This week I’m happy to share my first “surprise” Meet a Mom. Why is it a surprise? Our mom (and grandma) Dorrie Carolan does not know we’ll be sharing all of the great work she does in our community, including an upcoming golf fundraiser in support of her organization Newtown Parent Connection. Many thanks to her son Kevin Carolan and Lauryn D’Agostino of CT Social Scene for their help in putting this together.
Dorrie Carolan and her husband raised their four children in Newtown, CT. Starting Newtown Parent Connection was never part of her plan. The issue of substance abuse became personal when her eldest son, Brian, became addicted and subsequently died at age 28 of a prescription drug overdose. Through the struggles caused by Brian’s addiction, Dorrie became aware that this was an issue that affected many others in the community. She founded Newtown Parent Connection in 1993 in an attempt to network with other concerned Newtown parents. It was the impetus behind many policy changes in town and within the schools.
Kevin, Lauryn, thank you so much for taking the time to chat.
Can you please tell us where your Dorrie is originally from and how long she has lived in town?
Dorrie was born in New Rochelle, New York but eventually moved to Connecticut where she lived and raised her family in Newtown for 30 years. She now resides in Brookfield, CT.
Can you share about the organization’s mission and the current programs you offer?
Newtown Parent Connection runs educational programs in the Newtown and Fairfield School Systems. Before Covid came upon us, Newtown Parent Connection was scheduled to have Vaping programs in the New Fairfield and Fairfield School systems. Newtown Parent Connection has had guest speakers talk to the physicians at both Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals on protocols for prescribing opioids. The hospital loved the program and hired our speaker Jodi Switalski to put procedures in place for both hospitals. We were scheduled to have this presentation at St. Vincent’s Hospital on March 19th but had to cancel due to Covid.
Newtown Parent Connection will turn 30 shortly and I know the organization has put together many programs in our community & the surrounding areas, helping many families. What do you think is the initiative that your mom is most proud of?
I think Dorrie would be most proud of the many young people who are clean and sober. Our support groups have helped so many families change and those changes often influenced their children or loved ones to get help and go into treatment. The strength and courage displayed by the parents after months of hard work inspire the lives of the people around them.
Getting out into the community and changing policy is another way your mom & Newtown Parent Connection help drive change and awareness. Can you tell us about some of the programs you run at our local hospitals?
Dorrie met Jodi Switalski at a drug presentation that The Parent Connection brought to Newtown High School. The two of them spent many hours together talking about how they could be the “change” in how opioids were being prescribed and so they put their words into action and the first program was presented at Danbury Hospital during grand rounds. Both Doctors and Nurses were in attendance. It was a short program that touched on the importance of assessments, history and follow up of prescription medication. Once presented, the doctors and nurses wanted to hear more. It was at this point that Danbury Hospital allowed Jodi to speak to the physicians at Norwalk Hospital and then resulted in Jodi writing procedures for both hospitals.
Is Newtown Parent Connection involved in our local schools? If so How?
Newtown Parent Connection routinely does different presentations for students. The last one we did was on Vaping. Unfortunately 2 forums were cancelled due to Covid. Fairfield High School has two presentations on vaping scheduled and we had one scheduled at New Fairfield High School. We are pleased that we have been able to bring presentations into the surrounding schools. In addition, Newtown Parent Connection brought in the program “Kids in Crisis” which helps children and families cope with unsafe situations, family conflicts, substance abuse and mental health issues. The program runs 365 days a week and help is available 24/7.
What programs do you offer to support prevention and education on addiction?
In addition to everything above, Newtown Parent Connection also holds Parent Universities which is a day of education for parents and teachers. During this program we bring in more than 10 speakers. Families can choose different subjects such as nutrition for children, education on the drugs our children have access to, relationships, and many other topics. We also hold community forums during the year.
Next month, you’ll be holding your 10th Annual Golf Event, which is one of the main fundraisers for Newtown Parent Connection. Can you please share a bit more about the event, how to register, and how to donate?
Dorrie talks about the golf tournament always being such a fun day. After her husband’s passing, Kevin decided to get his dad’s friends together for a game of golf because his father loved to play. Kevin’s friends came from near and far and shared stories about her husband Kevin. It’s a great group of people honoring a wonderful person and just enjoying a special day. All the proceeds are used to help educate and empower communities in the prevention of substance abuse. To register or donate visit www.newtownparentconnection.org/archives/4316 . To learn more about groups, functions, and other opportunities contact Newtown Parent Connection at 203-270-1600.
One of my favorite parts of our Meet A Mom series is to hear what our interviewees say about the below. Would you mind answering for Dorrie?
Children & Ages and Grandchildren & their ages:
Children: Brian (49 deceased), Chris (39), Kevin (38), & Erin (36)
Grandchildren: Isla (10), Esme (6), Colin (6), Benjamin( 4), & Hudson (2)
Favorite spot in town:
Dorrie’s dock on Candlewood Lake
Favorite thing to do as a family: Favorite Book (or hobby):
She loves spending time on the lake with friends or family, and reading Danielle Steel books.