HGAR’S Christiansen Honored With NYSAR Community Service Award
Mary Prenon | March 2016
Carol Christiansen, broker/owner of Café Realty in Katonah, was recently named as one of NYSAR’s Community Service Award winners for bringing the subject of drug addiction to the forefront of the local community.
Christiansen, along with her late husband Lou and Susan and Steve Salomone founded “Drug Crisis in Our Backyard,” a program to promote awareness about drug addiction and offer support to individuals and families trying to cope with this illness.
“I’m so honored to be chosen for this award and I want to thank everyone who was involved in submitting the information to NYSAR,” she said. “This is such an important topic that affects everyone.”
Following the tragic death of her their son Erik, 28, the Christiansens reached out to the Salomones after reading their letter to the local newspaper about the loss of their son, Justin, from a drug overdose.
Erik Christiansen was a New York City police detective who was prescribed oxycodone for back pain. When he expressed to his mother that he thought he might be addicted, she assured him that it had to be safe because the doctor prescribed it. Later, he turned to heroin, which was less expensive and readily available.
“People don’t realize what’s happening,” she said. “Doctors are still prescribing this and it’s like a synthetic heroin. It is addicting and we have to bring more awareness about pharmacies and the opiates that are being prescribed.”
In addition to promoting drug addiction understanding and support, Drug Crisis in Our Backyard is dedicated to working toward legislation that would hold doctors, pharmacies and medical institutions accountable for over-prescribing these drugs.
“There are more than 100,000 people a year in America who overdose—even the elderly,” added Christiansen. In fact, she said, the average age of today’s addict is 41. “We don’t raise our children to become drug addicts, so we need to continue getting the word out on what’s happening,” she said.
Christiansen typically receives about three calls a week from other concerned parents, while the Salomones usually get close to 10 calls. “People are so happy that they have a place to turn to,” she said.
Drug Crisis in Our Backyard held its first community meeting in 2012. Since that time, the organization has made significant inroads in the battle against addiction in northern Westchester and Putnam counties. Working jointly with legislators and providers in the local community to stem the tide of local overdoses, they have also been offering Narcan Training (an overdose antidote), presenting to PTA/PTO organizations and hosting a bi-weekly support group for loved ones dealing with the addiction of a friend or family member. Last year, the group held 15 events throughout Westchester and Putnam counties.
This year, their family support sessions continue in Yorktown, Mahopac and Dutchess County. A host of other events are also planned for this spring and summer including forums at local high schools, a self-defense class for high school girls, fundraisers and street fairs. Visit www.DrugCrisisInOurBackyard.com for a complete list of events.
Christiansen said people from other areas of the country have contacted her and the Salomones to start their own local divisions of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard. “It’s really a grassroots operation and we’re happy to provide help wherever and whenever we can,” she said.
Christiansen was named the HGAR “Realtor of the Year” in 2014 as well as “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Women’s Council of Realtors, Empire Chapter. She has been in real estate for more than 20 years and started her own firm in 2013.
PHOTO CAPTION: From left, 2105 NYSAR President Mike Smith; Carol Christiansen; 2016 NAR President Tom Salomone, and Cindy Mead, also a CSA winner, a Realtor from Chestertown, NY.