Community Anti-Drug Coalition conducts organizational meeting
Posted: Thursday, September 2, 2010 9:01 pm
By: Donna Ryder, Associate Editor
By DONNA RYDER
Keeping Obion County drug free was on the minds of about 30 people who attended an organizational meeting Monday to form a Community Anti-Drug Coalition here.
The event was hosted by the Weakley County Alliance for a Safe and Drug Free Tennessee, which has received a Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Division for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services grant to help form the local coalition, according to grant coordinator Kristi Townes.
Pam White, executive director of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions Across Tennessee, was the guest speaker and explained how the organization helps local coalitions. She personally has been helping communities build the anti-drug groups across the nation since the early 1990s and in Tennessee since 2000. She said the Obion County group is the largest she has ever seen for a kick off meeting.
Mrs. White provided background to the group about how the concept for the coalitions began and how the groups are funded. She said the state’s group started with $65,000 and was able to form 33 coalitions in five years. She said the result was youth alcohol and drug use started going down faster in the state than across the nation.
She said she then found someone in Kentucky who had written a successful grant to write one for Tennessee. The state received a $12.75 million federal grant over a five-year period to teach coalitions and the state government “how to do prevention better on the local and the state level.” Tennessee then became one of four states to receive a follow-up grant worth $12 million, with the possibility of an incentive grant.
She said to make a change in alcohol and drug use, residents will need to change the way alcohol and drugs are looked at. Rules will have to change and how they are enforced will have to change. She used smoking as an example. She said the likelihood of adults smoking today is lower than in the past because the rules were changed — they can’t smoke in restaurants, in government buildings or even at their office desks. In most cases, smokers have to go outside if they want to smoke.
“What we want is for the community to say what they stand for — healthy children, healthy families, jobs, quality of life, quality of work, quality of interaction — so there is a measurable change in the community,” Mrs. White said.
“If you decide to have a coalition, your perspective will change. You probably won’t get money right away. You do have some help from Weakley County who has laid the groundwork. And, you’re more likely to get money because you’re working together with Weakley County,” she said, adding she doesn’t know where the money will come from.
She encouraged the group to formulate a plan. She said she has yet to go to a community which had set a goal plan, whether the community did or did not get a grant, and that plan not be accomplished. She used a Nashville community as an example, saying the group was able to accomplish the goal plan without any money.
The local coalition, she said, will need members from 12 sectors of the community. They include healthcare professionals; schools and higher education; law enforcement and criminal justice agencies; state, local and tribal governments; businesses; youth; parents; media; youth-serving organizations; faith and fraternal organizations; civic and volunteer groups; and other substance abuse organizations.
For more information about the forming of a coalition in Obion County or to volunteer, call Mrs. Townes at (731) 571-4179 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 9.2.10