By Mary O’KEEFE
The Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition was informed Tuesday it had been awarded a federal grant of over $100,000 for five years.
“We are thrilled,” said Nancy Stone, vice president of the coalition.
The grant is part of the Drug Free Communities Support Program issued through the White House National Drug Control Policy in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
“The program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate citizen participation in local youth drug prevention efforts,” according to the DFC press release. There were 170 new grants awarded with only 12 in California.
“We will be getting a package in the mail on Sept. 29 that will officially notify us of the grant,” said Howard Hakes, coalition president.
Hakes added he has been getting phone calls and emails of congratulations from everyone who has been supportive since the coalition began including law enforcement and school officials.
“Michele Doll [principal of Crescenta Valley High School] is very excited to partner with us,” Hakes said. “Some goods things will come out of this grant. Hopefully we can have long term prevention instead of just a few [temporary] programs.”
The coalition began less than a year ago with a few parents and Glendale Officer Matt Zakarian. They met in a basement classroom at CVHS.
“I truly believe the success of this grant and our group is a testimony to the Glendale Police Department and specifically to Officer Matt Zakarian, Officer Joe Allen and Officer Joel Schoonmaker,” said Susan Dubin, one of the parents at the first meeting. “When I had a problem, these officers showed genuine care and concern and we started brainstorming together. Officer Zakarian took the lead in getting a few parents together to discuss issues and solutions. The first few meetings were four parents and two officers in the basement of CV High School trying to figure out how to help each other.
“Officer Zakarian kept driving the meetings and encouraging us to reach out to other parents and share our difficult stories. His initiative in finding resources is amazing. During many meetings, an idea would be tossed out and in a few clicks of his Blackberry at the next meeting [we] had a drug expert or a representative from the school or DA’s office to speak. Officer Zakarian used his community knowledge and contacts to bring in the right group of leaders to grow our discussion group into what it is today, a federally funded Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition.”
Dubin is an executive board member of the coalition and leads the parent resource sessions with family therapist Pam Erdman.
“Michele [Doll] has secured 35 sessions with Pam for this year,” Dubin added.
The Glendale Unified School District provides the funding for these more personal sessions between Erdman and parents. The Crescenta-Cañada YMCA donates a room every Tuesday night for the meetings. It gives parents from CVHS, Rosemont, Clark and elementary schools an opportunity to discuss drug, alcohol and other issues they may be facing with their children in a confidential support group setting.
For a complete schedule of the meetings visit our website at www.cvweekly.com.
The coalition has monthly meetings when they work closely with school officials and Deputy Scott Shinagawa, school resource officer. The deputy and school staff are available to answer questions from the public.
Glendale chief of police Ron DePompa has also been supportive of the coalition.
“[The grant] is pretty exciting news,” DePompa said.
DePompa established area commands where officers would work in one specific area. They have become very familiar with the community and its youth. It is through this program that Zakarian, Allen and Lt. Ian Grimes have been able to become active in the coalition.
The community officers see firsthand, sometimes even before parents, the problems and trends kids are dealing with in the area, DePompa said.
The parents who met in those first meetings shared their stories and made suggestions of what needed to be done. This grant will help some of those suggestions become reality.
There has been some disagreement within the foothill community by those who think there is a real substance abuse problem in the Crescenta Valley and those who do not, however the coalition has always promoted education and proactive programs.
Since the coalition started the drug conversation, counseling sessions with Erdman have begun, CVHS now has volunteer drug testing and parents are encouraged anew to speak with their children on these difficult issues.
One of the goals of the coalition has been to start a youth center where kids can go to be with other kids in a safe environment. That center is in the planning stages now with the support and partnership with St. Luke’s of the Mountains.
At its foundation the coalition is an example of community support and volunteerism, Hakes said.
“There have been huge successes, a few setbacks and tears along the way” Dubin said, “but the community is more aware, stronger and now has a sustainable resource and partnership in place.”
The Coalition says ‘thanks’
The Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition would like to thank the 12 community partners who helped them receive their government grant. The funds will allow the continuation and expansion of outreach programs and education.
They represent sectors of the community from law enforcement to civic organizations.
Erika Suzuki, youth representative.
Susan Dubin, parent representative.
Robbyn Battles from Battles Real Estate, business representative.
Robin Goldsworthy from Crescenta Valley Weekly, media representative.
Linda Evans from CV High School, Michele Doll from Rosemont Middle School and Sally Myles from Glendale Unified School District representing the schools.
Kim Beattie from YMCA of the Foothills representing youth-serving organizations.
Matt Zakarian from Glendale Police Department and Capt. Dave Silversparre from L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
Cheryl Davis from CV Town Council and Mary O’Keefe from Prom Plus representing civic or volunteer groups.
Lisa Kessedjian from Verdugo Hills Hospital representing healthcare professionals.
Anna Phillips of L.A. County district attorney’s office representing state or local government.
Camille Levee from Glendale Healthy Kids and Alex Woo from Korea Glendale Sister City Assoc. representing organizations involved in reducing substance abuse.
Rev. Bryan Jones from St. Luke’s of the Mountains representing a religious organization.