Coalition’s Population and Unique Features
Gloucester County is located south of Philadelphia and northwest of Atlantic City. Gloucester’s population is a little under 300,000 residents, making it the state’s 14th most populous county. The county has 24 municipalities; the largest has a population of 48,600 residents and the smallest has a population of 1,553 residents. Some areas of Gloucester would be considered rural, while others are more city-like. Each town and municipality in many ways acts as their own county, creating a culture within their community unique to the members who reside there. Gloucester county is comprised of low, middle, and high-income base that’s spread throughout the county in accordance to the municipality where one resides. The coalition, therefore, must create prevention initiatives and strategies that are specific to the needs of the overall county, but also must be adaptable to address the concerns and issues of the individual town or municipality.
Gloucester Regional Addictive Substance Prevention (GRASP) has been working with local police departments to install permanent medicine drop boxes. GRASP coalition coordinator Candice Carter says, “we discovered that there are quite a few departments who still did not have permanent boxes due to lack of funding or not being familiar with the process.” As a result, GRASP purchased the medicine drop boxes and worked closely with local police departments to get them installed.
What advice would you give to other coalitions that may be addressing some of the same issues?
Carter says, “Investing in building strong relationships with your community partners is key to understanding what needs the coalition should be addressing, as well as the best strategies to do so. These conversations don’t always happen at a conference table. Most times it is as simple as having a casual conversation with someone you meet at an event, coffee shop, grocery store, or sporting event that can provide so much insight into what’s happening in your county.”