Advocates — bringing people together for positive change

LOCK HAVEN –The Advocates for a Drug Free Tomorrow, established in April 2003 in response to some of the earlier signs of heroin in Clinton County, is a community coalition whose mission is to promote community education, prevention, and recovery options. The group has the distinction of including membership from public officials, substance use disorder service providers, business owners, the healthcare industry, criminal justice representatives and other service agencies alongside individuals with experience in long-term recovery as well as family members.

Jennifer Reeder, secretary for the coalition and Assistant Director for the West Branch Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission, said of the group “It’s a beautiful thing to watch the mutual respect and ease of conversation between people who have been taught to judge and fear one another. There is none of that here, just people learning from and helping one another toward a common goal.”

Besides the Rally for Recovery, now in its 5th year, the coalition has sponsored a number of presentations and town hall meetings for the community at large as well as for target audiences such as the medical community and student populations. It has coordinated with the District Attorney’s office in promotion of standing medication return units and National Prescription Drug Take Back Days. It also recognized that, as people, we often don’t notice what resources are available until we need them. Consequently, simple business-sized cards were developed and placed in various places throughout the community with a centralized toll-free number for that first phone call when seeking help regarding substance use disorders.

“Coalitions notoriously rise and fall all the time, and we have certainly had an ebb and flow over the years, but we are still here and stronger than ever. The support received from the current board of commissioners and judges has been monumental in bringing people together toward positive change,” Reeder said.