This blog project, A Guiding Light of HOPE is inspired by the many people the author has met who are on a mission to increase awareness, provide education, and promote health and healing regarding this ever challenging disease called addiction that is destroying lives on a daily basis.
My first contact with Carmen Capozzi was about three years ago when I came across a post on Facebook about Sage’s Army. I followed up with a two hour phone call with Carmen because I wanted to know more of his story and vision for Sage’s Army, an organization he started that was motivated by the tragic loss of his son, Sage.
Carmen knows all too well the pain associated with losing a child to drugs and he has set out to be an instrument of hope for others. His idea is that if he spares even just one family from having to face the pain he lives with daily, he has made a difference. It truly does take a village and in southwestern Pennsylvania that’s what they are doing – planting seeds and creating a doorway of hope for others!
Sage was a young man who had dreams and aspirations. He loved his family and friends and was always willing to lend a hand to those in need. Sage enjoyed golfing and was a born musician, just like his father. Sage considered attending college while working for his father’s business yet also had a desire to be a Marine. Sage brought a smile to anyone he was around.
Sage died on March 5, 2012, at the age of 20, from a heroin overdose.
What is Sage’s Army?
People ask what Sage’s Army is about. We are a Drug Awareness Coalition. I spent 2 days on the floor when Sage died and the only reason I got up was because I heard my son Sage say, “Dad get up they’re not bad kids - you have to help.”
Sage's Army is a 501c3 non-profit that I started March 15, 2012, ten days after I lost Sage. Sage’s Army is an amazing group of people from all over and we are taking action.
We are dedicated to offering programs and services designed to raise awareness of substances use disorder and to compassionately support those seeking recovery.
An international “army” of nearly 8,500 Facebook group members is at the heart of daily operations working to bring this epidemic to light through a variety of awareness programs including speaking at schools, performing puppet shows for younger children, public rallies, drug take back events, sober entertainment events, community meetings featuring experts as well as personal stories, and special events to encourage grassroots action and changes to the status quo. We are also active on the local, county and state levels in advocating for political and human service changes that will benefit those we serve.
Lisa, who is a member of Sage’s Army says, “the word that comes to mind for Sage’s Army is 'unfortunately necessary.' I am in awe of Sage’s dad. To the Capozzi family, THANK YOU for sharing your heart for the sake of helping other people. In my eyes, they are the most unselfish family I know.”
Why did you choose to be visible and vocal?
My personal mission since losing my son is to create a world of change and healing and I do this by speaking and modeling to inspire the truth. Families and individuals that struggle with addiction often don't know where to turn. They often feel alone and helpless. I want them to know what avenues are available. I want them to know that they don't have to be silent and they are definitely not alone. The more I am visible and in the public eye, the more I can be the voice for people that struggle with this disease. I can connect them to the right resources. I can be their hope.
Some might think we aren't doing enough. Well we are doing what we know how to do. One thing I have learned is nothing in this world happens overnight. We have made a lot of noise and we will continue to make our presence known. We will not hide in fear or shame.
What are the current goals for Sage’s Army?
Our goals are to bring this epidemic to light by Awareness, Compassion and Action, continuing our focus to help educate parents, school educators, administrators and counselors and to advocate for the resources and treatments for those fighting this disease within our communities. Currently, Sage’s Army hosts a monthly community meeting to increase awareness in our community, speak at schools and other events to share our message, offer prep classes for Certified Recovery Specialists, an Expressive Arts Recovery program and more! Our work is about getting out into our communities any way we can to let others know they are not alone.