The Hunterdon County Safe Communities Coalition received the Coalition of the Year Award from CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), the nation’s leading substance use prevention organization. The Coalition of the Year award is part of CADCA’s GOT OUTCOMES! award program, which gives national recognition to exemplary coalitions that have clearly documented their impact on population-level substance use outcomes. This award is given to one out of 5,000 community coalitions across the nation that works to prevent substance use. The Hunterdon County Safe Communities Coalition received this prestigious award on Feb. 9 during CADCA’s 2017 National Leadership Forumat the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
“We congratulate the Hunterdon County Safe Communities Coalition on their outstanding work and for being true leaders in the field of substance use prevention. Our CADCA GOT OUTCOMES! winners exemplify the excellent work that coalitions are doing around the country to prevent and reduce drug use in their communities,” said Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA’s Chairman and CEO.
To achieve success, coalitions have to determine effective solutions to substance use in their community. For example, Hunterdon County Safe Communities Coalition has established a collective, collaboration effort in conjunction with law enforcement, schools, businesses, medical staff, prevention groups, treatment organizations, government, faith leaders, parents and youth. When working to expand safe prescription drug disposal in the county, the coalition worked efficiently alongside realtors, pharmacies, ER, funeral homes and hospice care facilities. The coalition’s activities are managed by four separate work groups to target:
- Underage drinking
- Prescription and illegal drugs
”The Coalition has worked very hard over the last eight years to achieve these long-term outcomes of substance use reduction. We have great members and community partners that have been instrumental to our success. We would like to recognize and thank all of our members, past and present, who work tirelessly to make a difference; with special recognition to our Hunterdon County Prosecutor, Anthony Kearns; Hunterdon County Chief of Detectives, John Kuczynski; Chief of Police, Sebastian Donaruma; Hunterdon County Sherriff, Fred Brown; Undersheriff, Robert Smith; Hunterdon County Law Enforcement; Hunterdon Central School and Administrators; Faith Leaders (One Voice); Hunterdon County Freeholders; Assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli; Assemblyman, Eric Peterson; Assemblywoman, Donna Simon; Senator Kip Bateman; Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce; Hunterdon Healthcare; Shoprite Regional Pharmacies; Stop and Shop Pharmacy; and the Clinton Pharmacy. Their partnership, innovative ideas, and collaborative efforts are the key to success for our coalition,” said Lesley Gabel, Safe Communities Coalition Project Director and Co-CEO, Hunterdon Prevention Resources.
“To be able to meet with other coalitions from across the country and speak of our successes here in Hunterdon County NJ, was very rewarding. Our community has really come together, especially in the last few years to address youth substance use, and the fact that our 30 day use rates for alcohol and marijuana have decreased so much, is really a testament that prevention works, and that all teens are not inevitably going to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. It was a very proud day for Hunterdon County and the Safe Communities Coalition” said Peggy Dowd, Coalition Coordinator.
The GOT OUTCOMES! Coalition of Excellence Award recognizes coalitions that achieve measurable success in community-level substance-use related outcomes by implementing a comprehensive and feasible plan guided by local data. Applicants choose from three separate categories based on the substance use-related outcomes achieved and begin a rigorous two-phase application process requiring them to clearly communicate their story and contribution to community-level outcomes.
“It is very affirming to know that all the hard work and initiatives of this 80-member strong coalition had such significant positive health results for Hunterdon County; this just proves that a collective voice is stronger than one voice,” said Karen Widico, Co-CEO, Hunterdon Prevention Resources.
Within the coalition, activities and policies have been enacted for youth and adults, including the enactment of a youth diversion policy and program, drug and alcohol school policy changes, teen safety nights, the creation and implementation of S.T.A.R.T. (Steps to Action Recovery and Treatment) Policy, expansion of prescription drug permanent drop boxes throughout the county, marijuana toolkits for parents, youth coalition education for younger kids on vaping, and numerous community conversations around heroin. In addition, the coalition has received the Dose of Prevention Award and CADCA’s Coalition Milestone Award in previous years.
“Very proud to be a part of a coalition that worked together with community partners to implement policy changes that led to a reduction of vaping incidences in our High School” said Jerri Collevechio, Senior Director. “By supporting our youth in prevention and community initiatives with our Youth Coalition (HCYC), we also help to ensure safer environments, improved education and awareness, skill building, and ultimately, long-term success of youth refraining from substance use”, added Amy Menes, Lead Project Specialist.
The Hunterdon County Safe Communities Coalition was founded in 2003 and has worked hard over the years to build capacity, change policies, and improve the evaluation process so that they could make a greater impact on the community. This award signifies the continuous efforts to improve as a coalition to deliver even greater positive community-level changes and would not be possible without the funding we receive from the NJ Division of Mental Health and Addition Services and Substance Abuse Mental Health Addiction Services, Drug Free Communities Program.