Q&A with Holliston High’s Mission Hugs Not Drugs

By Published On: February 9th, 2021Categories: Alcohol Addiction, Drug Addiction, NERC / Spectrum

Recently, the New England Recovery Center received a generous donation from Mission Hugs Not Drugs, an organization formed by Holliston High School students Isabela Rahim, Annika Rose and Avery Culver. Their mission was to educate their communities about the dangers of substance use, and they chose NERC as a partner to help further that mission.

We had a conversation with Isabela, Annika and Avery about this project and why it is important to educate youths and adults about opioid and alcohol use disorders.

Why did you start this organization?

We were all taking a service-learning class at school and were asked to pick an issue in our community and design our own project around it. After doing some initial research, we chose to raise awareness about substance use disorders and how people with them are struggling and feeling more isolated, especially during COVID-19.

What brought you to NERC?

Part of our project was to find a community partner. We knew we wanted to make a donation to someone near us, so we looked into NERC and what they stood for, their vocation, and we really liked it.

When we originally contacted David [Nefussy, VP of Business Development] and asked for a partnership, we also asked if there was someone from NERC who could speak to our school. We had to do it virtually over Zoom due to COVID-19, but Lisa Blanchard [VP of Clinical Services] was able to give a presentation to two freshman health classes – about 30 or so kids – about the effects of different substances on the body, the recovery process, how to support people in recovery, and how to stay away from high-risk behaviors.

How were you able to raise the money for the donation?

At the end of October, we did a candle drive to raise awareness about substance use among veterans and raised around $400. After that we moved onto a local business raffle and had a lot of businesses in the area donate gift cards and other items. We raised about $750 and were able to raise a little more from a GoFundMe page we set up.

Have you worked with anyone else in the community?

We did some work with the Holliston Drug and Alcohol Awareness Coalition, they’re a group that focuses on drug and alcohol use in the community. We’re helping them organize their social media, working with their youth coalition, and helping out with events, and doing training. Even though the project from our class has ended, we still plan to continue working with them.

Why is it important to do this work?

It’s important to realize that drug and alcohol use disorders have touched a lot of people that you may not even realize. COVID-19 has also impacted a large number of these same people, and they’re really struggling during this time.

We also want to say that we are so grateful to have had our community supporting us during this project, and we couldn’t have made our donation to NERC without them!


Isabela, Annika, and Avery  have done extremely important work with some of the struggling and less fortunate in their community. We’re thrilled that they chose to partner with us and we look forward to seeing what they do next!

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call the New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab.

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