Coalitions in Action— Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Elgin Rebuilds Completely to Become Stronger Than Before

Tell me about your community and the communities that your coalition serves – its population and unique features. When was the coalition formed?

The Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Elgin (CSHE) had its early beginnings in the mid-late 80’s.  In 1987 five individuals representing the sectors of the Elgin Police Department, School District U-46, Renz Center and Linden Oaks Hospital attended a Florida conference on community policing giving birth to the Elgin Gang/Drug Task Force. Founded in 1835, Elgin is home to 112,000 people made up of about 50% Latino, 24% White, 7% African-American and 9% Laotian (home to the largest population in the State of Illinois of those from the country of Laos). It is part of the second largest school district in the state (first being Chicago 40 miles southeast).

What unique issues is your coalition facing?

The most unique challenge is that CSHE is both very old and very new. The coalition lost nearly all active members in early 2017. By March 2018, CSHE had rebuilt to nearly two dozen members. With so many new members, the challenge of wrapping their heads around the who, what, when, why, where and how of the coalition is real and sometimes slow. The depth and breadth of knowledge, skills and experience is still in its infancy but growing exponentially.

What activity or program is your coalition most proud of and / or what activity would you like us to spotlight?

CSHE led a team of community partners in offering a two-part program for the general public, where we gave an introduction to opioids followed by Narcan training and corresponding kits. The room was filled and, in the end, we helped 32 people understand the opioid crisis a little better and equipped them with life-saving opioid overdose nasal spray.

What else do you think is important for other coalitions to know about your progress, journey etc.?

“At the last meeting of our fiscal year, we took in all we had accomplished in a such a short period of time (March-September), with so little experience,” said CSHE coordinator Gil Feliciano. “And we thought about the even greater impact we’ll have in FY18-19, given we now have some experience, a lot more knowledge and refined skills. Since rebuilding, we have created a new profound sense of hope and confidence which, unfortunately, is too often in short supply.”