Informed Families Blog

President's Message - April 2017

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on April 25, 2017 at 5:44 PM

Listen Up: Teen Mistakes & Their Unintended, Permanent Consequences

4,300 children die each year due to underage drinking-related causes. Springtime is a peak time for celebrations - and that's why parents need to take steps to ensure parties held in their home and in the community are Safe Homes, Smart Parties. Sure, there’s a chance your kids will make it out unscathed, but is it really worth the risk? 

US District Court Judge Beth Bloom and her son Jacob Stern, a high school student then attending Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, developed a presentation called "Listen Up: Teen Mistakes & Their Unintended, Permanent Consequences." For a busy parent of a teenager, Jacob's presentation is concise, eye-opening and should be mandatory viewing for both kids and parents! I ask you to please watch our 30-minute video and share it with your friends who are raising teenagers. Get the family together and spend 30 minutes to save yourselves a lot of time, money and hassle. The beauty of online viewing is you can stop and restart at your convenience.

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Topics: President's Message, safe parties, safe homes smart parties, alcohol, parents

What Actually Goes On at High School Parties?

Posted by Informed Families on April 13, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Parents of high schoolers worry about the parties their kids attend, and rightfully so. Drinking and drug use may occur at unsupervised parties; inebriated teens may get behind the wheel and endanger the lives of themselves, their passengers and innocent drivers; and alcohol poisoning, sexual assault or arrest are stark possibilities when minors drink to excess.

However, the image of a crazy high school party in which parents are on vacation and the whole school shows up for a kegger is a little overblown. Yes, the occasional party does approach out-of-control levels, but the majority of parties are smaller affairs, drawing no more than a few dozen kids, and perhaps even thrown with the blessing of parents who think teens will be safer if they drink in a supervised setting.

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Topics: high school, safe homes smart parties

President's Message - March 2017

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on March 31, 2017 at 9:29 AM

Two Things I've Learned About Prom & Graduation Season

It’s Party Time! Prom, Spring Break, Graduation... We want our kids to have fun and create memories – but we want them to be safe. Both can be achieved by serving the best thing parents can serve their children: common sense. Kids who start drinking before age 15 are 6 times more likely to develop alcohol problems as adults. And with 4,300 children dying each year due to underage drinking-related causes, we all need to help our kids celebrate safely.

The two things I’ve learned about Prom & Graduation Season are:

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Topics: President's Message, safe parties, safe homes smart parties, alcohol, parents

Florida High Schools: How to Keep Your Prom Drug-Free

Posted by Informed Families on March 29, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Prom creates a wonderful memory for many students at Florida high schools. Teens plan, both individually and at school, to make prom a special night. Yet, drugs and alcohol can sometimes ruin that special night. In the worst-case scenario, the night can become tragic.

According to a AAA survey, 31 percent of high schoolers say they or someone they know plan to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometime during prom/graduation season. This statistic is troubling—students go through the effort of creating that special prom memory (not to mention the money their parents spend on gowns, tuxes and so on), then might get impaired enough to not remember the night.

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Topics: high school, drug free, drug prevention

Parenting Classes: How to Have the Hard Conversations

Posted by Informed Families on March 22, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The questions are tough to hear and challenging to answer:

  • “Mom, why is marijuana legal in some states and illegal in others?”
  • “Dad, what should I do if all my friends are drinking at a party and pressure me to have a beer?”
  • “My neck hurts. Can I take one of those Vicodins you were prescribed after your surgery last year?”
  • “Mom, Dad, did you drink when you were in high school?”

These are important questions your teens might be asking. And even if they aren’t asking, the topics are still important ones to discuss with your kids. Unfortunately, these hard conversations often scare parents, who worry they might not get their point across, will sound too frantic when their teens are asking about pot or won’t know what to say beyond “just say no.”

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Topics: parenting, tips for talking with your kids about drugs

Save The Date - Dinner At Joe's Is May 15, 2017

Posted by Informed Families on March 17, 2017 at 4:12 PM

The 32nd Annual Informed Families Dinner at Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant will take place on Monday, May 15, 2017. The Joe's dinner will raise funds to support Informed Families' prevention programs and initiatives across Florida, which are designed to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.

On March 16, event co-chairs Pam Gigante-Bunge & Alfred Bunge generously opened up their beautiful Pinecrest home to sponsors, board members and friends of Informed Families to preview plans for the fabulous upcoming 32nd Annual Dinner at Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant, which will be held on May 15th. The Bunges, along with fellow event co-chairs, Linda Neider & Paul Sugrue, gathered with and thanked sponsors and special guests, while sharing exciting details about the much-anticipated event.

