During my time in Springfield, the Washington County Heartland Youth Coalition has stuck out to me as one of the most impactful organizations in the area.
It’s been a way for adults to reach teenagers about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, while also allowing the teens to lead the charge themselves.
Plenty of other counties have programs such as D.A.R.E. and other anti-drug campaigns, but the hands-on approach that the youth coalition has taken with students is what sets it apart from other organizations.
The coalition has had such great success thanks in large part to the over-$100,000 grant that the organization received several years ago. The grant enabled the group to hire two staff members, Wilma Sorrell and Issac Frye, who have left no stone unturned in trying to reach Washington County youth about the importance of good decision-making.
Sorrell has been a direct link to getting countless students involved over the last decade, while Frye has been the voice that has helped the community realize the significance of what they’re trying to do.
As of five months ago, that grant has run its course and the coalition has been left searching for answers to how it can continue forward. Friday’s public meeting didn’t turn up any definitive solutions, but it was the beginning of what could be a long process to do just that.
It was the start of a reaching out by the organization to the community, because that’s where the real help needs to come from.
Getting another grant isn’t totally out of the question. As was noted in today’s front-page story, Frye also serves as the organization’s treasurer and is constantly on the prowl for other financial opportunities. There’s no guarantee of additional money coming in, however, and even if it does, it too will fade away in time.
The true source of support for the youth coalition needs to be the people right here in Washington County. Now, it’s no secret that Washington Countians are involved in their community and already give back a great deal, but no expense should be cut when it comes to the safety of the local youth.
While many members of the community give their time and resources to the numerous beneficial organizations in Washington County, they would be hard-pressed to point to one that is providing a more important service than the youth coalition.
Not everyone has the time, the ability or the drive to contribute significantly to the group, but in all likelihood, you know someone who does.
Even if you don’t think you have a dog in this fight, you do. Not everyone in Washington County is a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, but everyone has a stake in the future of the county and that’s about as good of an investment as you can make.
To find out more or to offer assistance, call (859) 336-0140 or email WCHYCprevention@gmail.com.