U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth announced recently that $250,000 in federal funding will assist two eighth district organizations, one of them being the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Elgin and the other is the Link Together Coalition in Buffalo Grove, in the effort to prevent and reduce underage substance abuse.
The Drug-Free Communities Support program, which is administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will pay both organizations $125,000.
“Youth drug abuse is a nationwide public health crisis, and I’m glad to announce this funding to help address it in the Eighth District,” said Congresswoman Duckworth in a news release. “This is an important investment in saving lives, but we can and must do more to fully address our nation’s drug crisis. I’ll continue working with members on both sides of the aisle to fully fund drug abuse programs, including the opioid overdose reduction programs the House recently passed in a bipartisan compromise, so that they can more effectively prevent needless deaths across our state and country.”
In Congress, Duckworth has worked to address our nation’s drug abuse crisis, and is an original cosponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, the release said.
In July, she voted to support a bipartisan opioid overdose reduction compromise.
That measure would help address the opioid epidemic across our nation by changing prescription and pain management practices, expanding access to treatment like opioid overdose reversal drugs and medication-assisted treatment as well as requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to better manage and track the use of opioids by Veterans undergoing treatment, the release said.
Katlyn Regan, drug-free community coordinator for the Renz Center, said it brings great meaning knowing federal funding was granted for the program in Elgin.
“It’s very exciting because this grant is different in that it addresses the entire community, not just community youth,” she said. “It’s here to serve the entire community. As far as we know, it hasn’t been done before.”
Renz Center staff began the application process in 2015.
Regan said they applied a couple times before they received funding.
The first installment of the five-year grant schedule was rendered beginning Sept. 2015 and will conclude in Sept. 2016.
“Year one was a lot about training and strategic planning,” Regan said. “That way, we don’t have to go back to our logic model and start all over.”
One initiative the program undertook recently allowed for the start of a sticker program, to help reinforce positive messages among those who read them.
“Activities like that bring substance abuse to the forefront of everyone’s minds,” she said. “(It’s) that friendly reminder that can be made year-round in a positive way. We don’t have to wait until something tragic happens.”
Regan said that locally, “the reality is most of our youth is safe and healthy.”
She explained that the more we celebrate that, the stronger the community will be.
Part of receiving the grant funding requires the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Elgin to collect data and use the information drive the program’s efforts.
“This year was a total restructuring,” Regan said. “It’s going to take up a majority of our efforts. It’s been a lot of behind-the-scenes. We’re going to be launching our website by October or the end of the year.”
That site, once it goes live, will feature resources specific to the region the agency serves.
“We’re excited that we’ll have prevention resources that it isn’t just taken from the National Institute of Drug Abuse [and other national-level organizations],” Regan said. “This year we’ve worked hard to make sure people know we’re a local resource.”