Massapequa Takes Action Coalition (MTAC), a local community coalition created to prevent and reduce risky behaviors among youth, has been recognized as one of our nation’s leaders in mobilizing communities to prevent youth substance misuse. MTAC was awarded the prestigious Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program Grant by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in the Executive Office of the President of the United States. The DFC Grant provides funding to community coalitions to strengthen infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in youth substance use.
A press conference was held today at YES Community Counseling Center (75 Grand Avenue, Massapequa, NY) to announce the grant award and what this means for the community. MTAC’s Steering Committee and Coalition members were joined by U.S. Congressman Pete King; NYS Senator John E. Brooks; NYS Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino; Nassau County Police First Deputy Commissioner Kevin Smith; Massapequa Public Schools Superintendent Lucille Iconis; representatives from the County Department of Health and Human Services; as well as local religious and business leaders and civic associations.
A total of 307 coalitions from across the United States vied for the new DFC grant funding. ONDCP awarded only 156 grants to local community coalitions with MTAC being the only coalition from Nassau County to receive funding. The grant provides up to $125,000 per year in funding, totaling $625,000 for five years. Coalitions can apply for an additional five years of funding, totaling ten years of grant support.
The new DFC Grant Funding will target past 30-day use of alcohol and marijuana for Massapequa’s youth (grades 7-12) as some rates (grades 10-12) are above state and national norms*. In addition, the average age of first alcohol and marijuana use in the Massapequa area is below the age of 15. Research indicates that teens who start drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are seven times more likely to have an alcohol abuse or dependence issue later in life than someone who waits until age 21 to drink alcohol**.
“This is not a short term fix and we’re meeting this challenge head on,” stated Jamie Bogenshutz, Executive Director, YES Community Counseling Center – Fiscal Agent for the MTAC DFC Grant. “Building off our New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (NYS OASAS) Partnership For Success! (PFS) collaboration, MTAC has fostered a solid foundation with its community partners to implement evidence-based strategies to reduce underage drinking and substance misuse. This funding acknowledges our efforts in response to this crisis.”
“There is an opioid epidemic on Long Island. In just one recent 10 month span there were 11 non-heroin opiate deaths in Massapequa alone. Thankfully, Massapequa Takes Action Coalition (MTAC) is at the forefront of addressing this drug crisis,” U.S. Congressman Pete King said. “The Drug-Free Community Grant will go a long way towards aiding MTAC’s mission of preventing and reducing youth substance misuse. I look forward to continuing to work alongside MTAC in the fight against opioids. This is a struggle we can’t afford to lose.”
“The foundation of substance misuse often begins with high rates of underage drinking and marijuana use. For the federal government to award us this grant, it validates our role as a leading authority on prevention, education and providing service support to reduce underage drinking and drug misuse,” commented Cathy Samuels, MTAC Coalition Coordinator. “MTAC’s DFC environmental strategies will help improve the lives of young people throughout the Massapequas.”
MTAC conducts ongoing community assessments to prioritize efforts to prevent and reduce youth substance misuse. These assessments are used to plan and implement data-driven, community-wide strategies that address these complex social issues. MTAC employs prevention strategies and works closely with the local community through the adaptation of policies and practices to prevent youth substance misuse.
“Research shows that prevention is the most effective tool we have to reduce the consequences associated with substance misuse among our youth. The DFC funding will allow MTAC to provide solutions for our youth to live healthier and safer lives,” added Mark Wenzel, Assistant Director YES Community Counseling Center and Co-Chair MTAC.
“Since 1997, Massapequa Public Schools have supported MTAC and its mission to prevent substance misuse and promote healthy families. This is a serious problem in our community and we are working together with MTAC to reduce this crisis among our youth and support the goals of its Drug-Free Communities Grant,” said Lucille Iconis, Superintendent, Massapequa Public Schools. “When school, home and community partner together to provide a strong foundation, our children are better positioned to make positive life choices.”
“Substance misuse by young people in the community has reached a level that cannot be tolerated. The Massapequa Chamber supports the efforts of MTAC, its mission, and its tireless dedication to the community as we work together to reduce the number of young people affected by underage drinking and substance misuse,” said Susan Martin, CPA, PC, Past President, Massapequa Chamber of Commerce.
Since 1997, MTAC has existed to prevent substance misuse and promote healthy families in the Massapequas. Under its NYS OASAS PFS Grant, MTAC collaborates with Massapequa Public Schools, parents, residents, law enforcement, clergy, private and non-profit agencies, businesses, and federal, state and local governments and officials, to prevent opioid misuse among 12 – 25-year- olds in the Massapequas.
For more information visit: www.mtacoalition.com, or call: (516) 799-3203, Ext. 131.
About Drug-Free Communities Support Program
The Drug-Free Communities Support Program, created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the Nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use. Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the DFC Program provides grants to community coalitions to employ environmental prevention strategies, which are broad initiatives aimed at addressing the entire community through the adaptation of policies and practices related to the prevention of underage drinking and marijuana use.
*2015 PFS Survey
**New York State Office on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services