It was a family’s worst nightmare: On December 7, 2018, the Deane family of Madison, CT, lost son Joe, 23, to an overdose of fentanyl.
The devastated family—parents Lisa and Peter and Joe’s brother Mike—channeled their grief into creating DemandZERO, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating parents and children about the prevalence and dangers of fentanyl, and providing resources to law enforcement to combat drug trafficking.
As the public face of the organization, Lisa has worked tirelessly to spare other families from a similar tragedy.
“Joe had been sober for months,” Lisa said. “We always thought that if he had had more time, instead of finding drugs immediately, maybe he wouldn’t have used that day. But the streets were so saturated that he was able to find drugs within minutes.”
“That’s why we chose the mission to help law enforcement fight drug trafficking,” she said.
And what a productive mission it has been. Lisa and longtime friend and neighbor Karen Siclari have worked hand-in-hand on DemandZERO projects that include:
- Donating three drug-detection K-9s and a K-9 police car to the New Haven Police Department
- Sponsoring drug awareness events, including a Walk for Fentanyl Awareness Day
- Spearheading legislation to provide support programs for addicts and to stiffen penalties for dealers
- Speaking to area schools and community organizations about the dangers of fentanyl and other opioids
- Helping produce, write, and act in “Finding Hope,” an anti-drug film geared toward young people
- Conducting numerous fundraisers, including an annual clam bake and a golf tournament.
In recognition of her efforts, The Madison Foundation has selected Lisa to receive its Hero Volunteer Award. Given to a Madison resident who donates an exceptional amount of time and energy to a local organization, the award provides a $2,500 grant to the winner’s charity of choice.
Foundation President Dave Allen said Lisa’s tireless work to stem the tide of opioid addiction and its devastating effects is a significant benefit to all Madison residents, and made her an obvious choice for this year’s Hero award winner.
The award is flattering, Lisa said, but really belongs to “all of our donors — the people who make every single initiative happen.”
The grant will help fund “CT Drug-Free Is Up to Me,” an interactive program that will be streamed live to middle and high school assemblies from 9 to 10 a.m. on Nov. 21, Lisa said. It will be hosted by rapper, educator, and activist Dee-1, and will include educational games in which schools compete against each other.
Nominations for the next Volunteer Hero Award will close on January 31, 2024. You can nominate a volunteer hero here.
Founded in 1996, The Madison Foundation connects donors to causes that make Madison a better place to live, today and in the future. The Foundation provides grants to organizations that serve Madison’s social, cultural, environmental, educational, and recreational needs.