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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment, Inc.)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention

Mission: SAFE engages our community in working together to prevent substance abuse.

Results: Some of SAFE's successes include a decrease in inhalant abuse among eighth-graders by 63% since 2005, from twice the national average to well below it. SAFE has partnered with air conditioning companies, who have installed over 2,500 free locking caps on A/C units to prevent huffing of refrigerant. SAFE's compliance checks initiative has led to a 75% reduction in alcohol sales to minors.

Target demographics: prevent substance abuse

Geographic areas served: the community of Chesterfield County

Programs: inhalant abuse prevention, marijuana use prevention, underage drinking prevention, alcohol-related crashes prevention,smoking prevention, and prescription drug abuse prevention.

Community Stories

43 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SAFE consists of a collection of utterly different and amazingly talented people all dedicated to the notion that when a community comes together with common values for a common cause, no challenge is too great. The community as well as the staff acted in concert to address substance abuse concerns through strategies proved effective via third party evaluation. When it comes to community action, it doesn't get any better than SAFE.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a High-School student, I find myself overzealous in my efforts in attempt to make a difference in my community. Not only does Chesterfield County SAFE give me the opportunity to do so , but they have also made differences in my life as well. I can truly say that everyone in this organization is just as passionate as I am , if not more, in touching the hearts of those in our community. We bring awareness to the possible detrimental effects that drug usage can have on someones life , mentor youth and serve as a voice for those who may not have one. I grew up without many opportunities , but once I ran into Chesterfield County SAFE I found changes in my life being made , hence , I became even more passionate about impacting the lives of others. If I had to start my journey over with SAFE and relive every moment volunteering or being around its board members, I would with no regrets.SAFE is truly an organization unlike any other.

2 David188

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

First Touch Sports partners with SAFE to reach and teach young people about the dangers of using alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Their Teen Ambassador program is an effective way to use high school students as positive role models for 5th grade students. The youth that we have participating in First Touch Sports look forward to serving as Teen Ambassadors and learn as much as the student they work with. SAFE is also proving to be very forward thinking in their approach to reaching young people through sports. It makes sense to meet people where they are and to help healthy kids get the real facts about use among teens and to stay healthy and avoid peer pressure.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

The Chesterfield Health District Medical Reserve Corps has partnered with Chesterfield SAFE on several projects and most recent the "Keep Your Meds SAFE" campaign. SAFE has proven to be a valuable resource to local communities as well as local government. SAFE is a compassionate non-profit organization that is detailed goal orientated while establishing relationships which is the foundation of a non-profit organization such as SAFE. Keep up the good work!
Tammie

