Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Rockland/Westchester) announced Wednesday that two groups from Rockland County were among 10 local organizations that will receive a combined $1.325 million in federal grants for youth anti-substance abuse programs.“If we are going to have healthy communities and thriving families, we must help our youth avoid the pitfalls of substance abuse,” said Lowey, the senior Democrat of the House Appropriations Committee. “It is exciting news that our federal government is investing in local initiatives to engage the community to help keep our children safe from the dangers of drugs and alcohol.”
All 10 groups received $125,000, including South Orangetown Community Awareness of Substance Abuse (SOCASA) and OCADA, Inc, which serves Nyack, Upper Grandview and Valley Cottage.
"We're so excited," said Susan Maher, Co-Director of Wellcore, the parent company for SOCASA which has mentored and helped develop OCADA.
Vicki Shaw, also a co-director of Wellcore, explained that this is the fifth year SOCASA has received the Drug Free Grant and the first year for OCADA. She said that the grant is typically a five-year commitment, though the organization must re-apply each year.She explained that recipients of the grant also become eligible for additional federal aid.
"It will bring a minimum of $625,000 into the community specifically for drug and alcohol education and prevention," Shaw said. "Once the community is a DFC recipient, once they've got the grant, that opens it up for them to apply for specific drug and alcohol grants that no one else can apply for."
Shaw said the money is used in a variety of ways, from online communities that supply information and other resources, newsletters, signs, parent education nights and alternative activities for youth that will be drug and alcohol free. They also work with local politicians to help create policy changes. For one example, see this report on Patch regarding a bill sponsored in the New York State Assembly by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee.
"We are trying to change attitudes so we can change behavior," Shaw said.
In New York’s 17th Congressional District, ten local initiatives were awarded grants, including:
- City of White Plains ($125,000);
- South Orangetown Community Awareness of Substance Abuse ($125,000)
- Mount Kisco Drug & Alcohol Prevention Council ($125,000)
- Cortlandt Community Coalition ($125,000)
- Ossining Communities That Care ($125,000)
- Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth ($125,000);
- Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth ($75,000), for a mentoring program for the new North Castle Community Coalition
- Croton Community Coalition ($125,000)
- Port Chester Cares Community Coalition ($125,000)
- Blind Brook Community Coalition ($125,000)
- OCADA, Inc. ($125,000), which serves Central Nyack, Nyack, South Nyack, Upper Grandview, Upper Nyack, and Valley Cottage.