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Trimble CARES about drug and alcohol abuse

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By Lorrie Kinkade

Substance abuse is not only a problem for the man who smokes marijuana or the woman who sells cocaine. It also affects the children who go without necessities because of a parent’s addiction and those who miss hugs goodnight when a parent is jailed on charges related to their abuse of drugs or alcohol. It leaves a lasting impression as well on the teens that continue the abuse cycle begun by their parents or grandparents.

Thanks to a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Community Assessing Resources & Education on Substance Abuse, or CARES, team has been formed to combat repercussions such as these in Trimble County. The grant totals $150,000 over two years.

“Our vision is to provide a safe, healthy atmosphere for children,” coordinator Denise Hall said of Trimble CARES. “To see one child hurt, one family destroyed, is enough for us to know we need to come together to fight [drugs] in our community. With this grant, we can begin to do this.”

Hall said the new group’s mission is similar to that of the Trimble County Drug, Alcohol and Violence Task Force, which disbanded in 2006 after nearly a decade of successfully creating such events as Project Prom at Trimble County High School. Hoping to learn from the successes of that program, as well as to pattern itself after the successful CARE team in Henry County, Hall said the coalition’s membership will need to include police, parents, business owners and government leaders among others. Already showing interest in becoming part of the group, she said, are church leaders and members of school Parent Teacher Associations, along with grandparents and teenagers.

“We had 17 people attend our first meeting, which is tremendous. Because it’s going to take everyone,” she said.

Trimble County Sheriff Tim Coons said his department plans to work closely with the CARE program, as they regularly witness the devastating effects drugs and alcohol can have on a community.

“Programs like this absolutely help,” he said. “The bottom line on drugs and alcohol is the more people involved, working with kids with these kinds of problems in their homes, the better their chances of success in life.”

Trimble CARES volunteers will meet once monthly, first to evaluate the county’s needs when it comes to substance abuse education and then to come up with a strategic plan for promoting awareness to youth and adults. Hall estimates it may take up to a full year before the group begins implementing ideas, however said some of these may include parenting classes or seminars on the dangers of alcohol enhanced energy drinks or legal dangers such as the salvia herb.

“It took three years and a lot of support for us to get this grant. It will give us a place to get started so we can look to see what Trimble County needs and make a plan of action,” Hall said. “We are just so excited to have this and we need everyone’s help to be successful.”

Trimble CARES will meet the third Wednesday of each month at noon in the Family Resource & Youth Services Center at Trimble County High School. Anyone interested in attending a meeting is welcome and lunch is provided. To R.S.V.P. or for more information on the program, contact Hall or assistant program coordinator Marla Fetterhoff at (502) 255-5110.