Rise UP Reno, a prevention network located in Reno County, Kansas, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. 20 years of dedicated work in their community; 20 years of specializing in substance misuse prevention, suicide prevention, school-based mentoring, strengthening families and empowering youth leaders to Rise UP and be the change. Currently in Year 10 of their DFC grant, Rise UP plans to take the lessons-learned within these past two decades and apply them towards the next twenty years of transforming their community to the safest and healthiest version it can become.
“I think we have built ourselves a reputation within our community of being prevention professionals – if you need to know about prevention, any substance-related issues, community data or resources that are available, people know that they can call us,” shared Carla Smith, Executive Director at Rise UP. “While it took some time, I think we have really established ourselves not only as a partner that is looking to collaborate with others, but also as one that people now seek out to collaborate with. Now, people are bringing us to their table, which is a testament to what we’ve been able to build in the past twenty years.”
Over the years, Rise UP has strengthened their prevention skills by participating in the National Coalition Academy (NCA) and regularly attending CADCA’s National Leadership Forum each February. “CADCA’s Forum has been very beneficial to us. We always send at least one person every year – and our favorite part by far is participating in Capitol Hill Day. Whether we have a lot to share or we just show up to listen, the opportunity to be in the room, the building or even the neighborhood where decisions that affect us across the country are made, is such an impactful experience.”
“Once we brought along youth to our Capitol Hill meetings, we decided we would never go again without them – they just get so much out of it. When they attend, they are able to see that someday they could become the person that makes these decisions and can make an impact – and more importantly, that they don’t have to wait. They can start making a difference now.”
“I always ask the youth to get dressed up, practice what they will say beforehand and really put in time and effort about what they will say and why it matters. It’s a huge opportunity for them that we would otherwise have likely never organized or thought to do on our own, so we’re really grateful to participate in Capitol Hill Day.”
By meeting with their representatives each year, Rise UP has developed relationships with staffers and established themselves as a knowledgeable source for information on substance-related issues. “Just the idea of our staff, and board and coalition members showing up together and being able to say that we have answers, and we can help, to people that are that powerful – it’s just a really big thing for our morale and self-esteem to affirm that we know what we’re doing and we’re doing it for a reason.”
Rise UP also acknowledge to being CADCA members and participating in the CADCA Community. “It’s a great resource to go to because there’s such a wealth of information on there and a network of people you can bounce questions and ideas off of. It helps you feel like you’re doing what you need to do, you’re on the right track and that it’s okay to ask for help and seek guidance from people that have done what you’re trying to do before you.”
“Between the toolkits, newsletters and infographics that CADCA shares, there’s always something that rings true to what you’re working on and can help you get to where you want to go. Even if you don’t need those resources the day that they come out, you’ll eventually come back to them later and save yourself the time of trying to recreate them on your own.”
Since 2003, Rise UP has grown to a staff of four and developed strong relationships with each sector in their community. CADCA congratulates its member’s for reaching this significant milestone, and looks forward to seeing what transformative impact they will have in the next twenty.