As the number of Rockland youths involved in alcohol and drugs rise, different parts of the community are coming together to find a solution.
On Tuesday morning, about 30 people representing different organizations and groups in Rockland county gathered for a round table discussion hosted by Rockland County Coalition of Drug Free Schools and Communities (RCDFSC). The purpose was to partner with regional coalitions, prevention agencies, governmental agencies, law enforcement, schools, etc. to support and help coordinate county-wide initiatives.
“We’ve been looking to revamp things and the best way to do this is to have a round table discussion,” said Shari Ovadia of RCDFSC and Assistance counselor at Clarkstown North HS.
“There are so many good resources in the county, but we’re not aware of all of them,” said Jeanne Andrews of RCDFSC. “Every organization peaks and wanes. We’re trying to get the word out that there is a county-wide coalition in Rockland and hopefully, on a broader scale, make the larger community aware of the coalition and support our efforts so we can exponentially increase what we do.”
She added that the local efforts in the separate school districts, police departments and non-profits should band together to join ideas and resources.
“How do we get a county-wide (effort)? We’re all doing our thing in our community, but I would like to see us come together. It would be much more effective,” said Lisa Retallack of Nyack Center and OCADA.
The round table took place at the Nanuet office of RCADD (Rockland Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Dependence, Inc.) and included
- police officers from different police departments—Clarkstown, Orangetown, Piermont and Rockland County Drug Task Force;
- representatives from districts around the county—Clarkstown, Nanuet, Pearl River, South Orangetown, Nyack, Ramapo, Suffern, Rockland BOCES, Etc;
- members of non-profit organizations and government agencies—Rockland Recovery Services, Rockland Mental Health Department, CANDLE, Clarkstown Community Task Force, Reality Check, OCADA etc …
“We do a lot of education and prevention programs,” said Mike O’Shea, Police Chief of the Piermont Police Department and director of the Piermont PAL. “What I would like to do is see how the police chiefs can help and support this program. We would like to sponsor training and work with groups.”
The other focus of the round table meeting was to recruit new members. RCDFSC meets once a month on the second Tuesday at 10 – 11 a.m. at RCADD’s office. Rockland Bakery and Shoprite donated refreshments.
RCDFSC is a network of professionals and community members focusing on underage drinking and drug use in our schools and communities. The coalition shares information, educates the community and provides resources related to these issues. The organization was founded in 1990 and has gone under several name changes.
RCDFSC started a Pride Survey that collects data on alcohol and drug use among students. It’s done every three years in grades 5, 8 and 10. RCDFSC also started the voluntary keg registration and later helped pass the NYS keg regulations.
Round Table Discussions
One purpose of the meeting was to stress the importance of pooling resources and ideas for a better chance at receiving funding.
There are 12 sectors in the community that, when combined, “can make an impact and change norms in a culture and the ways people think,” said Vickie Shaw of South Orangetown Community Awareness of Substance Abuse.
- Youth-serving organizations
- Law enforcement
- Healthcare professional
- State, Local branches
- Governmental agency with expertise in substance abuse
“The funding is a hard and tricky part,” said Shaw. “Some of the sectors can get grants that another sector cannot.” She added that collaborations across sectors can create effective change and open groups to new resources and connections.
“This is not one part of a community’s problem. It’s the entire community’s problem,” said Lorette Adams, Chairperson at Clarkstown Coalition for Youth, Inc. and Chairperson at Clarkstown Community Task Force. “Unless everyone addresses the needs of the community, you will not be able to perpetuate change.”
Ruth Bowles, Executive Director of RCADD, said that Westchester’s coalition is a “well-oiled wheel” and has gotten a lot of funding “and we can do that here too (in Rockland).”
“We’ve done a great job in the county as far as assessment goes with the Pride Survey and now with United Way. We have a lot of data. Now the next move in the framework is to build capacity,” said Bowles.
“Westchester was way behind us (in terms of getting grants), but they created a coordinated effort from the beginning,” said Adams. “Westchester has now surpassed Rockland County because we have stagnated a little bit for a number of years. We would like to get over that stagnation and rebuild again.”
Check back with Patch for more on their discussion topics, such as Unstung Heroes, "Only 2 Forms of ID Will Do" to purchase Alcohol, Safe Prom initiatives and more.