CADCA Éditeur mai 22, 2024

Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria’s New Home: A Hub for Community Collaboration

The Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria (SAPCA) recently moved into a new shared building with the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services and the Virginia Department of Health. The move underscores the deep community roots that the organization has, utilizing a variety of angles to engage better, and advise the community that it serves. Frequent community presence and engagement has earned the coalition a respected voice with city lawmakers, as well as school and enforcement officials.

Allen Lomax, the chair of the coalition’s board, spoke about how the move has helped department coordination and improved community outcomes: “The entire Department of Community and Human Services and the Alexandria Health Department moved into that building, along with a federally qualified clinic to help create better relationships and results with those we serve. Our team is able to work with staff and coordinators within the two    departments and participate in other department projects. We have groups outside of the building that we heavily interact with still, like the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, but this provides great collaboration opportunities for us.”

Since day one, the coalition has emphasized the importance of community engagement, visibility and feedback in its yearly plan and projects. This openness to community feedback pays dividends for the perception and participation in the coalition. “We do have a lot of people involved. More people know about us and more people trust us because they see us around town at events and participating in the community.”

Lomax is particularly proud of the youth involvement with the coalition: “We go out and ask them what their perceptions are about youth data, projects or designs going on. Historically we’ve had at least one, sometimes three, youth members serving on our Board of Directors. They come on because they are just as concerned about their colleagues using substances and are dedicated to doing some good. They have provided us incredible advice as far as the planning process and what we should be saying to engage that youth group.”

As SAPCA gears up for what will be another impactful year, what advice does Lomax give to other coalition leaders with big goals in 2024? “The one thing that we found is that we don’t always have to go out to major corporations or outside groups to get things done. There’s a TV and media program in our public high school, we contracted with them to do a series of videos for us. We saved money, worked with our local community, gave the students experience (and paid them for the work), and got some valuable guidance and feedback from them on the videos we wanted to create.”

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