Located on the “Treasure Coast” on the east coast of Florida, the Drug Free St. Lucie coalition is a year one DFC grantee off to an impressive start.
“As year one grantee, we are incredibly proud of the relationships we have built with our community leaders and grass root advocates. We have collaborations with our local law enforcement agencies at the county and city level, Children’s Services Council, Health Department, regional mental health provider, schools, the United Way Lincoln Park Advocacy Advisory Committee (LPAC), and a grassroots advocacy group in the northern part of the county,” said Kristy Conway, Coordinator. “We have also been fortunate enough to meet one-on-one and create relationships with members of Port St. Lucie City Council and the St. Lucie County Commission, city managers and the Office of the Mayor of both cities, just to name a few.”
St. Lucie County has two major cities, Fort Pierce and Port Saint Lucie, with a total county population of 300,000 people. The coalition has established diversified data/assessment workgroups and is in the process of updating their community assessment with current data. Additionally, the coalition has grassroots members of the community involved with environmental scans of local stores in the Fort Pierce area and is in the planning stages for conducting community focus groups and community-focused dialogue events throughout the county.
“Recently, we formed the Drug Free St. Lucie Ft. Pierce Advisory Committee to address substance abuse issues specific to the city,” said Conway. “Our fiscal agent, the Roundtable of St. Lucie County, is a collaborative of over 30 CEOs representing a wide range of stakeholders who serve the community with a primary focus on children and youth.”
The organization supports Drug Free St. Lucie and directs key staff of the respective agencies to volunteer their time and assist with recruitment of other community stakeholders to support the efforts of the coalition. This has enabled Drug Free St. Lucie to develop its data workgroup to begin gathering information and data in order to assess and impact substance misuse in the area.
“In addition, we have a strong youth leadership team involving 30 youth contributing environmental data through a PhotoVoice Project,” added Conway. “These collaborations will provide us with the information needed to identify the local conditions that will benefit from our coalition’s work.”
When asked what advice she would share with fellow coalitions, Conway said: “Drug Free St. Lucie recommends that every coalition make connections and build relationships with stakeholders representing grassroots throughout the target area to identify existing resources and strategies currently addressing substance use and other community issues. This will provide valuable insight that will assist coalitions with effectively organizing the coalition for community change. Using the core elements of the Strategic Prevention Framework model has been one of the most beneficial tools leading to building capacity to address substance misuse in our area.”