News Department

Operation Helping Hand 3rd annual Overdose Awareness Day event to be held at TD Bank Ballpark on Aug. 26

SOMERVILLE, NJ (Somerset County) – The Prosecutors’ Offices of Hunterdon, Somerset, Union, and Warren counties announce the 3rd annual Overdose Awareness Day event being held on Saturday, August 26 at TD Bank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots, the New York Yankees Double-A affiliate.

International Opioid Overdose Awareness Day – a campaign to end drug overdose by promoting prevention and harm reduction strategies – is observed annually on August 31.

In recognition of this day, the Operation Helping Hand (OHH) initiatives of Hunterdon, Somerset, Union, and Warren counties have joined together to support individuals in recovery and to honor the lives lost to drug addiction. To help reduce the stigma surrounding substance use disorder and encourage conversations around the issue, the four county prosecutors’ offices have joined together to show solidarity in their commitment to helping individuals and communities affected by this disease.

“Stigma associated with substance use disorder can be a significant barrier to individuals seeking treatment for their disease,” said John P. McDonald, Somerset County Prosecutor. “By showing our organization’s a unified front, we are sending a powerful message of hope to the community which can inspire those to make the first steps towards their recovery.”

“A key part of promoting remembrance is reminding our community that each person lost is not merely a statistic, but a dynamic individual who leaves behind hopes, dreams, friends, and family members, and those who cared for them remain devastated by their absence – we see you and you are not alone,” said Renée M. Robeson, Hunterdon County Prosecutor.

“Opioid overdose is a preventable tragedy, and we need to do everything we can to raise awareness of the risks and how to prevent them,” said William A. Daniel, Union County Prosecutor. “As prosecutors, we have a responsibility to hold those accountable who contribute to overdose deaths, but we also need to be partners in finding solutions.”

“Opioid addiction has a devastating impact on persons struggling with substance use disorder, as well as affecting their families and loved ones,” said James L. Pfeiffer, Warren County Prosecutor. “Through programs such as Operation Helping Hand, law enforcement can provide pathways of hope to a life free of addiction.”

“This is our second year working with Operation Helping Hand on this great program,” said Patriots Vice President of Operations Bryan Iwicki. “Opioid overdose touches so many people’s lives in so many ways. I think almost everyone knows someone that has suffered from addiction in some way, and being able to educate people at the ballpark on how to get help and educating others on how they can help their friends and family is so important.”

Local community partners Community in Crisis (Bernardsville), Parent to Parent Addiction Services Inc. (Washington), Prevention Links (Roselle), and Prevention Resources (Flemington) collaborated in planning the event.

On game day, Naloxone kits will be distributed through a partnership with the New Jersey State Department of Human Services. The kits are available to those in the community that are at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose and/or to those in the position to administer the opioid antidote to a person experiencing an opioid overdose.

There will be a 50/50 raffle to benefit Parent to Parent Addiction Services Inc., a 501c3 non-profit based in Warren County. Parent to Parent Addiction Services, Inc. provides resources, education, and advocacy to individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders. Co-directors Debi Natale and Helen Carey have dedicated their lives to promoting strength and hope through peer-to-peer services such as client system navigation, family and grief support, and community outreach.

The Somerset Patriots are the New York Yankees Double-A Affiliate and develop today’s top minor league talent into the pinstriped superstars of tomorrow for MLB’s winningest team. The Patriots are the reigning Eastern League Champions and play their home games at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ, where fans of all ages and levels of baseball fandom get to enjoy the unique experience that is minor league baseball.

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Funding for the OHH program comes from a grant provided by the New Jersey Office of the Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES), the Office within the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General that coordinates the addiction-fighting efforts of the Department of Law and Public Safety relating to the opioid epidemic. In 2016, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office developed an innovative prosecutor-led program known as OHH, whereby law enforcement actively links individuals with substance use issues to treatment and/or recovery services. The traditional model involves law enforcement officers arresting individuals purchasing heroin or other narcotics at open-air drug markets and then immediately offering to link those individuals to care.

In 2018, the Department of Law & Public Safety expanded the Bergen County OHH model to four additional counties and thereafter, supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, OHH was expanded to 17 counties. Thanks to $2.2 million in State Funding, OHH became operational in all 21 counties in 2019.

Some counties continue to operate traditional, arrest based OHH programs, while others have chosen to have law enforcement proactively link individuals suffering from substance use issues to treatment and/or recovery services through non-arrest means such as roving vehicles, Superior Court or Municipal Court programs, and direct outreach to those identified as most at-risk of overdosing.

Somerset County residents: Anyone seeking addiction services offered reach out to OHH by calling 908-393-8888, visiting the Somerset County OHH website at, or emailing to be connected to services.

Hunterdon County residents: Those in need of recovery services to contact OHH by calling 908-788-1129 or visiting the Hunterdon County OHH website at to be connected to services.

Union County residents: Anyone seeking addiction services reach out to the OHH 24/7/365 hotline by calling 1-885-825-3275.

Warren County residents: Those in need to contact Parent to Parent Addiction Services via 908-223-1951 to be linked directly to services.


Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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