By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse Orleans officials were pleased to more than 40 representatives from local schools, businesses, governments, community groups and law enforcement agencies at their most recent United Drug Free Communities Coalition meeting.
It’s a strong group committed to providing an environment where children and teens find support for lives free of substance abuse and misuse. One that has grown over the past four years. It received $125,000 grant for the next year, continuing the annual backing from the federal government.
But year five is the big one, as the next funding round is for five final years. This year, progress must be made to ensure the growing program gets funded for the next five years.
”We’re working hard to get to years six to ten,” DFC Project Director Pat Crowley said. “It’s a crucial year for funding.”
That’s why the coalition intends to bring in younger voices when they meet again in December.
According to Crowley, schools are the key to future growth. Superintendents from several local schools were at the coalition’s fall quarterly meeting, held at Tillman’s Village Inn in Gaines. Student partnerships already established in some districts, like the Students United for Positive Change in Medina and Albion.
”The biggest missing ingredient is our youth,” Medina Superintendent Jeff Evoy said at the coalition’s fall quarterly meeting. “They can take leadership positions.”
Students from those groups will participate at the coalition’s Dec. 13 meeting, to be held at the Hoag Library in Albion.
”Everyone needs a voice,” Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Community Specialist Diana Fulcomer said.
At the September meeting, community leaders discussed how to address the issues surrounding the coalition — all were youth based. Getting them involved was a frequent topic.
”We want to know that we can do to keep youth alcohol and drug free,” Fulcomer said. “We need to take our concerns and continue these conversations — and take action.”