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Prevention Coalition – Members essential to success

By Christy Smith

Today, I want to talk about Unicoi County Prevention Coalition stakeholders, members and volunteers. On many occasions I have been asked: Who should be a part of the Coalition? How can I become a member? Can I volunteer for events?

The Coalition seeks anyone in the community who wants to become a member. The broader the membership the better. It is essential to have leaders in the community to be a member of any coalition.

Stakeholders are people who have a stake in the Coalition. They are people who may be most affected by the issue of substance abuse. Stakeholders are also helpers and want to carry out community efforts. Several stakeholders in Unicoi County include Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely, Terry Roller with Roller Pharmacy, Dr. Chris Bogart at UCHS, Jamie Hensley with Unicoi County Health Department, Maria True with LiveWire/WXIS, Debbie Tittle, Erwin Police Department, Renae Tipton with CHIPS, Melanie Feathers with CASA, Brandy Lewis with UETHDA Headstart, Sharon Price, SADD Students, Frank Cooke from YMCA, and Heatherly Sifford with Ballad Health Outreach. These stakeholders constantly work with the coalition at events, through media campaigns, and in programs within the county.

Members of the Coalition include stakeholders but also community leaders and policymakers. The Coalition members include youth, clergy, business leaders, social services, mental health, health providers, and judicial courts. It is important to note that members influence community efforts and programs. Members aid the Coalition in programs like support groups, community events, distributing resource guides, providing ideas and policies to decrease substance abuse in youth, and promote parenting classes, tobacco cessation classes, and diversion programs for youth.

The Coalition always needs volunteers. Volunteers are essential to fulfilling Coalition mission and programs. Youth are always welcome to volunteer. Since youth need to complete volunteer hours for scholarships, the coalition is always open to youth volunteers. Without volunteers the Coalition would not be effective in its outreach. Volunteers help tremendously in events, community outreach, and communications.

The Coalition wants to reach every organization and community in our county. We want to educate and prevent substance abuse among youth. We want to bring awareness to mental health, suicide, trauma, harm reduction, and stigma that is often associated with substance abuse. If you want to become a member of the Coalition please call me at 735-8407 or come to our next meeting.

The Coalition will meet on Thursday, Sept. 10, at noon at our office at 105 Rock Creek Road Ste.4. 

Next time, we will talk about substance abuse forums in our community. Until then, be safe and stay healthy.