Arlington, VA – The Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition received the 2012 DEA Community Drug Prevention Award at the DEA’s National Red Ribbon Rally on October 24th. This award is given annually to a community service group or organization that is working to address local drug and crime problems. The DEA sponsors this award to highlight the importance of grass-roots efforts in keeping our communities safe and drug free, and to recognize the volunteer activities of DEA employees, and to enhance future DEA prevention programs.
Receiving the award were Kathy Graham Sullivan, Director-Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition; Virginia Hardin, Director-Prevention, Training, and Response Services, Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare and Tim Carden, Resident Agent in Charge-Roanoke, who nominated RAYSAC.
RAYSAC was chosen for their collaborative efforts with the Western Virginia Water Authority, DEA, U. S. Attorney’s Office, all area sheriff and police departments, and the Prevention Council of Roanoke County. RAYSAC and the WVWA established the Roanoke Valley Prescription Drug Task Force to provide the leadership to develop a community-wide strategic plan to address the environmental and health issues surrounding prescription disposal and misuse. To develop the strategic plan, RAYSAC brought together representatives from youth serving agencies, environmental agencies, health care, law enforcement and concerned community members. RAYSAC and the Rx Drug Task Force joined the DEA in all National DEA Take Back events, expanded its involvement and established seven collection site locations in the Roanoke area. Working with the DEA and local law enforcement agencies, the Rx Drug Task Force has helped collect and safely dispose of in excess of 5,000 pounds of unwanted and unused medications.
RAYSAC was also acknowledged for recognizing the importance of youth involvement in supporting the mission. The RAYSAC Empowered Activist Leaders (R.E.A.L. Team) was developed for young people to have a leadership role within the coalition. Through the R.E.A.L. Team, high school students throughout the Roanoke Valley work together to increase youth participation in promoting a safe and drug-free community.
Submitted by Kathy Graham Sullivan