Being Grateful

Last month, I had the honor to be able to recognize five community members who believe that supporting youth helps our community thrive. Most successful individuals can name a few key adults who supported and inspired them as they navigated the difficult process of growing up. One of the cornerstones of a healthy community is youth who have a supportive network of adults they can rely on to provide positive role modeling and lend an ear to listen to concerns. I am grateful that San Clemente is a community that has many adults who take interest in our youth and work or volunteer to help our youth grow into healthy adults.

The Wellness & Prevention Coalition is in the process of applying for a Drug-Free Communities grant. The goal of this grant is to reduce substance use in the community through prevention. Current research shows that an asset-based approach is one of the best uses of prevention funding. Asset-based approachesĀ are an integral part of community development in the sense that they are concerned with facilitating people and communities to come together to achieve positive change using their own knowledge, skills and life experience regarding issues they have encountered. The Coalition has a multigenerational, multicultural committee developing strategies that strengthen assets within our community. The plan requires support and contribution by all sectors in the community and works under the assumption that our coalition can motivate the community to work in the best effort of our youth.

I have no doubt that we have a community that can band together to solve the debilitating emotional, social and monetary costs of substance use, particularly among our youth. But, this will require the residents of San Clemente to participate in the discussion and to commit to supporting the positive changes this coalition strives to make. On the most basic level, we need to shift from recognizing the negative events in the community to noticing and celebrating the successes of our elected officials, public safety officials, teachers, coaches, religious leaders and others who support a healthy community.

Having resided in San Clemente for more than 14 years, I am aware of and thankful for the many developmental relationships I observe in all sectors. Some examples include the local business owners who hire our teens and provide them with meaningful work experience, organizations like Family Assistance Ministries, Boys & Girls Club and Community Outreach Alliance, which recruit youth volunteers and provide them with a place to contribute to the wellbeing of others and our local public and private schools that employ some of the best educators in the country to guide our students in and out of the classroom.

The Drug-Free Communities Grant is funded by the federal government, through the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and will allow us to work both from the bottom up and the top down to reinforce these positive developmental relationships and to develop more strategies to strengthen the health and wellbeing of our community. I am grateful that we have enough dedicated individuals and organizations in San Clemente to assist us in developing and implementing a prevention plan that qualifies out community for this grant. And finally, to all of you out there with strong relationships with our youth, please keep it up, research and experience has certainly proven that this is how communities stay healthy.

Thank you to the individuals and businesses who supported our fundraising drive in November. These funds allow the Wellness & Prevention Center help youth and families in San Clemente.