Pictured (from left) are Jessica Lemons, Piedmont Mediation; Shanika Turner, Aftershock Youth Empowerment; Ron Matthews, Statesville ABC Board member; Clarissa Young, Boys & Girls Club; Michele Knapp, Fifth Street Ministries; Tonya Fowler, Pharos Parenting; and Fred Morrison, Speak Life and Live.

Special to Iredell Free News

The Statesville ABC Board has awarded education grants to six area agencies to assist with the organizations’ substance abuse programs.

This year, the following agencies received a share of the $78,500 total contribution: Aftershock Youth Empowerment, Boys & Girls Club of the Piedmont, Fifth Street Shelter Ministries, Pharos Parenting, Piedmont Mediation Center and Speak Life and Live.

“We are committed to the funding of important programs that help with and prevent substance abuse issues,” said Michelle Rokes, Statesville ABC Board chair. “The board is diligent in running an efficient operation so that we can put money back into the community.”

Tonya Fowler, director of Pharos Parenting, explained that the education grant helps Pharos “provide safe and stable homes” for children.

“We offer classes and individual support for parents overcoming substance abuse,” Fowler said. “Our goal is to stabilize the family, teach positive parenting skills, and break the cycle of abuse and neglect.”

Speak Life and Live Director Leslie Morrison described the impact of the funding on the nonprofit’s programs as immediate.

“The grant helps us provide participants with opportunities to enhance their education and explore successful strategies to acquire leadership qualities. We provide socialization opportunities, health and wellness information, social services for the Statesville community.” Morrison said. “We believe that healthy choices are an option for children that have the education to make informed decisions.”

The ABC Educational funds are used to support the SMART Moves (Skills Mastery and Resilience Training) prevention and education program for elementary and middle school students who are involved with the Boys & Girls Club of the Piedmont.

“The program addresses alcohol and drug use…and engages youth by using educational and fun activities that illustrate the risks of using alcohol and/or drugs,” explained Clarissa Flowers Young, director of the agency. 

The many youth programs offered through the Piedmont Mediation Center give youth the “opportunity to grow and learn while also taking accountability” for their actions, according to Terri C. Masiello, center director.

PMC uses “restorative justice,” a process that seeks primarily to address or repair harm caused by an incident or offense to identify and address harms, needs and obligations.

“Very often, these incidents are substance abuse related,” Masiello stated.

According to Shanika Turner, executive director of Aftershock Youth Empowerment, the ABC grant helps fund the after-school program at Third Creek Middle School, where students receive tutoring, mentoring and empowerment coaching throughout the year.

The Statesville ABC Board distributes 7 percent of its remaining gross receipts annually for the treatment of alcoholism or substance abuse, or for research or education on alcohol or substance abuse, explained Tip Nicholson, general manager of the Statesville ABC Board. “The ABC Board is very appreciative of the work these organizations do to help with and prevent substance abuse issues.”