Last Thursday, Cassville Community 2000 voted to move forward with a process that could provide the organization with a $125,000-per-year grant over the next five years. Approval of a federal Drug-Free Community (DFC) grant would allow Community 2000 to continue to work to reduce risky drinking among 12- to 25-year-old individuals in our local community.
In order to apply for the DFC grant, the organization must receive support from individuals in the 12 sectors of our community, which include: youth; parents; businesses; media; schools; organizations serving youth; law enforcement; religious organizations; civic and volunteer groups; healthcare; local government; and other organizations.
Several local community members and businesses, including the Cassville Democrat, have already stepped forward in support of pursuing the DFC grant. Receiving support from other local businesses and organizations could improve Cassville Community 2000's chances of receiving the grant award and valuable funding for our community.
Over the last four years, Community 2000 has worked to reduce risky drinking in the local community by implementing a community-wide media campaign, hosting alternative activities for students, collecting annual data and establishing alcohol awareness and resistance programs in the fourth, eighth and ninth grades in the Cassville and Shell Knob school districts.
Through these programs, Cassville Community 2000 has helped reduce the number of local youth who admit to consuming alcohol over the last 30 days from 29.7 percent in 2008 to 25.8 percent in 2009. The organization has also reduced instances of binge drinking from 14.4 percent in 2008 to 12 percent in 2009. Community 2000's biggest accomplishment is that the organization has helped increase the age of first use of alcohol to between 10 and 12 years. In 2007, the age of first use in our community was between 8 and 10 years.
If Cassville Community 2000 receives approval for a DFC grant, the organization will broaden its focus to reduce drug use among local youth. This could be accomplished through media campaigns, education of youth and parents and additional training for law enforcement and juvenile officers. The organization could also consider responsible beverage server training, fake identification enforcement and compliance checks.
As Cassville Community 2000 moves forward in its quest for more funding and establishes new goals to reduce drug use and continue to reduce alcohol use among local youth, we hope more community members, businesses and organizations come forward to support the organization. More funding can only go so far. Community 2000 will need community support and open-minded citizens to implement these ideas and programs.