Saddleback College celebrates 24 years of ‘Red Ribbon Day’

Peggy Dakin, health sciences and human services program specialist has been organizing the "Red Ribbon"  day for ten  years. Lariat/ Elizabeth Ortiz.

Peggy Dakin, health sciences and human services program specialist has been organizing the “Red Ribbon” day for ten years. Lariat/ Elizabeth Ortiz.

The public display of a variety of colors of ribbons have become easily identifiable as promotion of awareness. For nearly a quarter century, the red ribbon has come to symbolize the fall programs to teach people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol addiction.

Saddleback College’s 24th Annual “Red Ribbon” Resource and Career Fair was held in the quad Thursday, Oct. 30.

Approximately 20 agencies with information and resources in the fields of alcohol and drug prevention, intervention and recovery, community-based corrections and mental health were available to answer questions. Al-Anon, Family Groups, MADD, Women Helping Women/Men2Work, and Stand up for Kids were represented, to name a few.

“This national week is an excellent way to get information out to the public by letting those without hope know that there is help,” said Health Sciences and Human Services Program Specialist Peggy Dakin. ” [There has been] Employment opportunities [for] many former students [who] have gotten jobs in the past and come back to volunteer on campus.”

Kim Branch-Stewart, Department Chair of Human Services, said the event helps students in the field of human services with internship and employment opportunities while promoting a drug-free environment.

The “Red Ribbon” became the symbol that embraced the idea of prevention of drugs and alcohol abuse 24 years ago because of a tragedy that took place with a former DEA officer, Enrique Camarena, known as “Kiki.”

According to the Red Ribbon campaign information provided by the National Family Partnership, Camarena was murdered when the Drug Enforcement Administration sent him undercover in Mexico to investigate a major DEA that is believed to have included officers in the Mexican army, police and government.

His mother tried to talk him out of the investigation altogether, but in 1985, the 37-year-old left the office to meet his wife when five men reportedly shoved him into a car before he met her. One month later his body was found tortured.

In honor of Camerena’s memory and passion to make a difference against illegal drugs, neighbors and friends gathered together and started wearing red badges of satin. Later, the National Family Partnership Organization formed the Red Ribbon campaign and since that time, it has reached millions of U.S. citizens.

This podcast reports on a campus success story about a student’s battle against addiction and information on various organizations that are made available to students.