After a few years most successful coalitions have either slowed down in their efforts or at least leveled off in their achievements. That is NOT true of SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment). SAFE continues to "raise the bar". I believe that one reason for SAFE's continuing success is due to this being a true coalition. It is a living organization that is not built on personality or achievemets. The leadership is strong, the vision is clear and the mission is being accomplished.
Substance Abuse Free Environment executes goal oriented initiatives to inform young people about substance abuse and to prevent drug abuse among young people in Chesterfield County, Virginia. G. Wayne Frith, Executive Director, works on and off the clock including weekends to ensure the budget, planning, and correspondence of daily detail runs smoothly for the precise execution of the mission of S.A.F.E. These details include providing Board Members with up to date information on S.A.F.E., providing S.A.F.E. members with informative information of the status of young people in Chesterfield County, Va., describing the level of substance abuse in Chesterfield County, Va., and communicating with prestigious colleges and universities in Virginia. Monica Mastro, Administrative Assistant, diligently organizes, records, and informs S.A.F.E. members’ daily, and she keeps colleagues abreast of current affairs internally and externally. Carol Szakmary, Events Coordinator, schedules S.A.F.E. events and interacts with the community allowing an exchange of information between S.A.F.E and the community. Regina Whitsett, SPF-SIG Coordinator, is a joy to work with. Regina, manages, analyzes, and conducts community surveys of young people in the schools to evaluate the status of young people and substance abuse. Regina plays a crucial role in survey/statistical obtainment of S.A.F.E. along with other members of the S.A.F.E community. Maya Brewer, Community Coordinator, provides a healthy contact/connection and sharing of information between both faith based communities as well as non-faith based communities and S.A.F.E.
S.A.F.E. has sponsored many drug take back events in Chesterfield County, collecting several hundred pounds worth of drugs from the community. S.A.F.E. has sponsored mentoring programs, parent and child programs, and information programs at schools for children and families lowering substance abuse among young people in Chesterfield County. S.A.F.E. has attracted members of the White House as a result of the excellence S.A.F.E. has produced in its efforts to reduce substance abuse among young people in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
Having been involved with SAFE for more than 10 years, it is truly gratifying to see thepositive impact this coalition has had on our community, both local, statewide and at the national level. SAFE has continually seized opportunities to address substance abuse issues in our community, and involve community members and businesses in the partnership. Through data collection and analysis, seeking community input and providing community based education, SAFE has served as a role model throughout the area for making change happen.
Substance Abuse Free Environment is the type of non-profit that every community needs and wants! Through the careful study and analysis of data - this organization is geared to develop environmental strategies that will bring focus, activity and results to the identified problem/issue. From reducing the number of retail outlets that sell alcohol to underage buyers to joining with industry partners to reduce access to inhalents (freon)- SAFE produces change for the betterment of our community.
As a concerned community partner from pubic health and now a Board member, I have been involved with SAFE for at least five years. During that time I have been inspired by the member's commitment to protecting and improving the health of our youths and the community through substance abuse prevention efforts. Using knowledge gained from community assessments, passionate individuals have strived to promote and implement environmental strategies for substance abuse prevention, making great strides in positively impacting underage drinking, inlalant use and prescription drug use. SAFE is a dynamic organization that exemplifies, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world...indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." (Margaret Meade)
I first got involved with SAFE through my job. I soon found out that the SAFE Coalition actually got things done. They "put feet to their words". Because of the way this coalition worked I had a desire to become a board member.
One of the things that has impressed me is the way that every member is valued for what they can bring to the table no matter how small or large the contribution. Safe is effective at revealing the fact that everyone has something to offer. They truely show that through teamwork we can all make a difference.
This coalition has done it's homework through the years. Using bench marking, assessment tools and innovative approaches SAFE is able to address many substance abuse issues. After addressing issues SAFE is quick to review, evaluate and share data.
Thanks to SAFE's leadership many of us have been more effective at weaving prevention into all aspects of our lives.
I became involved with SAFE at the invitation of the Executive Director- who had the vision of involving as many partners as he could to be involved with SAFE and more importantly, its mission. Reaching out to an adjacent locality enabled my Coalition to partner with and learn from SAFE's expertise. SAFE has been a leader in the state around issues of Inhalent Abuse prevention, bringing speakers to the community who are experts and who have been personally touched by this troubling problem.
SAFE's work on prevention of underage alcohol abuse has employed effective environmental strategies that are making a difference in the health of our community.
Fifteen years ago, as part of my job responsibilities, I was assigned to be my agency's representative to what has now become SAFE. Initially, I remember thinking "what am I doing here?". During the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of working as a volunteer, board member, and board chair, and have witnessed the tremendous growth of SAFE and the positive impact it has had on our community. Thanks to the efforts of SAFE, we have been able to obtain youth survey data that has shocked our community into taking actions to protect our youth. Several initiatives related to inhalant abuse prevetion have not only benefitted our local community, but have been utilized throughout the state and country.
SAFE's efforts to engage the community continue to occur, involving youth, parents, community agencies and local businesses.
I now no longer ask "what am I doing here?".......I now look at what SAFE has been able to accomplish in a relatively short time frame and think "how great that I've been able to play a small role in seeing my community become a better place for our youth!"
The new National Prevention Strategy states that "prevention should be woven into all aspects our our lives, including where and how we live, learn, work and play." Chesterfield SAFE works tirelessly to make that concept a reality in Chesterfield County. SAFE initiatives have contributed to a measurable decrease in inhalant use in our county and an increase in retailer compliance in not selling alcohol to underage buyers. SAFE is proactive in identifying and addressing substance related risk factors in our community.