ROCKPORT, Maine — The Five Town Communities That Care Coalition will receive $125,000 in federal grant funding this year for the group’s substance abuse prevention programs.
The coalition’s program co-ordinator, Dalene Dutton, said she estimated the total grant amount over five years would be $1.3 million with half coming in cash from the federal government and half coming from local matching money and services.
Dutton was notified of the award on Aug. 22 by the Office of National Drug Control Policy Drug-Free Communities Support Program, the U.S. government’s principal agency to foster community anti-drug coalitions.
The Five Town coalition is a nonprofit organization involved in substance abuse and suicide prevention for youths in Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport, the communities that make up the Five Town Community School District and SAD 28.
Patricia Hopkins, superintendent of schools for Five Town CSD and SAD 28, said she was “thrilled” that the coalition received the grant. She praised the coalition’s efforts to promote healthful youth development and to reduce risk for substance abuse.
“We are fortunate to have a nonprofit organization, such as this one, that is embraced by the members of the community who are so dedicated,” Hopkins said.
Dutton said the grant was the only one given by the federal government in 2008 to a substance abuse prevention program in Maine.
The coalition’s grant has a noncompetitive renewal clause for the first five years and requires a 100 percent match in local funds or services.
“We’re able to come up with the match because we can take in donations in volunteer hours and use of facilities, for which we would have to pay rent,” Dutton said. For example, “a school donates a classroom for our mentoring program, and I can use the value of that room toward the match.”
“I don’t want to give people the impression we don’t have to raise any money, however,” she added, “for we do.”
The money is used to promote healthy use behavior through education, Dutton explained.
“That may not seem to give a direct benefit to the kids, but it does, because the coalition is stronger with better programming, and it has more opportunities for the young people,” she said.
The grant money may be used only for substance abuse prevention among students and not for the coalition’s otter programs, she said. A portion of it can be used for administrative salaries, such as hers.
Now in its sixth year, the coalition has worked on reducing youth behavioral problems.
“The coalition has made a significant impact on public health issues in our community,” said J. Luke Engereiser, psychiatrist at Pen Bay Medical Center. “This grant will help them continue their important work.”
The Rev. Adam Kohlstrom, pastor of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Camden, said he knows first-hand “just how important the work of the coalition is to our students.”
“News of this grant leaves me elated for I know the good that will be accomplished as a result of it,” he said.
A veteran science teacher at Camden Hills Regional High School, Dutton left her teaching job in 2003 to become the first administrator of the coalition.
“I could no longer sit in a classroom when so many kids were in trouble with substance abuse and behavioral problems, and I thought I could help with this program,” she said.