The theme of this year’s dinner is “Communities That Care.” Working together as a community is necessary to stop the spread of drug use, especially the devastating current opioid epidemic:

  • According to a 2017 article in The New York Times, “Public health officials have called the current opioid epidemic the worst drug crisis in American history, killing more than 33,000 people in 2015.
  • Overdose deaths were nearly equal to the number of deaths from car crashes.
  • In 2015, for the first time, deaths from heroin alone surpassed gun homicides.
The Joe's event helps Informed Families reach over 3.2 million children and their families across Florida.

Besides, who can resist sharing a dinner of Joe's Stone Crabs with family and friends - without the wait? The annual Informed Families Dinner at Joe’s is an event with no boring speeches; just good friends and families who want to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free!

The Informed Families dinner at Joe’s brings out Miami’s best families. Will you be part of the festivities? For more information, please contact Esther Davila or 305-856-4886. View sponsorship information.

About the 2017 Joe's Event Co-Chairs

Pam Giganti-Bunge

Pam Giganti-Bunge is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and veteran news anchor who has worked in the radio and television industry for the last 26 years. She is currently the host of public affairs program, Your South Florida, on South Florida PBS. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Miami’s School of Communication. For nearly 15 years, she led WTVJ NBC 6’s morning team as anchor of South Florida Today. Giganti-Bunge has covered presidents and leaders, soldiers in wartime, and devoted countless hours to breaking news including hurricanes. In 2009, she won an Emmy for her health special, “Breast Cancer: Interactive.” She has been recognized with an NBC Certificate of Excellence and an Ovation Award for Outstanding Teamwork. Giganti-Bunge has supported several charitable organizations in addition to Informed Families. She is a former board member of the Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and has mentored at-risk high school girls through Women of Tomorrow. Pam and her husband Alfred Bunge are the proud parents of three daughters.

Alfred Bunge

Alfred Bunge is a Managing Director and Banker at the J.P. Morgan Private Bank. He leads an integrated team of specialists that advises ultra-high net worth clients throughout South Florida and Puerto Rico; delivering an array of customized financial planning, investment management and fiduciary services, among others. Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, Bunge was a Principal at Bernstein Global Wealth Management where he led and mentored a team of financial advisors and associates to deliver financial strategies to high net worth clients and their professional advisors in South Florida and Latin America. Before entering the financial services industry, Bunge served as regional manager for the Latin America Management Team of Fortune 100 company, Johnson Controls, Inc. A commissioned officer of the U.S. Navy, Bunge graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a BS in Economics and Political Science, and serves as Vice President of the United States Naval Academy Alumni Association – Miami Chapter. He earned an MBA from the University of Miami where he has remained active and is Past-President of the Citizens Board and former Member of the UM Board of Trustees. Bunge is a member of the Orange Bowl Committee and Advisory Board member of Mission United, the United Way of Miami’s veteran support organization.

Dr. Linda Neider

Dr. Linda Neider serves many roles at the University of Miami, where she has won dozens of awards teaching undergraduate, MBA and executive classes in leadership, organizational behavior and human capital (resource) management. She is Director of the Master of Science program in Management, Leadership specialization and Professor in the Department of Management and the Department of Health Sector Management and Policy plus the Program Coordinator, Human Capital Curriculum, Global MBA Program for the Americas. Neider is also former Vice Dean at UM for Internal University Relations, Global/Cross- Disciplinary Initiatives and Undergraduate Programs. She co-edits the book series, Research in Management, which recently published Ethical Leadership (volume 10) and Transforming Organizations (volume 11). In addition to her commitment to UM, Neider serves on the Board of Directors for the Humane Society of Greater Miami, the Board of Governors for the Young Patronesses of the Opera and the Board of the Cotillion Club of Greater Miami. Neider has an M.A., an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Dr. Paul Sugrue

Dr. Paul Sugrue is a proud veteran and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the former Dean of the School of Business at the University of Miami and Professor of Management Science. As Dean from 1992-2007, Sugrue doubled the square footage of the School of Business by raising money to fully fund the construction of seven major capital projects: DelaCruz Study Center, Ziff Graduate Placement Center, Storer Auditorium, McLamore Executive Education Center, Aresty Graduate School Building, Kosar/Epstein Faculty Office Building and the Newman Information Resource Center. During his tenure as Dean, Sugrue significantly improved the School of Business with the M.B.A. program ranking as 14th among regional business schools by The Wall Street Journal and 58th nationally by US News and World Report; undergraduate SAT scores increased by 210 points, twice the increase for the rest of the university; and freshmen retention rose from 78% in 1992 to 92% in 2007. Sugrue currently teaches Statistics and publishes in the area of financial aid allocation models. Besides his B.S. from the Naval Academy, Sugrue earned an M.B.A. from the University of Rhode Island and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Married to Linda Neider, their one daughter has completed her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is currently pursuing her Ph.D.

