Fayette County parents who lost their son to a drug overdose last year have started a foundation with the goal of preventing others from facing lethal addiction.
Educating Youth Early (EYE) on Addiction was started by LeRoy and Laura Schambach in memory of their son, Jeffrey Schambach, who died Aug. 30 at age 24 in Deer Lake.
The foundation is partnering with the Fayette County Drug and Alcohol Commission to fund its education programs. Erica Usher, the commission's prevention supervisor, visits schools to teach students from 3rd grade through high school about the dangers of drug addiction and identify at-risk youth.
"These programs do currently exist, but are weak in funding for the training of teaching staffs and the supplies necessary to maintain them," Laura Schambach said. "We will also be reaching out to our state senators for their support to inspire a bill to be passed to implement education programs in all Pennsylvania middle schools on up. Our goal is to educate youth early on addiction, before they fall into the age that peer pressure overcomes."
In an effort to contribute to the commission’s funding, the foundation is hosting an Opioid Crisis Benefit Dance on Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Christian Clay Winery in Chalk Hill. The event will feature an orchestra and catered meal.
They are also working with Rev. Terry and Rhonda Sanders of the Genesis House Ministry, which works with men struggling with addiction by providing transitional housing, community service opportunities and other resources.
"It is only the beginning for our endeavor to help our community and the young people who are the future. We hope to make a difference in someone’s life in loving memory of our son, Jeffrey Kent Schambach," Laura Schambach said.
In a flier for the event, the Schambachs urged people to remain vigilant about the opioid crisis, and to live with patience and understanding.
"Kinder words, sweeter actions, listening with patience, walk towards instead of away, and never abandon each other, for we do not know the burdens one may have,” they wrote.
Jeffrey spent the day before his death with his mom, making arrangements for him to go to rehab for the third time. He was found with his bags packed and insurance paperwork on the table.
In an interview shortly after his son’s funeral, LeRoy Schambach reflected on his son’s battle with addiction.
“I’m never embarrassed about Jeffrey,” he said. “I was talking to him at the funeral. I said, ‘I’m very proud of you.’ His life was short, but we’re still proud about how his life went. I wish he hadn’t done the drugs, but that’s something he couldn’t get through. It was a sickness. We all have something going on with us. We all fight battles every day. He just couldn’t win his battle.”
Tickets for Saturday’s fundraiser are $50 and can be purchased at the door or by calling Christian Klay Winery at 724-439-3424.
"If there is anyone with a hardship and cannot afford a ticket, but would like to attend, they can contact Christian Klay and request to speak to LeRoy. There are no guarantees, but we will try to accommodate," Laura Schambach said.