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Western Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of neighborhood, personal and community commitment. Our pride in pulling together goes far beyond supporting our deep-rooted sports teams. 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference honors the individuals that are making a difference in people's lives on the ground level and reminding us we are all truly a part of each other's lives.This special series, supported by UPMC, will highlight, honor and celebrate Western Pennsylvanians who are unsung heroes daring to make a difference to others in our community.00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770c8000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770ca000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cc000090.5 WESA PA listening area counties:Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Westmoreland, Butler, Armstrong, Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Fayette, Indiana00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cd0000This project is made possible by a generous contribution from UPMC.

WESA Celebrates: Carmen Capozzi And Sage's Army

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Mark Nootbaar
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90.5 WESA
Sage's Army founder Carmen Capozzi stands in front of the memorial wall at Sage's Haven. Capozzi lost his son Sage to a heroin overdose.

When 20-year-old Sage Capozzi died from a heroin overdose in 2012 his father, Carmen Capozzi, said he lay on the floor for two days until he heard his son’s voice say, “Dad get up. They’re not bad kids. You have to help.”

A few days later, one of Sage’s friends came to Capozzi’s house to show Carmen a Facebook page created as a memorial to Sage. That page led to the creation of the Sage’s Army page.

“There were 1,800 people signed up in 24 hours, asking me for help or telling me their situation,” said Capozzi. “My wife said to me, ‘What are you going to do?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m just going to talk.’ And that’s what we did, we just talked.”

That talk has led to much more than just a place on the web.

Carmen Capozzi, and other members of Sage’s Army, now talk to kids at school assemblies, reach out to families at parades and community events, and offer a safe gathering place in Irwin, known as Sage’s Haven.

“I know from the beginning [Sage’s Haven] is something he wanted to do,” said Michele Evens, who struggled with her own addiction to pain pills, and now volunteers with Sage’s Army. “Somewhere, anywhere, for addicts to go and not be surrounded by bad influences.”

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Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA
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90.5 FM WESA
Sage's Army Founder Carmen Capozzi talks to Michele Evans at Sage's Haven in Irwin. Evans came to Sage's Army through her addiction to pain pills. She now volunteers to help others.

Capozzi and his friends try to get users the treatment they need, help family members support loved ones through their recovery and lift up anyone who has been touched by the tragedy of an overdose.

“What this has done is show people you don’t have to be ashamed to talk about this," said Capozzi. "The enemy wants us to hide in stigma, they want us to stay in the dark. Sage’s army is trying to bring people out of the dark.”

Hear more of Carmen Capozzi's story.

CarmenCapozzi.mp3

Hear more from Michele Evans.

MicheleEvans.mp3