By Jason KUROUS
The Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition, which was formed a year ago in order to curtail teenage drug and alcohol use in the community, has named its new executive director David Marquez. Marquez was previously the executive director of Central City Neighborhood Partners, a nonprofit organization focused on various community and youth issues in central Los Angeles, such as gang violence, teen pregnancies, school attendance and employment.
While the central focus of the Coalition is the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, Marquez elaborated on the goals of the Coalition and his goals as executive director through the lens of the community.
“The Coalition is about community building,” Marquez said. “My goal, the same as the Coalition’s goal, is to implement environmental strategies to reduce the availability of drugs and alcohol to our youth in the Crescenta Valley community.”
His emphasis on community is key in his strategy to reduce drug use.
“A lot of groups try to achieve their goals separately, but we’re going to plan and work together with law enforcement and youth organizations.”
Along with trying to reduce the current availability of drugs and alcohol to teens, Marquez and the Coalition are using a prevention and intervention approach.
“We want to change norms.”
This includes programs such as Prom Plus and other alcohol-free programs, along with increasing education on these subjects in schools, town hall meetings and through newsletters.
The Coalition has grown in terms of its resources since its inception. In September, the Coalition received a federal grant after being chosen by the Office of National Drug Control Policy for its efforts in reducing substance abuse. The grant ensures up to $625,000 over five years.
“My job is to strengthen the capacity of the Coalition to effectively meet its goals and objectives as prescribed by the Drug Free Communities Grant, and create additional opportunities for Coalition Partners to succeed,” said Marquez. “It is a shared vision.”
The Coalition introduced Marquez, officially, to the public in a meeting held on Feb. 10 at the La Crescenta Library. Newly elected president of the Coalition Matt Zakarian told the audience of the coalitions beginning.
He explained how he had met with parents who had children that had some drug issues. Together they began to grow and include more of the communtity who were concerned about drugs and alcohol influencing children in Crescenta Valley.
The Coalition has had educational forums and has helped in the formation of programs for adults and teens. By partnering with Glendale Unified School District they offer parent education/counciling with family counsellor Pam Erdman every Tuesday night beginning at 7 p.m. at the Crescenta Cañada YMCA. The program is overseen by Coalition secretary Susan Dubin. They have also partnered with St. Luke’s of the Mountains to open The Fire House a youth center. Now the Coalition is looking to the future with the help and guidance from Marquez.
“We interviewed over 60 candidates [for the director position] and David impressed us with his background in non-profit expirience,” said Nancy Stone, Coalition’s first vice president. “We are hoping he can help build strong alliances and community partnerships.”