DeKALB – The Ben Gordon Center will have a new staff member to bolster its substance abuse programs, thanks to a $75,000 state grant.
Anna Stevens, prevention and education program manager for the center, said she is looking to fill the position as quickly as possible, and the new staffer will need to hit the ground running.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Stevens said of the grant. “We’re looking for candidates with a strong educational background that is connected to the community and will get the motivation going.”
The new staff member will help continue the reorganization and refocus of the DeKalb County Partnership for a Safe, Active and Family Environment coalition. The DCP/SAFE group divided into multiple coalitions, such as violence prevention and Latino action groups, which has taken some of the focus off drug and alcohol issues in recent years.
Stevens said the goal is to refocus on drug and alcohol prevention and engage more community volunteers for stability. The grant provides the center a paid staff member specifically designated to assist with that work, she said.
The grant comes on the heels of a $125,000 federal grant that kick-starts community coalitions focused on reducing drug and alcohol abuse. Because that federal grant was the ninth installment in a 10-year program, Stevens said she hopes the state’s assistance will continue in the future.
“There is $200,000 we’ve gotten now to put focus on this effort,” Stevens said. “I don’t think the community realizes how fortunate DeKalb County is to receive money for all these programs.”
Stevens pointed to health-related efforts such as community gardens and the comprehensive Pioneering Healthier Communities initiative from the Kishwaukee Community Hospital, Kishwaukee Family YMCA, school districts and park districts as grant-based projects that are changing the community.
“Now we need to get more people involved ... and generate momentum,” she said.