This year, two of our long-time CADCA member coalitions celebrated membership milestones. The H.E.A.R.T Coalition from Atlanta, Georgia celebrated 10 years of membership, while the Galveston County Community Coalition from Galveston, Texas celebrated 20 years of membership. We asked these coalitions to reflect on how their years as CADCA members have impacted the work of their coalition, and what advice they have for other coalitions hoping to achieve the kind of sustainability they have experienced.
Over the last ten years, H.E.A.R.T. Coalition Chairman Vincent Vandiegriff says the prevention landscape has changed significantly, due in part to the influence of social media. “Our young people are more in tune to it today,” said Vandiegriff, “kids get most of their information and daily news from the internet and social media. 10 years ago, it was just evolving, but now it’s out there. Since we know that social media is where kids get their information, one of our strategies is to put a lot of our messages on social because we know we’ll be able to reach young people that way.”
Galveston County Community Coalition Coordinator Mary Beth Trevino said that her community has also experienced significant events which have impacted their prevention efforts. “My agency has been a CADCA member for 20 years,” said Trevino. “During that time, our community has gone through two major hurricanes and a mass school shooting, but we continue to rise up in the face of adversity. Knowing I had the support of CADCA’s numerous resources always gave me the courage to stay focused and strong for my community.”
Vandiegriff also believes that CADCA’s resources have had a significant impact on the success of the H.E.A.R.T Coalition. “CADCA gives you a formula to express what problems are occurring in the community and helps us to develop solutions,” said Vandiegriff. “The trainings and knowledge provided at the national level, through the National Leadership Forum and Mid-Year Training Institute, can help us with the problems we’re working on locally.”
Both coalitions have had success in achieving sustainability over the years. Trevino credits this success to “leveraging resources and nurturing key partnerships,” while Vandiegriff believes that “a great working relationship with all sectors of the community,” as well as a focus on youth-led, youth-driven prevention efforts, has allowed his coalition to maintain relevancy and become a primary source for prevention information within the community. “If you don’t have youth involved, then you aren’t going to make it,” said Vandiegriff. “They are the core of this coalition and should be the ones doing the work and gathering the data.”
As the coalitions reflected on what they have learned over the years, they gave advice for other coalitions. “You have to stay consistent,” said Vandiegriff, “know your community, be a champion and advocate and have great communication outlets. Never be afraid to make new partnerships and know that no one organization can do it alone. Don’t be driven by grants alone. Sometimes you have to do things because it’s just the right thing to do. You are responsible for your community.” Trevino echoed this sentiment, saying “utilize all the available resources and learn to recognize unused resources. There is so much available online now in the way of toolkits. Use these and adapt them to your own situations and circumstances.”
Thank you to the H.E.A.R.T. Coalition and the Galveston County Community Coalition for your years of membership and partnership with CADCA. If you are interested in becoming a CADCA member or renewing your membership, please reach out to CADCA Membership Sales Associate Adonna Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are already a CADCA member, be sure to pick up your 5, 10, 15 and 20-year lapel pins at this year’s National Leadership Forum and Mid-Year Training Institute.