Carol Chamberlain and Heidi Kahme, the coordinators of the Lawrence Alcohol and Drug Alliance and the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, respectively, as well as Lawrence High School Student Assistance Counselor Ann DeGennaro, were honored by the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County at its annual Prevention Awards breakfast June 12.
The Mercer County Police Chiefs Association also was honored at the awards breakfast for its work with the Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, Recovery Advocates of America, City of Angels and Oaks Integrated Care – all of which are dedicated to helping victims of opioid addiction and substance abuse.
The Prevention Coalition of Mercer County and the Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction share offices on Brunswick Pike in Lawrence Township. They work hand in hand to reduce under-age drinking and the use of marijuana, and the misuse of prescription drugs.
“Prevention is what we do, but it is not just going into the schools to prevent a student from becoming hooked,” said Jocelyn Cooper, executive director of the Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, which co-sponsored the awards breakfast with the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County.
Prevention is also about reducing the barriers to treatment, providing recovery support and reducing the stigma of addiction for victims of opioid addiction and substance abuse, Cooper said.
Chamberlain, who is the Lawrence Township Health Officer, is a strong advocate for prevention and public health, said Barbara Sprechman, assistant executive director of the Mercer Council on on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction and the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County coordinator.
As the coordinator for the Lawrence Alcohol and Drug Alliance, Chamberlain has incorporated many of the Coalition’s prevention activities, such as “Parents Who Host Lose the Most” and “Project Sticker Shock,” into the Alliance’s strategies, Sprechman said.
“Carol promotes the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County throughout her networks and associations, and we are fortunate to have involved in the Coalition. Thank you for being our partner in prevention,” Sprechman said.
Kahme has been the coordinator of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance for 13 years, Sprechman reported. Kahme is “a visionary, a hard worker and greatly appreciated in her community,” she said.
One of Kahme’s key accomplishments has been to establish a community partnership called “Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth,” Sprechman said.
Kahme also organized a youth summit for students in grades 7-12 to address issues facing Hopewell Valley’s young people. She also helped to develop the Hopewell Valley Parenting Conference, which brings parents together for a half-day of education.
“I work with a most progressive school district. Face it, school is where the children are,” Kahme explained of the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, as she accepted the award.
DeGennaro, who is the Lawrence High School student assistance counselor, has taken part in an effort in which Lawrence High School students helped to form a Mercer County-wide youth coalition. It provides young people with skill sets and helps them to make good choices for their future goals, Sprechman said.
At Lawrence High School, DeGennaro provides short-term counseling to students and their families who are having emotional, personal or inter-personal difficulties or who are struggling with substance abuse.
Accepting the award, DeGennaro praised the Lawrence High School administration and said she is “part of a family that rolls up its sleeves and makes it happen. The administrators are truly troupers. They absolutely make a difference.”
The Mercer County Police Chiefs Association, which includes the chiefs of police in Mercer County towns, as well as the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, has been involved in several prevention initiatives, Sprechman said.
These include Project Medicine Drop, which allows residents to drop off unwanted drugs in a special locked box at the police departments’ lobbies around the clock, as well as the CARE initiative.
The CARE initiative – Community Action Recovery Effort – is a program adopted by many Mercer County police departments. When a police officer comes into contact with a substance abuser, the officer can refer that person to an agency that will help him or her to kick the habit.
Hopewell Township Police Chief Lance Maloney, speaking on behalf of the Mercer County Police Chiefs Association, thanked the Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction for the award.
Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri added that it is a pleasure to work with the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County. He also praised the CARE initiative and the referral agencies that include City of Angels and Recovery Advocates of America.