RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- Congresswoman Nita Lowey and community coalition leaders from all around Westchester gathered in Rye Brook Thursday to celebrate federal grants being used to fund drug and alcohol prevention programs for young people across the county.
This year Lowey announced that $1.3 million in Drug Free Community grants would be distributed among ten organizations in Westchester and Rockland Counties, each one receiving $125,000. Directors of several of the recipient organizations spoke about how the money has allowed them to conduct assemblies and activities in their schools on alcohol and drug abuse, post advertisements about the dangers of alcohol, and collect unwanted prescription drugs.
"We all share an obligation to help young people make smart choices, and I know that it's a challenge," Lowey said. "Every generation has its challenge, and it's why these programs are so very important, because too often with our young people they think they're wise, they think they're smart and what we know are reckless actions, they think are just fun and being part of the gang."
The Blind Brook Community Coalition was receiving a grant for the first time this year. William Stark, the superintendent of Blind Brook schools, said that programs like the community coalition help accomplish the district's goal of helping children grow academically, emotionally and socially.
"As the representative of the Blind Brook school district, I'm very proud of our academic prowess and achievement," Stark said. "But I think we sometimes lose track of the fact that social and emotional development is the key to our success, not only individually but as a community and a nation."
Bhavana Pahwa of the White Plains Cares Coalition was one of the many community coalition members who stood up and talked about how the grants have allowed them to conduct programming. One of the activites provided in White Plains was a Wellness Week, featuring 47 community organizations and a week of activities to promote healthy living. She said that one of the most important things the grant allows for is a coalition coordinator.
"All of this programming doesn't just come together all by itself, you need somebody to coordinate this program, you need somebody to do all the legwork and administrative work that's required, and the DFC grant has really provided us with that funding," she said. "It's also allowed us to provide programming not just in the schools, but out in the community."
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