The Greenlee County Substance Abuse Coalition is back on its feet with the hire of a new director, Hannah Landers.
Six years ago a lack of funding forced the coalition to disband, but thanks to new funding it’s back in action. Landers, a 31-year-old Clifton resident and former Morenci English high school teacher was hired in May to manage and move the coalition forward.
She’s found the job to be rewarding and she enjoys making a difference and meeting people, she said. Landers first became involved in the coalition when she volunteered as a coalition representative of the Morenci school.
“Being a part of the coalition is an opportunity for me to get out and get involved,” she said. “It’s just getting to be around more people.”
A Washington State native, Lander said she’s found Greenlee County residents to be welcoming and supportive. They seem relieved the coalition is back up and running, she said.
She’ll soon be forming sub-committees for youth, law enforcement, and education.
“We need participation,” she said. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’re going to start attending schools.”
Drug prevention presentations in the schools will hopefully be the pound of prevention, she said.
She’d like to encourage kids to join the youth sub-committees, Landers said. Not only will they find it rewarding, but their volunteerism will stand out on college applications, she said.
The coalition is taking a hard look at the results of the 2018 Arizona Youth Survey and will be getting input from Greenlee County law enforcement to help educate the community, Landers said.
According to the survey, a lot of kids are drinking and vaping, she said.
Before school starts, Landers said the coalition will have a back-to-school night so parents can learn more about drugs in the area, and how to talk to their kids about them. Also, the coalition intends to teach parents how to use Naloxone, a drug used to treat overdose patients, during the upcoming months.
Kathy Grimes, director of the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition, is pleased at the direction Lander’s coalition has taken.
The Greenlee County Substance Abuse Coalition was revived with a grant in September for $40,000 from Arizona Complete Health. This grant is designed to get coalitions back on their feet, Grimes said.
In January, the coalition received another grant called the Desert Grant from Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System for $100,0000. The Desert Grant is for adult and childhood anti-drug education. On July 1, the coalition received another $125,000 grant from AHCCCS to fund programming in schools and educational classes for the community.
“They’re doing great,” she said. “They’re moving forward, they just recently were awarded a three-year grant so they’ll be going for at least three more years.”
The Greenlee coalition is working toward becoming a nonprofit, Grimes said. Once registered as such, the coalition will apply for a Drug-Free Communities Grant through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that could fund the coalition for another decade.
“They’re going to be pretty busy,” she said.