Grant would boost Unite’s impact

Members of the UNITE! Washougal Community Coalition are enthusiastically awaiting word on its application to receive a five-year $625,000 federal Drug-Free Communities grant. It’s money that has the potential to have a very significant impact on the incredible work already being done by this grass-roots, community-based and intensely-focused organization.

UNITE! Washougal Community Coalition was formed in May 2012, funded in part by a grant from the Community Wellness and Prevention Initiative from the Washington State Department of Behavioral Health. Adult coalition volunteers include city council members, teachers, school counselors, business leaders, law enforcement officials, members of faith based organizations and citizens.

Since its formation, UNITE! has been a very visible entity in the Washougal community. The coalition uses a holistic approach in its work to prevent underage alcohol, tobacco and drug use, and tackle the core issues that often cause kids to make unhealthy choices. Its outreach efforts have included free parenting classes and youth activities to reduce substance use, as well as community prevention wellness initiative surveys. The coalition’s mission, at its core, is to build a healthy community from the ground up.

This kind of work is clearly supported by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and in Unite’s case can only be enhanced with the availability of additional funding.

“We know that evidence-based prevention efforts are the most effective way to reduce youth substance use and to support the roughly 90 percent of American youth who do not use drugs,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

An answer as to whether the Unite! Community Coalition receives the federal grant may not come for several months. In the meantime, this group will no doubt continue to forge ahead making positive, life-changing impacts on the lives and futures of local youth.