Navajo County Anti-Drug Coalition wraps up a highly successful 2007

HOLBROOK-Navajo County Coalition Against Drug Abuse addressed more than 10,000 residents and achieved widespread media coverage in 2007, raising the county awareness of the methamphetamine abuse epidemic in which Navajo County ranks top in the state.

Professional volunteers, volunteers in recovery and county inmates participated in reality based presentations to more than 4,800 Navajo County students spanning from Holbrook to Blue Ridge. Other outreach programs and displays to nearly 5,000 citizens spanned from fairs to small group presentations. Town halls in six major population centers addressed more than 500 participants, beginning in September 2006.

Through presentations, more than 45,000 pieces of educational, informational and promotional literature and materials were distributed. Additionally, more than 30,000 column inches of print media coverage was achieved, along with at least 15 hours of radio public service announcements.

Operating on a $30,000 state grant, the Coalition subsidized its operational funding by establishing a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, Friends of the Coalition, which raised more than $9,000 in the last half of the year. Contributers included the Pinetop-Lakeside township, Southwest Trading Post, Mary Jeanne Munroe, Friends of CASA, Mr. and Mrs. Picard, Cellular One, St. Mary of the Angles, Francis and Mary Labbiola, Debe Betts, Summit Healthcare, Cool Pines Church, Show Low Police union, Hondah, Navajo County Board of Supervisors and Linda Morrow.

The Friends of the Coalition were instrumental in funding two major programs for the year. The Junior Leadership Academy, in conjunction with Navajo County Superintendent of Schools, Juvenile Probation and Blue Ridge Unified School District, conducted a two-week camp for juvenile probationers and youth at risk. The summer program focused on academic and personal skills building, goal setting, teamwork, drug awareness and making good choices.

In conjunction with the town of Pinetop-Lakeside, the Coalition and Friends held a September area drug summit in Taylor. Attended by 125 regional leaders, participants addressed drug-related issues in their respective communities, brain-storming problems, barriers and solutions. Thereafter, leaders returned to their communities to implement solutions. To date, Heber-Overgaard and Snowflake schools have conducted student presentations and Pinetop-Lakeside has convened Pinetop-Lakeside Advocates Against Drugs (PLAAD) to address issues highlighted at the summit.

The Coalition was awarded competitive state grant funding for community projects to be carried out in 2007 and 2008. The $15,000 Alcohol Mapping grant utilized youth and teacher supervisors to map alcohol retailers in six county communities.

Concluding at the end of January, the project aids state statistics and demographics for underage drinking. Awarded in mid-December, the $8,000 Martin Luther King grant will fund four community activities designed to encourage volunteerism and poverty eradication. These projects, which kick off Jan. 21, require Coalition member participation and further community volunteerism and activism.

Further for 2008, the Coalition looks to continue its youth education efforts-starting with Winslow High School in late January-as well as focusing on corporate programs. Making available supervisor and employee programs for companies large and small, the Coalition looks to expand its educational efforts at a community social level. A dedicated Web site is under construction for debut in the first quarter. Sustainability will continue to be an issue as the Coalition, through grant applications and through Friends fund-raising, works to finance its operational, educational and community programs.

For further information on the Coalition, contact navcoantimeth@gmail.com or visit www.co.navajo.az.us/courts/drug.aspx.

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