As media attention for the opioid crisis grows, local communities have responded. Grassroots coalition groups have sprung up across the United States, and right here in Lancaster. Just within Lancaster County, the number of known grassroots organizations and coalitions has has doubled in the past year. Through funding from the Lancaster Drug and Alcohol Commission, Compass Mark operates a program that provides resources and technical assistance to 17 of these groups. The goal is to help grow prevention initiatives at a local community level.

Christine Glover, Compass Mark’s Community Prevention Mobilizer, directly impacts these coalitions in Lancaster County.

“I support them by connecting them to available resources including other coalitions, providing information about addiction and the science of prevention, and I encourage them to use evidence-based programs, policies and procedures,” she says.

She credits the increase of community groups to media attention, and says that the timing was right – the communities she works with are ready to get more active in fighting addiction.

“Some of the groups are United Way Collective Impact grantees. They’re not necessarily new within the last year, but through their efforts and ours, the timing is right for us to connect and collaborate,” Christine says.

Lancaster County has a diverse population, and the 17 groups with which Christine works reflect those differences.

“Each of the groups has a slightly different focus, and that definitely keeps me on my toes!” she says. “I listen and watch and ask questions. The members of these group are experts on their particular community, and they have an understanding about the people they’re serving that I do not. We work together; I rely on their geographic expertise and offer my experience and objective perspective to their process.”

“The goal is to provide these local leaders with knowledge and skills to enhance the work that they’re doing and to help them develop new leaders within their communities. It makes their work more sustainable.”

Sustainability is key when dealing with prevention. Prevention is both a long game and a science; some evidence-based programs work best when offered in a developmentally appropriate way in consecutive years. Participants in these programs learn new skills and can practice them in a safe, controlled environment. It is vital experience to prepare them for situations they encounter outside of the classroom. They learn decision-making, communication and self-regulation skills that filter through every aspect of their lives, making them overall healthier people.

On May 22, representatives from each of the seventeen coalitions will gather at Bright Side Opportunities Center in Lancaster. There, they will learn about the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets – 40 positive supports and strengths that young people need to succeed. Half of the assets focus on the relationships and opportunities they need in their families, schools and communities, and the other half focus on the internal strengths, values and commitments that need to be nurtured in young people.

Christine is looking forward to equipping the groups with these tools so they can impact their communities even more.

“Each community is filled with genuine folks who truly want to make a positive difference,” Christine adds.

“I really enjoy celebrating their successes. They don’t get recognition from the masses, and I enjoy being able to congratulate them for a job well done! It is quite possibly the most important part of my role.”

To learn more about coalitions in your area, or the services available through the Community Prevention Mobilizer, contact Christine Glover at 717-299-2831 or cglover@compassmark.org.

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