Program type and history of how it formed:
About three years ago, efforts to reform a local substance misuse coalition began in two ways. Clay County Health Deprt Director Janice Patterson and assistant director Tanya Long approached Turner Guidry and Lorrie Ross about reforming, Both Guuidry and Ross were involved in both the county and regional coalition formed in the mid 2000's- Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Clay County. Around the same time, a Quality of Life Study commissioned by a grant received by Hinton Center showed substance use and one of the primary concerns for Clay, Cherokee and Towns County. A task force was formed for that issue with some of the same people as the health department group.
Leadership of the task force changed a few times, but Lorrie Ross and Hinton Center's Outreach Coordinator Ricky Hill took the task of developing a coalition. A community meeting was held in late summer 2017, which brought together people from the community including faith leaders, people in recovery, educators, business owners, addictions counselors and more.
With the guidance of Patti Tiberi, a prevention and coalition expert from Mountain Projects, the group formed an executive board to build a coalition foundation. It had its first meeting April 3, 2019. The board includes:
- Hayesville Mayor Harry Baughn
- Clay Schools administrator Angel Owens
- Kathryn Jenkins, Tri County Community College
- Tanya Long, former Clay County health dept assistant director
Even before the focusses were written, the group obtained funding to do PRIDE surveys for students grades 7, 9 and 11, at Clay County Schools. Those were administered at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
As of early August 2019, a mission statement has been written, along with goals. They are shown here:
People of Clay C.A.R.E. Mission Statement: To advocate for a healthier, safer community and reduce substance use disorder by offering education to the schools and all citizens about prevention, resilience and responsible choices related to alcohol, tobacco, vaping, prescription drugs and other substances; and to be an ally for those in recovery, as well as those seeking recovery.
People of Clay C.A.R.E. Goal statements:
- The coalition will advocate by promoting and planning extensive education efforts for the schools and citizens of all ages, about prevention, resilience and responsible choices related to alcohol, tobacco, vaping, prescription drugs and other substances. It will also address barriers to the implementation.
- The coalition will be an ally to everyone in recovery or seeking recovery, to family members of those in recovery, and it will be a source of information about intervention, treatment and transitional programs to help enable recovery.
- The coalition will work collaboratively to assist schools, public health, law enforcement, local government, businesses, churches, civic groups, non-profits and other agencies, to establish their own programs for prevention, education, resilience and recovery allies; and to gather information which may be beneficial to building a healthier, safer community and reducing substance use disorder.
- The coalition will grow partnerships and support the community wide effort through alliances with faith-based organizations, recovery groups, civic groups, media, the schools, the business community and local government agencies, including those outside of Clay County, encouraging all to support each other.
The priority population/customers for this coalition are Clay County Schools students, as well as citizens of all ages, and the coalition aims to make a difference at the prevention, education and resilience level. Implementation will take place starting in fall 2019 with a Town Hall, which will educate the community, local government and the schools about the need for prevention by sharing the PRIDE survey statistics. The current average age of onset for substances including tobacco, alcohol, and other substances is about 11 and a half years old. Prevention measures will educate students and families so the age of onset will gradually rise, ultimately impacting less use of all substances. Less use results in better health outcomes.
Prevention and awareness literature will be distributed during the town hall, as well at other community and school events. This effort began in the Spring and has already occurred 4 times at various community events. All recovery groups in the community have copies of prevention literature, as well.
In addition to the prevention programming, Ricky Hill is working on bringing drug/recovery court to the area. He has met with state government representation, along with several judges and other legal entities. He and others are visiting drug courts in Cherokee, NC; Buncombe County, NC and Union County, GA. If drug courts are brought to the area, it is anticipated the rate of recidivism will decrease for those incarcerated in Clay County. It will also afford them the opportunity to seek treatment and longterm recovery. There is not a planned date to implement this because sources of funding must be sought. Hill and others on his task force are exploring what is needed to finance such a venture. Having people return to jail less and stay in the general population increases their odds of sustaining a job, a home and overall healthier lifestyle.