our country sick to their stomach. The world is a poorer place without that young man and all of the promise that goes with him.  I can’t imagine a world without my daughter. Money and greed are gods at the FDA, who are the gardians of medication for the American public.

Its a sad day today.

I look at little kids on my street and wonder which one or ones will be taken away in the future, by a bad decision. And I am sorry to welcome parents that join today,  our group no one wants to belong to…Learn To Cope, where we find hope together down the long road ahead of them, now made just that much harder by Zohydro. We don’t need another opiate medication.

How long must this go on?

Living daily with a loved one who suffers from addiction

It can be compared to walking on a mine field. When we are able to motivate someone to treatment we get a break. We can sleep again, eat again, smile again carefully stepping over the mines in the hopes we don’t step on one that blows us and our family apart again.

The anxiety hightens when they say they are “cured” and ready to come home, go back to work, be who they once were.
We never know when that magical day will come, when or if  they get that one year chip, we hang on every word of those who have achieved this and we pray inside that this, will one day be our son or daughter up there celebrating. We ask ourselves “WHY CAN’T THAT BE MY KID”

Then we may hear that young person fell back to the abyss…….the dreaded word…….”RELAPSE”

Relapse can happen over and over BUT there is still HOPE. It’s the uncertainty that’s a killer.

When our loved one relapses, the family falls with them. The siblings suffer terribly. To be a sibling it’s a double edged sword. They are losing their brother or sister AND they are losing their parents.

A parent can be physically sitting somewhere to watch a beloved child play football or soccer, but their mind is somewhere else thinking of the “lost one”. Will the call come today that there has been an overdose? Will they leave treatment and hit the streets? Parents start to wonder about the funeral.

Grief, this is grief. For the entire family.

Then something might click, that son or daughter may hear the magical word somewhere to encourage them to try again and recovery begins to be in their sight.

You don’t have to live this alone, this is more common than the average person thinks. We have a big problem in this country and it’s Opiates.

Until the beast behind this madness is slowed, it will just continue to sit on top of us plucking out one life at a time and destroying families.

How can we get stronger? PEER SUPPORT, there is nothing more assuring than a hand sitting on your shoulder and a welcoming smile from someone that can tell you “I have been there” “there is hope” “you are not alone”

that is Learn to Cope, when we get the strength from eachother, we survive. No matter where our loved ones addiction takes them, we will survive and we will be there for eachother………

I am grateful for all my kids health today.

We know many who have found recovery and live good productive lives today and yes sadly we know many who have lost their child.

Just know, no matter what we will survive, we have to. Our other siblings need us, the world needs us.

So for “today” take care of you, and thank you for taking care of me…….

Joanne Peterson


Thank you for all the emails and feedback regarding the Katie Couric show

It’s always great to hear from people from around the country and their experiences with this Opiate epidemic. I want to let everyone know that we are aware that treatment and recovery can be obtained many different ways. That YES there is Hope and that YES the 12 steps work for many and you don’t have to go to a  high end and expensive treatment center. Addiction is a life long affliction. A person has to work hard to stay clean and sober forever. Like any disease a person needs to learn how to manage it. We know at Learn to Cope that it’s not all over after detox and Rehab, it takes a life time of work.  I am happy for Zach and for his family. Zach has struggled for a long time and has been to many different programs. I am glad he got this opportunity, any chance is a good chance.

Our families loved ones have found recovery with many different paths, the thing we need to remember is it’s THEIR journey, not ours and all we can do is arm ourselves with education to help motivate. We get many different opinions on many different paths to recovery. We like to educate ourselves on all of them. This allows us to be helpful and resourceful at meetings to help others.

We are hoping this will be the catalyst for Zach to embrace recovery. At Learn to Cope we help families motivate their loved ones to treatment, to not enable the disease and to get educated on the disease.

We deal with many state funded treatment programs here in Massachusetts. It does NOT have to cost thousands and thousands of dollars. MANY MANY MANY people have found recovery in detox and a half way house program following it that doesn’t break the bank.

It’s tough to get all this information out in a show that lasts an hour. We took the opportunity to go and get what we could out there as far as awareness when Katies producer called us.

I am so proud of the 40 parents who took the trip to New York and were brave enough to stand on the stage at the show and not worry about the stigma by showing their faces. YES WE ARE GOOD PARENTS WHO LOVE OUR CHILDREN AND OUR FAMILIES! This is an epidemic that is affecting families across the nation.

Thank you Katie Couric for highlighting this horrific situation. We hope there will be more.

Learn to Cope and the Katie Couric show

Tune in on Monday June 10th to the Katie Couric show. A LTC family is interviewed, a mom and her son.

The Opiate epidemic in the country is taking more lives that car accidents. Countless people are becoming addicted. Even those who are prescribed these powerful drugs.

Tune in today, check Katies website for times and listings in your area, or search you tube after the 10th. Her shows are on you tube after they air


On behalf of myself and from all the families of Learn to Cope we would like to extend our heartfelt thank you to the Mullen family who lost their precious son James this past summer. We would also like to thank a wonderful woman Maggie Moriarty who along with the Mullen’s put together an amazing event in Jimmy’s memory.

Maggie and the Mullen family held a 13 K race and then a great get together afterward where Jeff Allison (former MLB Player) spoke to the crowd.

All proceeds from this event were donated to our organization. We here at LTC are honored. LTC promises to continue to offer support around the state, over the phone, through email and on the website Nationally to families in need of resources and insight. Stay tuned, we are working on some ideas on how the funds from this event will help a young man and a young woman get the treatment they want and need…………..

God bless the Mullens and Maggie and her team of runners……………………………….