Coalition is working together to improve Washougal

Connecting community

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Margaret McCarthy and Rich Blum are members of the Washougal Community Coalition. The organization is hoping to build a stronger community.

A coalition comprised of people from all walks of life will work to curb underage drinking and offer healthy alternatives.

The Washougal Community Coalition’s goal is to “build a community that is connected and involved, empowered by healthy choices and strong family units.”

The coalition, formed last May, is a part of the state division of Behavioral Health and recovery’s Prevention Redesign Initiative.

It uses state funding to better target and leverage prevention resources by implementing active partnerships with counties, Educational Service Districts, local school districts and the state superintendent. The focus is mainly to reduce underage drinking and drug use. Washougal was chosen for a two-year grant due to its level of community awareness, according to Margaret McCarthy, coalition coordinator.

“Not everybody is given this funding,” she said. “We have a great sense of community in Washougal and want to empower our citizens to make positive choices.”

McCarthy, a Washougal resident, accepted the part-time coordinator’s job in January.

“I think we’re here to make our talents available,” she said. “It was the perfect fit for me because I want to help people.”

The coalition is distributing a confidential survey to gain a better understanding of attitudes surrounding underage drinking. It will be available through March 29, both online and at various locations in the city. All areas with the paper copy version will have a lock box to place the completed survey for confidentiality purposes.

“We want to see how we can work together, and take our strengths to grow this community into an even more positive place,” McCarthy said.

She has three children, two away at college and a seventh-grader at Canyon Creek Middle School.

“They have benefitted a lot growing up in this community and I want to help others meet their full potential,” she said.

Rich Blum, a local pastor and member of the coalition, wants individuals to make good, healthy choices and have strong families.

“The information we gather from the survey will help us achieve that goal,” he said. “We need input and it will have a direct ramification. We want people to understand that they are a part of this.”

The coalition meets every Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the East County Family Resource Center, 1702 “C” St. All are welcome.