By any other name
The ACC (Ajo Community Coalition) became ASAP (Ajo Substance Abuse Prevention) and now has moved on to a name that should stick. SAPE (Substance Abuse Prevention & Education Coalition). Under the umbrella of Arizona Youth Partnership, substance abuse prevention work has been going on in Ajo for over twenty years. And this is the second coalition formed to address substance abuse issues. The first was HOPE. (Having Opportunities for Positive Experiences), a group led by Norma Gomez.
Catherine Ecker, AZYP Community Development Coordinator, facilitates the newest coalition and has been working for the past year to recruit community members and organizations who are willing to commit to the cause. The work is grant-funded via Cenpatico Integrated Care and AHCCCS and is a member of a Nationally- recognized group known as CADCA. (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) CADCA defines coalitions as a formal arrangement for collaboration among groups or sectors of a community, in which each group retains its identity but all agree to work together toward the common goal of a safe, healthy and drug-free community. Coalitions should have deep connections to the local community and serve as catalysts for reducing local substance abuse rates. As such, community coalitions are not prevention programs or traditional human service organizations that provide direct services. Rather they are directed by local residents and sector representatives who have a genuine voice in determining the best strategies to address Ajo’s unique problems.
Why community coalitions? Throughout the United States, community coalitions make a significant difference. Local coalitions continue to change the way that American communities respond to the threats of illegal drugs, alcohol abuse and tobacco use. By mobilizing the entire community—parents, teachers, youth, police, health care providers, faith communities, business and civic leaders and others—communities can transform themselves. “This is a model of success that has had a huge positive impact upon the communities in which it has been implemented,” says Ecker. “The key is to get community input and membership from a variety of people and organizations so that many minds come together to have open and honest dialogue about ways to locally address our very real problem of substance abuse and addiction.”
The next SAPE Coalition meeting will be held Wednesday June 28th, 2017 from 1 to 2 pm- immediately following the monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting and in the Curley school Modular office space just East of the Sonoran Desert conference Center.