The Pulaski Community Partners Coalition (PCPC) is dedicated to reducing alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse among our youth and adults by promoting healthy, thriving families and a safe community. We will work to accomplish our mission by connecting people, resources and ideas.
In May of 2002, at the annual Pulaski Community-Based Prevention Planning Meeting sponsored by New River Valley Community Services, representatives from community human services agencies, the school system, the court system, law enforcement agencies, the faith community, as well as youth and members from the community at large identified substance abuse among youth and the related issues of family conflict and violence, as primary areas of concern and need in Pulaski County. Perhaps the most significant outcome of that meeting was the identification of the need for these same groups and individuals to establish an organizational forum in order to work collaboratively to address the growing needs of the community in a time of economic cutbacks.
In June 2002, a meeting of interested parties met to formally discuss the possibility of forming a community coalition as a means of combating substance abuse by youth and their families by increasing community awareness, involvement, and cooperation. Since that initial meeting, members and supporters of the Pulaski Community Partners Coalition (PCPC) have met regularly, working hard to organize, build, and expand the coalition; as well as working towards fulfilling its mission of reducing substance abuse among youth by promoting healthy, thriving families and a safe community by connecting people, resources, and ideas.
PCPC members have devoted much time to the coalition building process, recognizing that while forming a community coalition is hard work, sustaining one is even harder. PCPC has committed itself to seeking high quality training and technical assistance for it members to ensure the coalition’s long term success. Towards that end, in the spring of 2003, PCPC applied for assistance from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). Through a nation-wide competitive application process, PCPC was one of 18 community coalitions from across the country selected for the “America’s Heartland Program,” a program to assist new and developing coalitions. Through this program, three PCPC members were able to attend CADCA’s Mid-Year Institute in San Francisco, CA. in July 2003. Jennifer Price from the Court Services Unit, school board member Jeff Bain and Julie Williams from New River Valley Community Services, were able to participate in valuable training in grant writing, community advocacy, and strategic planning. In recognition of PCPC’s commitment to building a solid foundation for its work, Pulaski County Schools and New River Community Services provided funding to send three PCPC coalition members to CADCA’s National Leadership Forum in January, 2004. Again, participating members received valuable training and networking opportunities in community coalition building.
Through its continued membership in CADCA, PCPC will have the opportunity to access the invaluable resources of that nationally recognized organization. One of PCPC ‘s early accomplishments was a successful community forum held on November 6, 2003. The forum, facilitated by two local, trained facilitators, was held at Pulaski County High School (PCHS) and attended by fifty community members, including school and county government officials, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge, the police chief, leaders of the faith community, the media and other interested citizens. The forum was very successful in accomplishing dual goals of collecting community input regarding the public’s understanding of local drug problems and making the community aware of the coalition’s presence and mission. At the suggestion of those in attendance at the forum, PCPC plans to use the community meeting format at least twice a year as a means of communicating with the community the ongoing work of the coalition.
In 2004, PCPC was successful in advocating for increased resources for the county. PCPC actively supported New River Valley Community Services and Pulaski County Schools, in the successful application of two grants providing substance abuse prevention programs in the Pulaski County Schools. A $100,000 grant was received from the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation and a $50,000 grant was awarded from the Virginia Governor’s Office on Substance Abuse Prevention. Both of these grants significantly increased the availability of substance abuse prevention programming in the public schools, especially at the middle and high school levels.
PCPC is proud of its accomplishments and excited about the steps it has made over the past several years. All members agree, however, that the most significant outcome to date is that, for the first time in a long while, the community is working together, trying to solve problems that no one agency, school system, or individual can solve alone. A renewed sense of energy, enthusiasm and optimism for the future is shared by coalition members and they will readily admit that is what brings them back to the next meeting.