BY DEBBIE PAGE
During its September meeting, the Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell reviewed the draft of its new three-year strategic plan, announced new work group configurations, and revealed new leadership under co-chairs Jerry Campbell and Sara Lewis.
Before beginning discussion of the strategic plan, DACI Director Jill McLelland reminded attendees of available coalition resources, including medication lock boxes, access to treatment/services rack cards, updated services resource guides, and Narcan.
She also asked for volunteers to help with the DACI table at several upcoming events, including the September 29 Overdose Awareness Day Candlelight Vigil at Liberty Park in Mooresville, the October 7 National Night Out in Statesville, and the October 17 Mooresville Afternoon Out.
DACI will also have a DEA National Take Back event during the third week of October.
McLelland said the board decided on a three-year plan because of the quickly changing nature of the drug and alcohol treatment, prevention, and education. She said the document was also meant to be a living document, with flexibility and adaptability to changing conditions.
To begin the construction of the plan, DACI sent out a survey assessment through social media pages and email lists to conduct a “temperature check on the work of DACI.” The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and Community Impact North Carolina also assisted in the survey development process.
The assessment sought the community’s perspectives on substance use issues, community concerns, and service needs. The largest group of respondents were parents, followed by mental and substance use professionals, healthcare, youth organizations, and state and local government representatives.
The most valued DACI programs were its educational and training events, the substance use resource guides, syringe take back events, outreach activities, and Overdose Awareness Day.
Respondents believed that methamphetamine, alcohol, opioids, heroin, tobacco and vaping, and marijuana are the most significant substance use problems in Iredell County
The results of the assessment helped to drive the areas addressed in the strategic plan draft. Through the survey, DACI identified its strengths, including community awareness of its mission and vision, its mission aligning with community needs, its organization, its participation in county wide events, and its collaboration with county-wide agencies.
Areas in need of improvement included focusing more attention on methamphetamine use, poly-substance abuse (using multiple drugs at once), alcohol use, and vaping.
Other focus areas noted were youth engagement, increasing community presence and visibility in the northern and southern parts of the county, and engaging more effectively with the recovery community.
STRATEGIC PLAN AND REORGANIZATION PROCESS
At its July board retreat, facilitated by Charles Page, members reviewed the coalition’s mission, vision, and values, discussed board roles, and reviewed the survey results and current initiatives.
After reviewing the assessment results, the board created an outline of the three-year strategic plan to present to the coalition for feedback before final revision in October.
The board also created a few short-term goals, including re-engaging the community by redefining and promoting coalition meetings and work groups. Instead of bi-monthly meetings, the board decided to change to monthly meetings on the third Monday of each month.
If in-person, the meetings would be from noon to 1 p.m. with lunch provided, with locations rotating six months in Statesville and six months in Mooresville.
During the meetings, work group and committee chairpersons would report on their teams’ work, followed by a mini training presentation on a substance use topic.
To avoid overlap, work groups were also combined to three rather than the previous five: (1) Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, (2) Legal and Law Enforcement, and (3) Youth.
The board also decided to establish a fourth financial committee of board and coalition members to address fundraising and ensure financial health of the coalition. The goals of this group are to increase unrestricted funding by 20 percent each year, explore appropriate grant opportunities, monetize the substance use resource guide, and create new marketing materials and rack cards.
This group will also work to increase the donor base by 10 people per year. The board is also working toward 100 percent of board members contributing personally to the coalition since some grants require information about that commitment.
STRATEGIC PLAN GOALS
Under the vision of “changing community, changing lives for future wellness,” the board created five goals with accompanying measures of success.
♦ Goal one was to continue to redefine and engage the community in education efforts and working to educate and remove stigma around substance use, substance use disorder and addiction within the community.
Measurable indicators of success include increased educational outreach efforts, increased available funding to support educational efforts, engaging at least 10 new active members each year, strategically educating and updating community leaders, reducing youth substance use initiation, and increasing opportunities for decreasing criminal charges and improving care for people involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Coalition members suggested adding the risk and need assessment results from the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and the data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from Iredell-Statesville Schools as additional indicators for goal one.
♦ Goal two is to continue building a safe “hub” of resources and information for the community, targeted solely towards substance use, related mental health topics, and addiction.
Indicators of success include gathering and sharing addiction and mental health resources, hosting informational sessions to engage the community, uniting the community to work together to achieve common goals, and supporting relevant, appropriate mental health initiatives.
The board is also discussing the possibility of adding an office/meeting space in the Mooresville area to further this goal.
♦ The third goal is to align priority education areas to the needs of the community.
Indicators of success include collecting, analyzing, and disseminating morbidity/mortality data to inform policies, programs, and practices in community, monitoring the community for gaps in substance use education, and responding to information gaps with problem-solving around educational and treatment-related needs.
DACI will also partner with federal, state, regional, county, and local partners on surveillance initiatives that improve the timeliness and specificity of opioid-related data.
Coalition member Pam Navey suggesting also using EMS data trends to help in achieving this goal.
♦ The fourth goal is to improve access, utilization of, and engagement and retention in prevention, treatment, and recovery support services in Iredell County.
To achieve this goal, DACI will work to increase treatment options within the community and to increase the number of engaged clinicians and community members to sway policy efforts.
DACI will also support substance misuse prevention efforts through training, technical assistance, and the adoption of evidence-based policies and programs.
Board members will incorporate this feedback to finalize the strategic plan in the coming months.