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#18DaysOfGratitude – Fred Vasapolli

After founder Bonnie Parker, there’s a pretty short list of people with as meaningful of an influence on HiTOPS than Fred Vasapolli.

At the height of the AIDS crisis some 25+ years ago, the state government offered a fair amount of funding to create a “Pep Rally” style event to bring attention to the AIDS issue with young people. Rather than settling for a one-off event they knew would be a colossal waste of scarce resources, Fred, a program officer with the NJ Dept. of Health, Bonnie Parker, and Sharon Powell of then PCLT, now Center for Supportive Schools, sat around a table and created the Teen Prevention Education Program (Teen PEP).

The school based peer led sexual health initiative is a model program, and still going strong to this day making lasting impact on thousands of young people each year. Though countless changes in administrations both at the State and Federal levels, Fred has been a tireless advocate and partner with HiTOPS and CSS.

Today was his last visit to HiTOPS, and tomorrow he retires. We will miss his guiding hand, compassion and boundless encouragement. Thanks Fred, you are a truly remarkable person.