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As the retired medical director of a large state agency involved with mental health and substance abuse treatment and policy, I have been very impressed with Chesterfield SAFE as a group that very thoughtfully provides outreach, education and other services as well as collaboration and coordination with schools, children and parents, law enforcement and the general public. It has been a pleasure to get to know and work with SAFE staff and other volunteers such as myself.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work closely on media outreach programs for a number of Virginia state government agencies. Chesterfield SAFE is a top notch, well organized, and detail-oriented organization. A very active group of coalition members work hard and take great pride in developing solutions that are both cost efficient and effective in communicating with the residents of this community. Chesterfield SAFE truly lives up to the potentially life saving standards implied by their name.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of the things that I love most about SAFE is that they believe in community collaboration. They love connecting and networking with other sectors of the community, i.e. county agencies, schools, faith communities, businesses, the media, non-profits, and the police to create a stronger, healthier environment for all it's citizens. As a recent addition to the SAFE staff, I have been inspired as I have experienced individuals with a variety of strengths bringing what they have to the table to work together. We have volunteers who range in a variety of expertise, age, and cultural backgrounds. And as a result, SAFE's substance abuse free message has a broader, far-reaching impact, not just to Chesterfield County, but also across the metropolitan areas of Richmond. I have never seen a more selfless group of individuals who are willing to see each others' missions succeed in tandem with their own. Now that's what I call a "Great Nonprofit"!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I was previously with a government agency that provided grant funding to community coalitions across the State of Virginia. In this role, I had the opportunity to work with and visit numerous substance abuse prevention coalitions across the state. Many of these organizations were providing valuable services to youth and parents in their communities. However, Substance Abuse Free Environment, Inc. (SAFE) stood out as an exemplary non-profit organization. The coalition engages community partners working collaboratively to effect true, long- lasting community level change through the use of environmental strategies. I was so truly impressed with the staff and the organization's reputation at the federal and state level as evidenced through numerous awards, that I left my state position and am now privileged to be a SAFE staff member serving Chesterfield County and making a difference in my own neighborhood.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Pat and my invovlement with SAFE as a volunteer was educational. SAFE really helped me understand the problems we have with substance abuse in our communities, families and homes. SAFE didn't just make me aware of the problems of substance abuse; they invited me to meetings for feedback, suggestions and person skills to help solve the problems of substance abuse. To me SAFE is an organization that SHOW others what they are about, ACT on what they show and believe , FOLLOW through with support, trainings & resources, and EMBRACE others to help.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a parent volunteer for SAFE since my son was in high school over 10 years ago. It was a hard time. The other community members in SAFE never judged me, welcomed whatever I could offer and gave me hope that together we could build a better substance free community. My son graduated from college several years ago, but I stay involved with SAFE because we are making a difference! Over the years we have used baseline data to make strategic interventions and have outcome data and results that prove we are making our community better for youth and adults.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every good non-profit should have heart, but a GREAT non-profit has many heads and hands. SAFE, Inc is great because SAFE really understands the head part. In other words, everything starts and ends with data. We use data to assess our communities needs and we track our progress. Our hands are busy and always extended to partner with others. People who start volunteering with SAFE stay volunteering because it is so motivating to see the outcome data that shows we made a difference. Every meeting for any subgroup or task force has a clear vision of where they are going based on data. Meetings are punctuated by laughter and people saying, "Hey, what if...?" or "I know someone who can..." Creative ideas are explored, people are respected, and action is taken. As a volunteer who has a full time job, I stay involved with SAFE because not only does this group care, it makes a huge difference for our community. The Awards SAFE has won are nice, but making a difference is the best!

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Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

