Locals use grief to take action in fight against drugs

Local News

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — People in Altoona are using their grief to take action in the fight against drugs. While it may look like a support group, the woman who created it said she thinks of it as a group of action.

Marianne Sinisi lost her son, Shawn, to a drug overdose in September.

“I need something to do other than just sit around and be upset about my loss and my grief and how overwhelming it is,” she said.

She threw herself into advocacy work and started “Families United in Change.” 

“Maybe I can help change something for somebody else.”

The group discusses issues related to the war on drugs, including treatment centers, stigmas, and the over prescription of opioids.

“I don’t care whether you’re Republican, Democrat, or Independent. It’s time that we all work together to figure this out,” Sinisi said.

Meetings are held at Hope Community Church in Altoona on the second Tuesday night of the month. The church’s pastor, John Gray, said the group helps people heal through creating change.

“It gives us a purpose and it says, basically, we just can’t watch this continue to go by and do nothing about it,” he said.

A few group members will meet with local representatives Lou Schmitt and Jim Gregory on Friday to talk about things they want to see change locally, such as drug education and treatment options.

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