Dennis Bonvie Drug Free Fan Club

Affiliation and Partnership with Dennis Bonvie, Former National Hockey League and American Hockey League Icon

We are pleased to announce the addition of Dennis Bonvie, former American Hockey League icon and National Hockey League player, to our prevention/education team. Dennis will visit schools and community events and will present drug and alcohol messages to children and youth.

Additionally, “Bonvie’s Brigade”, a drug and alcohol free fan club, has been initiated and will challenge youth to make a pledge to be drug and alcohol free. The signed card will entitle them to rewards throughout the community.


Weapons Deterrent Programs for Youth

At the request of Luzerne County Juvenile Judge, Tina Polachek Gartley, the agency is developing a weapons deterrence program to work with juveniles that are court ordered to undergo a 4-6 hour program. These youngsters that will be referred have already violated weapons laws and/or have a fixation or are enamored with gun possession and use. The agency is working with the Luzerne County District Attorney, area weapons experts, Pennsylvania State Police, Wilkes-Barre Police, Luzerne County Sheriff’s Department, etc. to craft a program that will provide these young people with an intensive educational experience designed to reduce or eliminate their fascination with weapons. The agency has also solicited input from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Juvenile Judges Commission. Additionally, a “Weapons Deterrence For Youth” booklet has been developed to provide youth with information and education on this subject. The booklet will be used for school and community presentations.

Youth, Gangs, and Drugs

Operation Gang Up

Congressman Lou Barletta and State Senator John Yudichak have joined forces in establishing a powerful multi-county gang prevention/education program entitled, “Operation Gang Up”. WVADS, Inc. has been asked to play a pivotal role through presentations on gang awareness at community forums, and the CEO, Carmen F. Ambrosino, has been asked to serve as a co-chairman of a bi-county agency sub-committee. Additionally, WVADS, Inc. staff (Carmen F. Ambrosino, CEO, and Jason Harlen, Assistant CEO) have participated in a national gang conference in Las Vegas, NV. Also, all staff of the agency have undergone extensive gang training and workshops conducted by Capt. Robert Maguire, foremost gang trainer with the Lackawanna County Prison. The agency has developed a community booklet entitled, “Youth, Gangs, and Drugs”, that has been highly acclaimed for its informational content. Finally, the agency offers assistance to young people to prevent them from becoming involved with gang activity. Counselors, as well as the agency’s prevention/education team, is well-versed in initiatives to dissuade youth from gang involvement.


Street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs are the primary distributors of illegal drugs on the streets of the United States. There are 30,000 gangs in the United States with close to 1 million members. According to a recent Department of Justice survey, 20 percent of students aged 12 through 18 reported that street gangs had been present at their school during the previous 6 months. Gangs represent less than 1 percent of the total population in most communities; however, in many areas, they commit as much as half of all crime.


  • Caucasian
  • Hispanic
  • African-American
  • Asian
  • Prison
  • Outlaw Motorcycle

Additionally, there are SUPER GANGS whose membership typically exceeds 1,000 members, and they operate in numerous states with extensive and well-organized drug networks.

Examples of Super Gangs:

  • Bloods
  • Crips
  • Surenos
  • Norteños
  • Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)
  • Latin Kings
  • Black Gangster Disciples
  • 18th Street
  • The Folk Nation
  • The People Nation


Today, more than at any other time in our history, more youth have become disenfranchised from their individual families and the community as a whole. Dr. Matthew David O’Deane in his book, “Gang Investigator’s Handbook”, states, “Many gangs exploit the weaknesses of youth recruits, playing on their own fears and vulnerabilities and manipulating them into believing that
the gang will be a better family when compared to their real family.” Additionally, according to Dr. O’Deane, “members are being recruited between 9 and 14 years old and more females are
being recruited than in the past.” Our agency, as well, has become increasingly concerned that more youth are becoming fixated and enamored with the gang culture; hand signs used by
various gangs, tattoos affiliated with gang names, clothing/patches specific to certain gangs, paraphernalia. Additionally, youth gangs have proliferated since 1980 and are attracting youth at earlier ages. It is imperative, we feel, to challenge our community to become pro-active through the development of educational and informative resources. After all, is there anything more important than our children?


  • Skipping school/truancy
  • Using gang hand signs
  • Wearing clothing of the same color
  • Wearing bandanas
  • Rolling up their pant legs in a certain way
  • Gang related/specific tattoos
  • Imitate the dress and actions of rap artists
  • Drug/alcohol use
  • Sudden changes in friends
  • Decline in school grades
  • Withdrawing from family activities
  • Staying out late or all night
  • Arrogant or defiant attitude
  • Having money without having a job
  • Using gang language
  • Running away
  • Becoming sexually promiscuous
  • Suicide attempts
  • Involvement in criminal activity


According to Dr. Matthew David O’Deane, author of the “Gang Investigator’s Handbook”, “gangs form in part because they fulfill crucial psychological needs for their members.” Many experts today feel that an unstable family unit is the greatest predictor of gang membership, even more so than poverty or lack of social services. Gang research findings indicate that compared with non-gang youth, gang members are more socially inept, have lower self-esteem, and in general, have sociopathic characteristics. Additionally, according to the research, they have more delinquent views of themselves, have experienced more traumatizing events in their life, and have greater tendencies to resolve conflicts by threats and violence. One of the most consistent findings from research on gangs is the role of negative peer pressure/influence. The strongest predictors of sustained gang affiliation are a high level of interaction with delinquent, anti-social peers, and a low level of interaction with positive social peers.

Youth: Drugs, Alcohol, and Suicide

WVADS, Inc. has developed and produced a new booklet entitled, “Youth; Drugs, Alcohol, and Suicide”, which continues to be widely distributed throughout Luzerne and Wyoming Counties. Both the clinical and prevention/education staff have undergone extensive training on this subject. Local school districts, in responding to 4 completed suicides in a one-week period of 2012, solicited the assistance of the agency in responding to these emergencies. Consultation, recommendations, and information for schools and community were developed. The agency reviewed cluster suicide reports from Dover, Delaware incidents, spoke with parents whose children had completed suicides, and reviewed literature and research in the development of these materials. The National Household Survey of Drug Abuse found that young people ages 12-17 who used alcohol or illegal drugs were more likely to be at risk for suicide than young people who did not use alcohol or drugs. The top 3 killers of young people in the United States, ages 16-25, are car accidents, murders, and suicides—and drugs and alcohol are responsible for 75% of these deaths. Approximately 1 out of every 15 high school students attempt suicide each year The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) believes that as many as 25 teen suicides are attempted for each one that is completed According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website, although bullying doesn’t cause suicide, a stressful environment and persistent emotional victimization can increase a person’s risk of suicide.

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