Meet Lorri Zeiders – Working To End The Stigma Against Addiction and Mental Illness

  

As a community advocate, Lorri Zeiders works to change public policy and end the stigma against substance abuse, addiction and mental illness. 

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Making Mullica Hill Home

Lorri is a wife and mother of three children, ages 22, 20 and 18. She and her husband Rob moved from Merchantville to Mullica Hill five years ago to be closer to her sister, niece and nephew. She loves Mullica Hill for its wide open spaces, great school system, and fun community activities. She particularly loves shopping locally for unique gifts downtown, enjoying the paper and a cup of coffee at Crescent Moon and getting pampered at the Langmore Salon.

 

Catching the Tri Bug

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Shortly after Lorri moved to Mullica Hill, she joined the fledgling Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club at the encouragement of her sister.  “I joined because it was a vehicle to the community, not really because of the exercise,” Lorri says. She was not a runner, biker or swimmer when she joined the club, and had no interest in actually doing a triathlon.  So, when she started training she followed a “No pain, no gain” theory. Unfortunately, her overtraining resulted in a stress fracture which left her out of commission for months. After recovering, she completed the Parvin Tri – her very first triathlon. “I was the second to last swimmer out of the water,” she laughs.  “People were asking me if I was alright… I didn’t even know what I was doing.”

Since then, Lorri has definitely figured out what she is doing. She has many triathlons and road races under her belt and has placed in her age group numerous times. In the Atlantic City Sprint Triathlon she placed third for her age group, in Escape the Cape (which involves jumping off of the Cape May Ferry to start the ocean swim) she placed third last year and fifth this year. She has also stood on the podium for the past three years in Mullica Hill’s own Queen of the Hill.  “I really like the challenge and the feeling I get afterward,” Lorri says. In addition to her many triathlons, Lorri has completed two marathons and is training for her third this fall. This one will be special because she is doing it with her husband.  “I’ll do one every year, as long as I can,” she says.

 

A Community Advocate

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Lorri’s greatest challenge has neither been marathons nor triathlons. When her family began facing the very serious issue of substance abuse and addiction, it hit her hard. But as a devoted mother, she kept fighting to understand, support and help  - not just her own family, but others as well. When the Gloucester Regional Addiction and Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (GRASP) was formed approximately three years ago, they contacted her to be a parent volunteer. She agreed wholeheartedly, and has been an active volunteer with the group ever since.

GRASP’s mission is to educate the community about addiction and substance abuse and put an end to the stigma surrounding them. In her role, Lorri attends meetings and events, has given a talk at Rowan, and testified at a parody hearing at Stockton College with former Senator Patrick Kennedy. She explains that while individuals with addiction are supposed to be treated the same as those with medical conditions, there are no details or standards to guide this so it often doesn’t happen. “Patrick Kennedy considers this the civil rights movement of our day,” Lorri explains.

“My reason for joining the coalition was to get the word out about the dangers of prescription medications,” she says. Devoted to this mission, Lorri spends countless hours educating the public, sharing her family’s story both formally and informally, and helping make changes in public policy and law.

As a member of the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club, Lorri has had the opportunity to volunteer with their annual Causes. Two years ago, Lorri was on the committee to help raise awareness and money for Melanoma, a cause with great significance to her after her sister’s diagnosis. This year, Lorri is serving on the committee for their current cause – to End the Stigma Against Mental Illness. She presented at the club’s 2014 Educational Workshop and is currently trying to get changes made to a bill in the Assembly.

Lorri Zeiders – Community Activist, Devoted Advocate, Amazing Triathlete … Mullica Hill Mom.

 

 by: Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.