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Topics: Joe's Stone Crab, Peggy Sapp, Florida, fundraiser

Star Ambassador: Martina Belotti of Monroe County

Posted by Informed Families on March 16, 2017 at 11:55 AM

After raising five kids and running a full time child care center for over two decades, Martina "Tina" Belotti has dedicated her life to helping all Monroe County children have a bright future. As an Informed Families Ambassador and professional counselor at Marathon Middle School and Marathon High School, Tina works to help students grow up safe, healthy and drug free through Informed Families’ four campaigns and several other initiatives.

“I originally heard about Informed Families over the years at different statewide conferences,” said Tina. “I am very happy to be an Ambassador and gain access to the resources they provide me. As a prevention counselor, I do a monthly presentation to students, in addition to various groups, and I typically have to seek out and be creative about obtaining materials. I want the kids to get excited about prevention on campus so it helps.”

From running lunchtime youth-led pledge campaigns and coordinating activities for Red Ribbon Week to delivering the evidence-based program Project Success and volunteering with a team of students for various events such as the 7 Mile Bridge Run, Tina possesses a seemingly endless supply of energy and passion for her work. However, her budget for programs and activities is extremely limited. Luckily, what Tina lacks in finances, she makes up for in human resources. Tina works with her daughter, Dr. Christina Belotti, an 8th grade Language Arts teacher at Marathon Middle School, to coordinate school-wide activities with 40 student volunteers, or Youth Ambassadors appropriately named the “Keys To Be The Change.”

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Topics: red ribbon week, ambassadors, campaigns, safe homes smart parties, parents

Florida Middle Schools: Is It Too Soon to Talk About Drugs?

Posted by Informed Families on March 15, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Middle school is a wonderful, crazy and confusing time for kids. Their hormones begin to kick into high gear, they are becoming more self-aware and independent, and they begin to feel more like adults and less like children. Indeed, the “middle” in middle school is appropriate—these kids are not quite ready for high school, and in many ways, still behave like tweens.

This is exactly why middle school is not too soon to talk to your students about drugs; in fact, many prevention professionals would tell you to start talking much earlier. In an effort to act older, students may engage in riskier behavior, like trying drugs and alcohol, but as younger teens (as may also be true for older teens), they might not be equipped to understand the consequences of their choices. Florida middle schools cannot be shy or naively believe, “Oh, these kids are too young for this kind of talk.” The reality is, they aren’t too young—this is a perfect time to spread the message about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Here are some important points for educators to keep in mind as they do:

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Topics: tips for talking with your kids about drugs, drugs

Help Your Teen Throw Fun (and Safe) High School Parties

Posted by Informed Families on March 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The idea of high school parties often conjures images of outrageous bashes you remember from John Hughes movies or other teen flicks from the ’80s and ’90s. Or, perhaps you recall parties from your own youth and the chaos that may have accompanied them. These memories may scare you into never trusting your teens to throw a party themselves—even one that’s supervised.

Make no mistake: Unsupervised high school parties are a terrible idea, often descending into Sixteen Candles- or American Pie-type anarchy and destruction. However, when properly planned and supervised, with clear rules in place, your teens can throw a party for their friends that is both fun and safe. Here are some tips on how to help them make that happen:

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Topics: high school, safe parties, safe homes smart parties

How to Enforce Family Rules

Posted by Informed Families on March 1, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Parents are the biggest influencers in their teenagers’ lives. With so many competing influences, parents might not believe that, and good luck getting teens to admit it—but it’s true nonetheless. For example, one survey discovered that kids whose parents told them that underage drinking was unacceptable were 80 percent less likely to drink. This powerful statistic underscores the importance of delivering straightforward messages about drugs and alcohol to your teens and setting—and enforcing—strong family rules.

Alas, those family rules can become a bone of contention with teens, who are at an age in which they are trying to carve their own independence. However, they can more easily make their own decisions, and work toward their independence, if they know and understand their parents’ rules and expectations. Here are some tips for enforcing family rules that, ultimately, will help protect your teen:

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Topics: parenting, family rules

About Us

We teach people how to say no to drugs and how to make healthy choices. To reduce the demand for drugs, Informed Families has focused its efforts on educating and mobilizing the community, parents and young people in order to change attitudes. In this way we counteract the pressures in society that condone and promote drug and alcohol use and abuse. The organization educates thousands of families annually about how to stay drug and alcohol free through networking and a variety of programs and services .

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