1

Advisor

Rating: 4

Year after year, ABC provides funding in the way of grant money to organizations leading the fight against underage drinking. Chesterfield SAFE remains in the top tier of grantees across the Commonwealth due to its sound approaches, dedication and results. SAFE works collaboratively with community groups to encourage them to embrace social norms that underage drinking is not okay or acceptable in Chesterfield County. In the last two years, SAFE has completed activities within two primary target markets, parents and alcohol retail outlets. SAFE developed and delivered on three critical objectives as well: Café Conversations, Parent Pods and underage compliance checks. Further, outside the scope of grant funded activities, SAFE constantly works with public schools. law enforcement, and regional media outlets to spread their messages regarding identification, prevention and education of underage drinking signs and dangers. Virginia ABC is fortunate to have such a successful partner in Chesterfield SAFE. If you're reading this review and are intrigued about SAFE's programs, I urge you to check out their website (chesterfieldsafe.org) or contact them for more details.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am the local public health director for Chesterfield County where SAFE resides. I came to Central Virginia in 2010 and not much after I began my work with the health department did I hear and learn about the wonderful work this organization has done over the last several years tackling alcohol abuse, drug abuse and inhalant abuse. I joined one SAFE's community task forces in the spring of 2011 aimed at addressing the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. It was through this effort that I came to know the very few but strong, dedicated and visionary members of this organization that have successfully brought public and private partners, government employees and private citizens, healthcare providers, counselors, and host of other professionals to tackle the rapidly expanding "epidemic" of prescription drug abuse. Through three summits, a continuing education summit for healthcare providers, expanding number of prescription take-backs in the community, SAFE and their partners in just one year have already demonstrated marked success in bringing awareness and education about the dangers of prescription drug abuse to this community. SAFE is truly an impressive organization. With a recipe for success based on the development and use of logic models, community partnerships, and the ability to inspire not just their partners but all community members to take action against substance abuse, this small non-profit has had a huge impact in this community.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am amazed at the incredible impact Substance Abuse Free Environment, Inc., or SAFE, a Chesterfield, VA coalition, has had in reducing inhalant abuse among county youths. SAFE’s Inhalant Abuse Prevention Initiative resulted in past 30-day use among eighth-graders falling from 8.2 percent in 2005 to 4.5 percent in 2007 and to 3.0 percent in 2010. This represents a 63 percent reduction over five years, which is markedly lower than the national average of 4.1 percent. Another successful intitiative included partnering with HVAC companies to install locking caps on air conditioner units to prevent unauthorized access by youths who inhale the refrigerant - which could be deadly. This environmental approach has drawn the attention of the White House - The Office of Drug Control Policy noted this environmental approach in its newsletter. By bringing the community together - county departments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, residents and the faith-based community - initiatives are established that bring positive results. Not only has SAFE helped make county youths safer and healthier, but they have earned international respect and are sought-after speakers on drug-prevention issues. I encourage others to get involved with SAFE.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have worked with SAFE on several levels. My initial contact was a Public Health School nurse, then as a parent and most recently working with our church families and youth. After attending Cafe Conversations as a parent, I felt like the parents in our church would benefit from the message. They helped us start the conversation between teens and parents about substance abuse and healthy choices. We are looking to partner with them again in the spring to implement a Parent Pod. They are truly a community coalition partnering with numerous organizations to help spread their message. They get down to the grass roots level and motivate others to join them in spreading their message. I feel very fortunate to be one of their partners and know my family and community have benefited greatly.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SAFE works across the spectrum of needs of those who have dealt with, are dealing with, or are working to avoid becoming ensnared in the various types of substance abuse. Committed volunteers are the key to the programs and services. It's a great organization and has helped many in the community to have better, substance-abuse-free lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This past summer I worked for SAFE as an intern collecting data about DUI's in our area. The more I researched the more interested I became myself. It was a huge learning experience and it validated the need for an organization like SAFE to dedicate itself to making the public aware and working to make our communities a safer place. SAFE creates programs designed to specific age groups and/or demographics to better inform us about alcohol and substance abuse in general. Once you are aware of the statistics and need for SAFE you will want to support this organization and its commitment to making a difference.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Chesterfield SAFE has had a big impact on the community with the campaign to educate schools and health care professionals about inhalant abuse in Chesterfield. SAFE is now tackling the growing problem of prescription drug abuse by engaging not only the Chesterfiled community, but surrounding communities. I live in Henrico and work in Richmond, and I have seen firsthand the devastation caused by these issues as a healthcare professional. I applaud SAFE for taking the lead with this grassroots movement to educate in a way that can save lives, especially young lives. I am honored to have been invited to participate in their efforts and to be able to help in some way.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SAFE has done a great job in presenting education to providers who prescribe opioids in Chesterfield County. By raising their awareness and by teaching safe prescribing strategies SAFE has not only made strides in establishing best practices for prescribers but also has made the county a safer place in which those in legitimate need of management of chronic pain can receive relief.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

SAFE has accomplished significant inroads in pulling together community partners and county agencies for purposes of identifying needs and gaps in services in addressing substance abusing adolescents. It has provided training on prevention as well as intervention. It has brought together and spearheaded intensive workgroups and summits to address current issues. It is also a very good resource for information.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

SAFE is promoting the important message and doing the important work that support members of my profession helping adolescents in the community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was originally introduced to SAFE a few years ago through an individual that approached me at the annual YADAPP conference, which is something that I have been involved with since high school. My participation began on a small scale - I sat in on a few meetings and worked with the county police on their underage buying program. Before long, though, I was able to commit more time to the organization and thus became involved with the Marketing Committee. Just recently, I began volunteering with the Underage Drinking Task Force, another committee in the organization that is focused on eliminating the underage drinking problem that is so prevalent in our community.

