By Ryan Cooper, VCC Project Director
What do you get when you cross politicians, three local mothers, several Helping Services staff, Washington D.C., and 2,700 other people from around the country (and world)? No, not a cheesy joke!
You get Involvement! Cyndy Ward, Melody Gilson, and Teri Wagner from the Valley Community Coalition (VCC) decided to become more involved in the community. So, they jumped on the opportunity to take an exciting trip to Washington D.C., participate in a national conference, and learn how to help their community fight against drug problems. During their visit, they spent time at the Capitol and met with our state’s representative staff. They discovered the way vital pieces of our nation, states, and communities operate and their own role in that structure.
Getting involved in the community is not difficult to do. For these three moms, all it took was a little willingness to learn. Here are a few reasons why they are involved:
Melody: “I want our kids to grow up in a safe place while helping other parents become aware of the issues surrounding drugs and alcohol.”
Cyndy: “It is up to us as parents to educate our children and communities on the issues facing us every day. My kids are at an age where drugs, tobacco, and alcohol typically begin to be on their radar, so I want to make darn sure that I know what is going on in their lives!”
Teri: “Just because we live in a small, rural community doesn’t mean we are safe or immune to drug and alcohol problems. They are everywhere!”
You get Awareness! At the conference, their eyes were opened to new things they hadn’t thought about or realized were a problem. Now they want to share these insights with others back home.
Melody learned prescription drugs are the second-most abused substance after marijuana. In fact, 15,000 people die every year from overdoses of prescription drugs. That’s nearly the population of her home county!
Cyndy didn’t realize so many “safe” substances were being abused (prescription medication, synthetic cannabinoids, inhalants, etc.). Most of these substances are readily available in the home and not necessarily illegal, so they are often not considered to be dangerous.
Teri was surprised at how easily accessible substances are to kids. Technology adds a whole new type of opportunity for use and abuse and responsibility for education.
You get Fun! Being a part of community groups has its perks. The conference activities ended at 5 p.m., leaving time to check out local shops, eat delicious food at incredible restaurants, and tour the National Mall. In addition, simply staying at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center was a treat in and of itself. The group certainly had no shortage of laughs and things to do throughout the week.
So, what are you waiting for? All it took for these ladies was a simple desire to be involved. Someone asked them and they said “YES!” What about you? What roles or skills do you have to use and make a real difference in the lives of your community? With so much to do, you can be a part of it.
What do you get when you cross all of these ingredients: You get Change!
Interested in being part of this movement toward community health and safety? We are eager to help you find a role that fits your schedule and interest. You can check out our vague list of volunteer opportunities or contact Helping Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 563-387-1720 to brainstorm roles you’re excited about.