Although I have been involved with SAFE for a relatively short period of time, I have had the wonderful opportunity to see first-hand the dedication and drive that the many members of this organization possess. The executive director, Wayne Frith, is truly passionate about eliminating the substance abuse problems that plague our community and school system, as are the other staff members that comprise SAFE. The campaign against inhalant abuse, which has been recognized on a national level for its effectiveness, was just one of a myriad of ideas that originated within the walls of this organization's headquarters. A recent effort to contain the A/C refrigerant abuse problem within our area was also a resounding success, as has been the ongoing campaign against underage drinking. All in all, SAFE is an incredible organization that has changed the lives of countless numbers of individuals throughout the Richmond Metro area. If our model were able to be replicated across the United States, there is no telling how many lives could be saved on a daily basis. I am truly proud to say that I am involved with such a wonderful group of individuals!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a local elected official, I have been impressed by the strong partnerships across all community sectors that have been established and sustained by SAFE. Through these efforts we have seen true community change, such as significant reductions in inhalant abuse among eighth-graders and reductions in sales of alcohol to underage buyers.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an elementary school counselor, I found the SAFE presentation to our group informative and enlightening. The information shared opened my eyes not only to the problem of huffing, but also to how easily children can obtain the tools needed to engage in this dangerous behavior. I am grateful that SAFE exists to educate not only the public but professional counselors about this danger to our young people.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of speaking in front of a senior class in 2009 about the dangers of beach week. It was because of SAFE that I had the opportunity to talk to the students about my experiences in hopes that the students would be able to relate and also take some helpful pointers along with them. SAFE is a great program and targets both students and parnets and helps educate both of them and the dangers of alcohol.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In March 2010, I was really trying to find an opportunity where I could give back to the community. I myself have a history with substance abuse, have recently turned my life around and knew from the begin ing that this is the area I was interested in. I attended a meeting at John Tyler Community College for the organization called "Red Watch Band". It was there that I met two women whose mission was to bring awareness to college students about the dangers of binge drinking. Sitting in that meeting I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to introduce myself to these women, tell them my story, and ask how I could get involved. So that's exactly what I did, and was first introduced to the organization called SAFE. I started going to meetings and met all those involved with the organization. I must say, that I absolutely believe 100% in their mission and their ability to accomplish it. You couldn't ask for a more passionate group of employees and volunteers. Every single person involved with SAFE is a complete asset. I love volunteering and being a part of SAFE.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SAFE is an extremely commuted member in the community. They strive to educate youth on the dangers of substance abuse. While educating the volunteers, they really focused on quality information and communication to enforce their goals. During the entire year,
I felt like an important piece of the community and felt that I had a valid impact.

Jody E.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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)

Jessi K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I personally was not able to fully experience what this program does because of schedually conflicts, but from when i was there is was an increadibly fun and educational program. Even fror me as a person who was supposed to teach the lesson I learned so much. Getting to know some of the people at my school I would normally not hang out with was fun as well. This experience, though not fully experience, helped me to stregthen my dislike of drugs and the like in underage children and heightened my want to do more to stop children before they start.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I became familiar with SAFE in the 2010-2011 school year as representatives from SAFE presented various programs at Ettrick Elementary School, where I served as principal. During the first program on inhalant abuse prevention, one of our patrons asked how to get involved in SAFE’s work. From that contact, two Ettrick volunteers were trained in conducting Parent Pods – small group meetings designed to engage, educate, and empower parents and grandparents in simple strategies to use that increase the likelihood that their children will remain drug and alcohol free.

The Parent Pod was underway and our Communities in Schools coordinator wanted to offer additional resources to parents and fifth grade students transitioning to middle school. Ettrick and CIS partnered with SAFE to bring Café Conversations to the school in the spring. This event provides a structure through which parents and their children share a meal together, engage in interactive fun together, and have facilitated conversations about the danger of drinking alcohol for underage youths.

I am impressed with the work of SAFE since its initiatives are created in response to community data regarding substance use and our young people. Data drives most of my decision making as an administrator and I see great value in this coalition since it plans community interventions very strategically. SAFE staff and volunteers clearly share a passion for working toward greater health and wellness in our comunity’s future leaders – the school children of today. SAFE is a wonderful non-profit organization!

Michael Courtney
Principal
Chesterfield County Public Schools

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.